The Extra Chair

Martha Jacobs and I were assigned to represent Jews for Jesus at a Christian convention in New Orleans . It was our hope that many believers would come to the display we set up and take our evangelistic literature to pass onto their Jewish friends and co-workers. We also wanted to be available to answer any specific questions on how to witness to Jewish people. Many Christians came over to our booth in the exhibit area, and we felt that our aims were being met.

Then a young man, Bob, wandered by. He started browsing through the broadsides and editions of Issues out on our table. I walked over to him and asked if I could help. From the look on his face it was evident that he was not particularly interested in witnessing to Jewish people and why should he be? You see, Bob was Jewish, and not a believer. He had come by our booth because he had some "time to kill" before the evening message by Charles Colson. While we knew his need was for the Messiah to come into his life, his immediate need was for a place to sit down and rest his weary legs. And we had an extra chair .

We talked a little bit about Jews for Jesus and why he was here among all these Christians. During our conversation a number of people came by the booth and (probably because he was sitting with us and probably because he was male) directed their questions on witnessing to Jews to Bob. For example, a lovely woman walked up to Bob and said, "I just love the Jewish people and I have a Jewish doctor and I was wondering if you could recommend a book that I could give him to see that Jesus is the Messiah." Either Martha or I would interject in these instances, explaining that Bob was not a Jew for Jesus yet. I don’t know how many of those wonderful people started praying for Bob that very day. Yet I’m sure many did, for Bob turned to us and said, "I know that the two of you will probably be tired at the end of the meeting tonight, but I was wondering if you’d like to go for some coffee and donuts later." So, a little past ten, the three of us went to a little cafe in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I had a chance to share my personal story with Bob, and he listened intently. He admitted to us that he was confused. His life was in disarray. He and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce. He didn’t like his living situation. He needed a change, but he didn’t know what to do.

Bob was curious but was not yet in a place where he was thirsting for the living water only Jesus can give. Martha and I took his address, and he took the address of our headquarters office in San Francisco . He plans to be out here within a month, and he promised to visit us. I can’t help but think that perhaps God will be preparing Bob in the weeks ahead for his time in San Francisco . I pray that as Bob visits us, the Messiah will visit him, and we won’t have to say, "He isn’t a Jew for Jesus yet."


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Susan Perlman | San Francisco

Director of Communications, Missionary

Susan Perlman is one of the co-founders of Jews for Jesus. Susan is the associate executive director of Jews for Jesus and also director of communications for the organization. She also serves as the editor in chief of ISSUES, their evangelistic publication for Jewish seekers. She left a career track in New York City to help launch Jews for Jesus in San Francisco in the early 1970s. See more here.

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