Two Bits from Two Branches
Garrett Smith reports, “When a young man left a threatening message on our office answering machine, we reported it to the police. Before long, the officer traced the call to a cell phone registered to a man in upstate New York. It was pretty obvious that the call came from his 16-year-old son. My position was that if he would come clean regarding what he did and apologize, we would not prosecute. After months of dealing with the police and lawyers, the father and son agreed to our terms.
“They drove seven hours from Syracuse to our office. Our administrative worker Michelle and I sat down at a table with the two of them, as well as their lawyer and the police officer. The father was visibly tense. The son very humbly described what he had done and apologized. He seemed like a nice kid who was ‘egged on’ to do something stupid by some friends.
“I had silently prayed for the father and son to experience grace through the situation. I asked the son why he was so angry with Jews for Jesus and he was able to express his objections in an acceptable manner. I then had the opportunity to answer, and to share some of my story. Best of all was the opportunity to express how we were glad to forgive him when he confessed to us, in the same way that God had forgiven us, through Jesus. I tried to encourage him that while he’d gone about expressing it the wrong way, I appreciated that he cares about our people. The father seemed moved by this and all traces of anger and uneasiness left the room.
“The lawyer said that he wished all his cases could work out like this, and that forgiveness is all too rare in the situations he’s seen. Please pray that God will use the situation, which began as something ugly, to work out something wonderful for all concerned.”
Shlomy Abramov reports, “His name is Shimson and he had come to the annual Shantipi festival with his wife to enjoy the loud music and bright colors on the beautiful beach called Achziv. Yet God had a bigger plan for this man, for he was going to meet his King.
“We were sharing Jesus from our rented booth space when Shimson came along and I had the opportunity to tell him about Y’shua’s love and forgiveness. The next evening Shimson came back to our booth and wanted to hear more. A pastor happened to be helping us at the moment, and he was able to continue the witness to Shimson. In the meantime I was busy working the booth with many Israelis coming to hear the gospel. I finished sharing my story with them and then noticed Shimson was alone. I began to share my story with him as well. After he heard it, he seemed greatly moved and I asked him if he wanted to have righteousness through Y’shua. He responded, ‘I don’t know how.’ I turned to Romans 3:23 which says ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. . . .’ Then I turned to the sinner’s prayer, Romans 10:9 and following.
I invited Shimson to receive what Christ was offering him. He very much wanted to pray and have Messiah come into his heart. We went to the makeshift kitchen on the sand, behind our gospel tent on the beach. Shimson prayed right there under the stars. I found myself imagining it was probably like that in Y’shua’s day when others prayed for their salvation here in the Land of Israel. Please pray for Shimson’s growth as I meet with him and that he will thrive in a local congregation as we point him to one in his area.”