I’d just gotten back from my three-week Christ in the Passover tour and our Passover banquet was just six days away. Thankfully, volunteers had stepped up to the plate, including two of our co-laborers who were both traveling three hours to help with the event. Still, the day before a banquet is usually hectic—and that was the day I received a call from our Minister-at-Large office in San Francisco.
A man was dying in Miami. Jacob was Jewish and not a believer in Jesus. His wife and daughter-in-law, both Christians, wanted desperately for him to hear the gospel. They found our San Francisco headquarters listed in the yellow pages, and that’s how the call was referred to me.
I began to pray, “Lord, you know I am not able to get there until the day after the banquet. Please keep Jacob alive until I get there or send someone else to share the gospel with him.” I called the family, explained the situation, and promised to come down in two days. I asked them to pray that I’d get there in time.
The Passover banquet went well. We had some Jewish guests who don’t yet believe in Jesus, and they certainly heard the gospel. Some had come quite a distance to be there and had been looking forward to this event for a long time. It was important that I give my all for those who came to celebrate Passover with our Jews for Jesus ministry. At the same time, I kept thinking about Jacob, and silently prayed for him throughout the evening. And, to be honest, I felt somewhat guilty that I was not able to get to him right away.
The next morning, I called Jacob’s family. To my great relief, he was still hanging on. I told them I’d be there in an hour. I prayed en route that we would be able to have a lucid conversation. When I arrived, I walked into his room and his wife warmly greeted me. I said hello to Jacob and he opened his eyes. After some small talk, I got right to the heart of the matter.
“Jacob,” I said, “Do you know why I am here?”
He shook his head, “No.”
“I am here because your family wanted you to know that it is okay for Jews to believe in Jesus. Who do you think Jesus is?”
Jacob could barely talk, but he indicated that he wasn’t sure. As I explained the problem of sin and God’s offer of salvation Jacob’s eyes were wide open. He was listening intently. When I said, “Jacob, your wife wants you to go to heaven,” he smiled. He remained alert as I explained that Jesus made it possible; he listened as I read John 3:16 and some passages from Romans. I asked him if he believed that he was a sinner. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if he wanted to receive Jesus as his Messiah and sin-bearer and have the eternal life promised in John 3:16.
Jacob’s wife was watching intently. To her surprise, he nodded and said, “Yes.” I asked him if I could pray and he could repeat after me. I wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it, but he did. So, Jacob, his wife and I held hands and Jacob repeated my prayer asking God to forgive him and accept him on the basis of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection. After the prayer, Jacob spontaneously gave praise to God by saying, “Baruch HaShem,” which is Hebrew for “Bless the Name.” I asked him again who Jesus was, and he said, “The Messiah.” He understood. I played a couple of tunes on my flute for him before I left. He smiled.
As I was leaving, I thanked God that he allowed me to get to Jacob in time. I was reminded that all things happen on God’s schedule.
Surprisingly, Jacob stayed with us through late July, and we enjoyed some sweet times together. He’d smile when I came to visit, and was able to remember that he was trusting Jesus. Now he is in heaven with his Messiah. Baruch HaShem!