Never Off Duty
After 5,000 miles of driving in seven weeks, I was looking forward to sitting still in one place for seven days. I had been on an extended evangelistic tour and was preparing to take a vacation with some friends from seminary. What I didn’t know was that God was preparing me to learn a very important spiritual lesson before my vacation even began.
I had repacked my bags and loaded them in the back of my car. I headed in the direction of the nearest bagel shop so that I might purchase some bagels for my friends. The car, which had run just fine for my entire tour, suddenly began giving me signs that something was quickly deteriorating under the hood. I headed out for the Interstate Highway , but as I did so, the car refused to go any further and just stopped running.
" Why NOW ?" I asked myself. " Why, after so many miles of faithful service does the car have to konk out NOW, on the first hour of my vacation?"
I stuck my head under the hood, and got my hands greasy. However, the mechanical know-how I had was not enough to fix whatever was wrong with my car. I knew that I had to get it to a gas station, and fortunately I was able to drive it to a nearby shopping center. It gasped its last breath and made its final stop by the automotive department.
My vacation was delayed, and that was a disappointment of life I just had to accept.
I went to find a bite to eat in order to console myself. Now, I’m not one to blame misfortunes on God, but I do believe that He allows "bad events" to enable us to appreciate His power. I just had to trust Him to bring good out of this situation. As I entered the snack shop, I was pleasantly surprised to see a friend of mine from seminary. Together we ate a quick meal, had some prayer, and spent a while sharing about the activities of the last few weeks. He offered to drive me to my home after he got off from work, so I transferred my bags into his car. I put on my Jews for Jesus jacket and decided to wait for him in the snack shop until he was through with work.
I hadn’t been back inside the restaurant for more than three minutes when a young man asked if I had a moment to speak with him. Garig was from Highland Park , Illinois . He was a Jew who was looking for "spiritual truth." He had read the New Testament, but admitted that he had gone into it with a certain amount of bias, thereby gaining confirmation for his own view of theology. He said he believed in Buddha, Jesus and a pantheistic type of God.
We spoke for awhile, then I decided it was time to give Garig a chance to think over what had been said. It didn’t seem as if he wanted to allow the conversation to take his thinking any further. So I told him that I was going to wait for my friend outside at his car. A few minutes passed, and Garig came by the car to find me. Almost urgently, he said, "1 don’t know what I should be looking for. How do I find God?" I urged Garig to ask God to make Himself known. I told him my story, and explained that God is a personal God who loves us and desires a relationship with us. What he was hearing seemed to delight and excite him. He left that night with the challenge to pursue God in a serious and purposeful way, and somehow I believe he will. As my friend drove me home later on that evening, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy for this experience and time to be used by God. What a wonderful way to begin my vacation! Having the car break down and seeing my friend because I was delayed turned out to be a beautiful blessing. God had certainly brought good out of a "bad" situation.
I realized that Christians can never retire from service, go off duty, take a vacation from their story, or take a lunch break from the work of serving God . We might take time to temporarily step away from regular duties and functions, but in God’s heart we’re always on duty. We should always be ready to share the story of His grace in Christ, and to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that ,you have." (I Peter 3:15 )
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.