I first met Steve when he and his wife Janet attended our High Holiday services in September of 1990. I had not noticed them, as there were more than 100 people at each of the services. My father, who is not yet a believer, talked to Steve. Then he pulled me aside to tell me that Steve was not yet a believer, but was very interested in finding out why we believe in Jesus! I thanked my father and struck up a conversation with Steve.
I learned that his wife Janet had become a believer as a young girl. Then she had married Steve, a Jewish non-believer. She loved her husband, but she recognized that it had been wrong for her, a believer, to marry a non-believer. Now she was praying for her husband to be saved. She had been receiving our Newsletter for a few years and was hoping that some day Steve would accompany her to a Jews for Jesus event.
Janet had attended one of our Passover banquets and had greatly enjoyed it. In past years, she and Steve had gone to High Holiday services at a traditional synagogue, but when she suggested the idea of attending the Jews for Jesus service this time, Steve agreed quickly.
I asked Steve if I could visit with them in their home, and he invited me to come that week. Steve was eager to discuss spiritual matters. We opened the Scriptures, both Old and New, and he had a multitude of questions!! I had the opportunity to share my story with him and found out that we even had attended the same junior high school in Queens, New York.
I kept visiting with Steve, and we became friends. He began attending our regular Tuesday night Bible study and even began going to a church in Manhattan that I recommended. The church was good for Janet, and she began growing even more in the Lord. Steve recognized the benefit of the church in Janet’s life. He told me that he felt there was a gulf between him and Janet in this one area of their lives together. He wanted to share in his wife’s faith and understanding of God and the Scriptures, but he knew that it was something he would have to do for himself.
Later when I spoke to Steve again, he said that he was closer to accepting Jesus than ever before. I asked him why he did not make a commitment right then and there. He said that he was simply not ready yet. I prayed that the Lord would cause him to be ready soon! The following Sunday we were at church together and the pastor preached a sermon on worship. It was a very clear and revealing message. I asked Steve after the service if he had ever heard anything like what was said in that sermon when he was attending Hebrew school. We both smiled, knowing that he had not.
Steve called the next day. When I returned his call, he told me that he had gone home after church and prayed with Janet to ask Jesus to be his Savior. He added, And I feel really good about it!”
It took a while from the time Steve and Janet first came to our High Holiday services, but that was the beginning of Steve’s coming to Christ. Since then Steve has continued to grow in faith, and I rejoice in the uniting of another family in the Messiah.
I first met Susan when she contacted our Jews for Jesus office on the recommendation of a Christian friend who had been witnessing to her. Susan’s friend felt that, not being Jewish herself, she could not fully answer Susan’s objections, so she sent her to us. When Karol, a missionary trainee at the time, met Susan, she seemed very open to the gospel but also very cautious.
Karol began meeting with Susan regularly. Within a few weeks Susan began attending our Tuesday evening Bible study where we were studying the Gospel of Matthew. She sat quietly, but every once in a while she asked a question. She was obviously sincere and seeking the Lord but seemed somewhat overwhelmed by the Bible studies. She came to a few of our events, but still was not ready to make a decision to commit her life to the Lord.
Karol left New York to take up her new post, and Susan was hoping that someone else would continue to visit with her. I encouraged her to come to our High Holiday services, and she attended our service on Yom Kippur. She was attentive during the service, smiling at times. When the message was given from 2 Corinthians 5:17, Susan listened eagerly. She wanted to become a new creation in the Messiah Yeshua, but felt her Jewishness was keeping her from making a commitment to Him. By the end of the message, however, when the invitation was given, Susan knew that it was possible for her to be Jewish and believe in Jesus. She raised her hand to make that commitment.
When I called Susan after the holiday, she said, “I was hoping someone would call!” I asked her if she had enjoyed the service, and she said she had. Then she announced enthusiastically, “I really meant it when I raised my hand!” I was surprised and greatly delighted that she said it with such conviction.
Susan became involved in regular weekly personal Bible study and continued to attend our weekly Tuesday Bible studies as well. She no longer seemed so overwhelmed by it all.
In our first meeting after she made her commitment to Yeshua, I asked Susan if she had been holding off until Yom Kippur. She said not exactly, but since the question that was keeping her from making that decision was whether she could accept Jesus and still be Jewish, she had felt that she would get her answer at the Yom Kippur service. Once she did, she knew that it was right for her to make that commitment.
Many Jewish people like Steve, and like Susan, have made a decision for the Lord because of or during a High Holiday service. Usually it has been at a messianic service like ours, but sometimes it has even happened during a conventional synagogue service as the Holy Spirit convicted someone about what he or she had heard concerning sin and Yeshua’s work of atonement.
The Lord is good! He does use our High Holiday ministry to touch hearts. We need to pray during this High Holiday season that many will find new life and sins forgiven through the Messiah Jesus. Please pray specifically for your Jewish friends and for the services Jews for Jesus will be conducting at our various branches this year.