Simon Lissak and Kata Tar have just begun their second full month of missionary training at our center in New York City. They are learning the missionary craft, as well as learning the ropes of life in Manhattan. Your prayers during this exciting and challenging time would mean so much—and what better way to ask you to pray than to introduce them to you!
My father and his family escaped from Poland during World War II and on reaching the UK he and the remaining family intentionally assimilated. He would not even complete the religious section of the UK census for fear of persecution. Being the son of a Polish Jew was very important to me but I was not brought up in a religious household.
Up until 2005, God had no place in my life. Christianity made no sense to me. I did not own and had never read the Bible. I thought of myself as a good person and lived a normal happy life. I had gotten married, purchased a new home, had my own business, and young son, Felix. I felt no need for God.
My wife and I often talked about how lucky we were while at the same time acknowledging that despite all we had we were not even a fraction as joyful as Felix was about life—and we began to wonder why! There was a gap—something missing—and we began to wonder what it could be.
I never expected to find the answer in Jesus. I hadn’t read the Bible since a couple of rather dull Religious Education lessons at secondary school; I did not own a Bible and I did not pray. Yet through several coincidences,” including a loaned book, a “chance” meeting on a train, an “unplanned” lunchtime trip to a West End church and pressure to get my son into a local church school, I was drawn to Jesus. I believed the gospel yet I wrestled with the challenge of giving up control of my life and trusting that God had a plan for it. It seemed impossible; nevertheless I prayed for God to help me do just that.
The following day, a family emergency occurred and my 22 month old son had to be rushed to the hospital. I prayed everything I could think to pray for the situation and then an extreme calm came over me. I realized that regardless of the outcome, my faith in God was real and His love would help me no matter what happened in my life. Even before that crisis passed, I saw that God had given me the trust I could not muster on my own. The huge “gap” in my life was gone.
Looking back I see how my salvation was God’s work of grace. He was not put off by my numerous objections … rejections and rebellions … He just kept on until there was no escape!
What amazed me was that almost immediately after coming to faith I started to “feel more Jewish.” I told my pastor about that but it didn’t seem to make much sense to him. I don’t think I really fully knew who I was in Christ until I came to my first Jews for Jesus meeting and met other Jews who believed in Jesus. Then a lot fell into place for me.
Jews for Jesus has an “Existential Crisis” broadside tract that could have been my conversion story! I am pleased that I am now handing out those tracts, and hoping that another “me” might take one and meet Jesus!
My Jewish grandmother actually became a Christian and raised my mom as a Protestant. But after the war my mother got a Marxist education—and so did I. I was therefore raised as an atheist, which was quite normal in my home country, Hungary. I was convinced that these ideologies were true and right.
However, in my university years, I was faced with the harsh realities of Socialism. I was disappointed, disillusioned, and lost my “faith” in Communism. Still, I remained a materialist (one who does not believe in things that cannot be apprehended through the five senses.)
My disappointment caused me to begin searching. I took part in a seance and [though I now know this is a dangerous practice that is strictly forbidden in the Bible] it convinced me beyond a doubt that a spiritual dimension exists. So I thought I would do some exploring and choose whatever “god” suited me. Jesus was not among the candidates. It did not bother Him; He knew what would be.
When I graduated I could not seem to settle down and had three jobs within my first year and a half out of school. During the time of this “Great Depression” I wanted another taste of something spiritual, and I decided to visit an old friend in the country. By then she and her fiance had gotten saved. They shared their story with me and though I envied the radical change in them, I thought I was too rational for such thing as Christianity.
Then a thought occurred to me which I now recognize was from the Holy Spirit: “You are looking for the same thing they have. Why do you try to understand with your mind that which you can only know with your heart? Just listen!” So I did. That night as my friends prayed for me, I experienced God’s presence, and I spoke to him for the first time in my life. I apologized for having not believed in Him and told Him I wanted to know Him. From that point on, I knew that God existed and that He loved me.
My friends gave me literature to help me understand why I needed Jesus. The Holy Spirit helped me understand my self-centeredness and sin, and that I needed Jesus to be on the throne of my heart. He became the King of my life.
Before applying for missionary staff, both Simon and Kata volunteered extensively with Jews for Jesus. Simon joined our London staff every Thursday, doing street evangelism, and just before beginning training, he was part of our 2010 New York City Summer Witnessing Campaign. Kata took part in our 2009 Summer Campaign in London. The following are a few of their experiences.
Kata: In London I had the privilege to talk to a nice Orthodox lady, who expressed her sorrow for me having been, as she believed, brainwashed. Though I know her motive in talking with me was simply to “win me back,” it was still an opportunity to witness, and I know God can use it.
Next I encountered a middle-aged Orthodox man. He angrily questioned my Jewishness, and announced that I would never be able to move to Israel. God kept me in His peace and meekness. To each of his accusations I had an answer from the Bible. Finally I spoke to him about Daniel 9:26. This indicates that the Messiah must have already come according to the time table and events prophesied. He had no reply, until finally he lifted his cell phone saying: “If you don’t leave in five seconds, I’ll phone the police.” I rejoiced, because I knew the Holy Spirit had cornered him. He had no answer, so he could only make a threat. I pray for him to find out the saving truth about our Messiah.
Simon: While handing out broadsides at Lincoln Center in New York, I bumped into Gloria, a retired Jewish lady who was fascinated by my T-shirt and eager to talk to me about being Jewish and believing in Jesus. She had been reading the Bible recently, and had employed a handyman who was telling her about Jesus every time he came to work at her house. She was impressed enough by the witness that she asked one of her Orthodox relatives “Why don’t Jewish people believe in Jesus?” She was surprised when he reacted angrily.
It turns out that she had met another Jews for Jesus awhile back, but had lost contact. Since I was able to get her recent contact information, I pray that as our New York branch connects with Gloria, she will come to faith in her Messiah.
Please pray for Kata and for the Lissak family who made the move “across the pond” in mid-August.