In a world of instant gratification and speedy technology, it’s easy to grow impatient when we don’t see what we want, when we want it. Yet God is never rushed, and His timing is perfect. We hope the following stories by some of our missionaries will help you will pray for us, for patience and perseverance as we wait and see what God will do.
Slowly Starting to See
by Stephen Pacht, London
Someone once said that it takes an average of 4 + years from the time someone first hears the gospel until he or she receives Christ. It’s now three years since I first met Stuart, an accountant, who last year announced that he finally believed Jesus to be the Messiah—but he is not yet born again. He is one of a small group of men who have just started attending a fortnightly Bible discussion group in our home.
Another participant, Robert, is a teacher who has been interested in Jesus for some years but does not believe He gave His life for us. At our last study we read Jesus’ words, the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many” Robert replied that giving one’s life didn’t necessarily mean dying. We then read Jesus’ declaration: “I am the Good shepherd … the reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again.” At that point Robert paused, and in a sincere tone declared that he’d now need to rethink his earlier assumptions.
Matthew, who is in the film business, recognizes that he is a sinner and has experienced answers to prayer. He speaks of the peace he now feels when he visits our Jews for Jesus center and has expressed a determination to read the Bible—but still he believes in reincarnation.
These men remind me of the blind man at Bethsaida. After Jesus’ initial ministry the man began to see but people still appeared only as trees (Mark 8:22 ff). When Jesus touched him again and made him look up, his sight was completely restored.
As yet the sight of these Jewish friends has only been partially restored. The blind man was then healed completely. We pray and continue in the hope that one day our Jewish friends will, like that blind man, look up and see everything clearly.
Ministry Across the Miles
by Rob Wertheim, San Francisco
During our Jews for Jesus “Behold Your God” Las Vegas Campaign in late 2005, one of our volunteers, Brooke, met a middle aged Jewish man named Harvey (not his real name) while distributing broadsides (our gospel tracts) at McCarran Airport. Harvey was headed home to Los Angeles a after business trip. He was quite friendly and had several good questions about our beliefs. He was willing to receive our publication for Jewish seekers called ISSUES, but he didn’t seem open to further personal contact.
Shortly after this, a new Christian film was released and there was a special showing at our church. To my surprise, the man who had come to promote the film, Steve (not his real name) was Jewish, and not a believer in Jesus. I tried to engage him in a spiritual conversation, but while he was polite toward me, he didn’t show much interest in the gospel. But I was very interested to find that Steve had the same last name as Harvey.
This gave me a reason to call Harvey. When I mentioned to him that someone with the same last name as he had come to our church showing a film about missionaries in South America, Harvey confirmed that Steve was his son! From that point on, Harvey and I began to meet for coffee every couple of weeks at 7:30 a.m. before he headed off to work. Our conversations were very lively and I felt that Harvey would soon open his heart to Jesus. Unfortunately, even though he recognized the real possibility that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, he couldn’t take the next step of entrusting his life to the Lord.
When I was appointed the San Francisco branch director, I introduced Harvey to one of my co-workers in Los Angeles, hoping that the two of them could continue where we left off. Unfortunately, Harvey was not open to the idea. I knew that he occasionally traveled to the Bay Area on business, and we left the door open to meet sometime when he was in the area.
My family and I moved to San Francisco and Harvey and I exchanged a few emails over the next year and a half. Recently, Harvey let me know he was coming up to San Francisco and he hoped that we could meet. Since he works for an airline, we met at the airport for coffee. It was like old times. Harvey still seemed open and had many good questions but had roadblocks as well.
Harvey and I exchanged emails after he left and I suggested that perhaps we could meet regularly as we used to when I lived in L.A., but using Skype (an internet-based way to make calls from computer to computer for free). Harvey said he wasn’t interested; nevertheless he sent me another question to which I responded. He then wrote back to me and said that maybe we were “meeting regularly” as I had suggested, only using email instead of Skype.
Missionary work can take place in person, by phone or via computer—but in any case, it requires patience. I really believe that Harvey is open to personally knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Please pray for a continuing ministry to Harvey and for his salvation.
Only God Knows
by Tuvya Zaretsky, Los Angeles
Only God knows the value of some opportunities. Only He can bring meaning out of events that are beyond our control.
In August of 2008, I received a call from a missions representative at a church in the northwestern San Fernando Valley. Her suspicions were raised by an inquiry from a woman named Maya who cliamed to be a Jewish seeker. Maya wanted to attend one of the church Bible studies because she hoped to meet “other Jews who believe in Jesus.” I immediately recognized her name; she is not a Jewish Christian or, as yet, a seeker. She is an Orthodox Jew who volunteers with a local anti-missionary group.
Maya sees it as her calling to discourage new Jewish believers in Jesus and turn them back to Orthodox Judaism. In our encounters with her, we’ve found her motives to be anything but transparent, and she is extremely determined.
In response to this unusual phone call, I offered to attend the mid-week Bible study and possibly surprise our anti-missionary, Maya. I had other things to do that night, but felt this took precedence.
I attended the Bible study, sitting quietly off to the side. None of the new Jewish believers in the church attended that night. Neither did Maya. Speaking with the Bible study leader, Phil, afterwards, I commented, “I will have to trust the Lord for His use of my time.” I could only wait to see how my change of plans and time invested at the Bible study would prove worthwhile.
In subsequent months, I had some wonderful and mutually beneficial email exchanges with Phil. He shared Bible insights and asked for my opinion on sections of Bible that he was teaching. He also was an encouragement to me as I sought his advice for a subsequent witnessing opportunity.
Then, this spring, I received a telephone call from Janice (not her real name). Janice is a Jewish believer in Jesus who attends one of Phil’s Bible studies. Though she came to faith twenty years ago, her walk in the Messiah has been inconsistent. She has had very little contact with other Jewish believers and has had a rough time talking to her family about the Lord. In her professional life, she works with many high-powered Jewish professionals here in southern California.
Janice called my office on Phil’s recommendation. She was delighted to discover all the resources that are available through Jews for Jesus. She welcomed anything further that I could send to her. She had specific questions about answering Jewish objections to the Messiahship of Jesus that were raised by her professional contacts. She wanted information to assist her in ministry to Jewish-Gentile couples in her sphere of influence. I also have no doubt that Janice will open the door for future ministry to some of the people with whom she works. I would not have met her if I had not attended Phil’s Bible study that night; God had used the time to lay groundwork for future ministry.
Over the years, I have learned from experience that the Lord always rewards our availability. A very dear pastor friend of mine named Ron Ritchie taught that we need to be available to the Lord to let Him work through us however He chooses. As Ron used to put it, “Just show up!” Originally, it was my privilege to just show up to support a Bible study in the San Fernando Valley. Only God knows what He can do through our availability. I’m enjoying participating in the discovery.