I first met Sarah at a presentation of Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles” that my husband Steve and I gave at Sunrise Community Church in Vacaville, California last October. We knew that there were Jewish believers in Jesus in the congregation, and that some were hoping to bring family members who didn’t yet know the Lord—so we were especially looking forward to the opportunity.
After the service, an older woman made a beeline for me at the book table. A friend was following close behind her. “My name is Sarah, and I’m 87 years old and I’m afraid to die!” she announced to me, adding, “I have never told anyone outside of my family this before and I don’t know why I’m telling you except that I really like you, and I feel like I can trust you.”
I felt honored that she would trust me with something so personal. I said, “Sarah, God doesn’t want you to be scared about dying—He wants you to be prepared so that when it happens, you will be in His presence forever.” Sarah was willing to meet with me to discuss this further, but her friend Rhea started trying to interfere with our conversation. My daughter Bekah came over and engaged Rhea in conversation so that Sarah and I could continue our talk.
After the service I tried to call Sarah several times, but was never able to connect with her. I finally reached her daughter-in-law, Tracy (Sarah was living with her believing son, Michael, and his wife, Tracy), who said that Sarah was visiting one of her sons in Florida and wouldn’t be back for a few months.
Fast forward to April of 2004. This time I was scheduled to present “Christ in the Passover” at Sunrise. When I confirmed the meeting, I got to speak to Tracy who said that Sarah was excited to see me again. After the service I went to lunch with Sarah and Bekah. Sarah had lots of questions, and Bekah (who is college-aged and has already had lots of training and experience with evangelism) and I took turns responding to her. It felt as if we were playing ping-pong and not missing any balls.
Sarah and I continued to meet regularly. We were growing closer as friends while she grappled with spiritual truths. She struggled with the problem of personal sin because she was a “good person.” Slowly she began to understand God’s holiness and perfection. When measured against most people Sarah looked pretty good, but when measured against God’s standards, she had to admit that she had fallen short.
Some weeks later, circumstances were abruptly changing. For my part, a foot injury flared up, keeping me from my usual duties at summer camp. I was disappointed and upset at the timing, which was interfering with my plans. But then I found out that Sarah’s circumstances were changing, too. Her son and daughter-in-law were going off to Bible school. They wanted Sarah to come with them, but she could not stand the idea of a Missouri winter. She decided to live in Las Vegas with her daughter. Our visits took on a new urgency because I knew I’d only have a few more times to meet with her before she moved. I asked a lot of people to pray for Sarah.
When I met with Sarah on Wednesday, July 21, God opened her heart and her understanding and she prayed to receive the Lord! As we went through John 3, she had a lot of questions. It was great to see God work in her heart, helping her see the answers for her sin problem in His Word. Right after she prayed to let Yeshua (Jesus) take charge of her life, we talked about confessing Him before people. I asked her if she had someone she wanted to tell, and she said, “I’m calling Michael!” Michael’s voicemail came up and she left the sweetest message for him, saying that she had asked Jesus to be her Messiah! Just a few minutes later Michael called back, overjoyed at God’s answer to so many prayers. This dear lady has a lot of believing family who have prayed for her for years and friends from Michael and Tracy’s church who have loved and cared for her.
Next, she called her son Alan who said, “Mom, you are 88 years old, and people your age don’t do this kind of thing!” Sarah said, “Well, I guess you underestimated me!”
The next day I went out to do a new believer’s Bible study with Sarah to help affirm her faith and deal with any questions. It was a sweet time for us and a little bit sad because she was going to be moving that weekend to Las Vegas. In the meantime, she had called all of her family to tell them that she had “become a Jew for Jesus!” Sarah told me that she had the best night’s sleep ever the night that she prayed to receive Jesus.
Sarah is now in Las Vegas with her daughter and son-in-law who are not believers in Messiah yet. Our former staff member Shari Greenfield will be contacting Sarah to follow up with her, and will hopefully have a chance to share the gospel with Sarah’s family. Please pray for continued spiritual growth and protection for Sarah, and that she’d find a loving fellowship to make her spiritual home as she learns to walk with her Messiah.
Also, I’d request prayer for Sarah’s friend Rhea, who is Jewish and not a believer. She was the one who tried to interfere with our conversation that first day at church. Now that Sarah has come to Yeshua, Rhea is showing some curiosity. Please pray that she would seek the truth and be willing to meet with me to look into God’s Word.
PS: Now I know why God didn’t heal my foot in time for camp. If I had gone as planned, I never would have been able to meet with Sarah the way I did. God’s timing is perfect!