This summer, the Tilleses (Murray and Alana, along with their 14-year-old son Nathan and 11-year-old daughter Shayna) shared a mission trip together: a week with the Jews for Jesus Behold Your God New York campaign. Murray and Nathan took to the streets to evangelize, while Alana and Shayna stayed behind the scenes, cooking and taking care of laundry, among other things.
While Loren and Martha Jacobs were proclaiming Jesus in BYG Manhattan, their 18-year-old daughter Aliza was evangelizing along with the Long Island team. Mom and Dad stuck around for two weeks before moving on to other summer plans; Aliza was there for the duration, giving up most of her summer to tell people about Jesus.
18-year-old Melissa Weinisch had already left Manhattan, along with the rest of the Liberated Wailing Wall, by the time her mother Shoshannah arrived for her twoweek evangelistic stint in the Big Apple. (Shosh, by the way, came to the Lord through the ministry of former Jews for Jesus missionary Martha Jacobs, in 1979, and served on our staff before marrying Stewart Weinisch, who is also a Jewish believer in ministry.) Melissa and the team ministered in music throughout the various boroughs and handed out plenty of tracts as well. Melissa recruited her mother to come on the campaign.
Isaac Brickner and Jesse Zaretsky flew in for a week of the Manhattan campaign straight from Camp Gilgal, where they’d served as counselors for two weeks. They arrived exhausted from camp and plunged into an equally, if not more exhausting campaign schedule. Meanwhile, Isaac’s father David was busy as commander-in-chief over all nine campaigns and Jesse’s dad Tuvya was working hard on the New Jersey campaign.
Jews for Jesus board member Jeff Cohen had an intense time of witnessing in Brooklyn the first week of campaign, was videotaped by the New York Times and quoted extensively in the Times article— and was back in Atlanta well before his 18-year-old son Joshua arrived to finish the last two weeks of Behold Your God in New Jersey.
And there were several other campaigners similarly related to one another, including Steve and Janie-sue Wertheim and their daughter Rebekah, as well as Matt and Leigh Sieger and their daughter Ariel, who participated in our teen program, Halutzim.
No doubt all these parents and kids have had their moments of frustration with one another. Even the best parent-child relationships come down to a battle of the wills at some point. But when parents and kids are both more interested in God’s will than their own, they can share a terrific experience of serving Him. Take the Cohens, for example.
Jeff was recruited by Karol Joseph, having served with her on BYG Hartford in 2002. Josh was recruited by Josh Sofaer, having experienced our teen program, Halutzim (led by Sofaer), in 2004. Father and son decided to serve on BYG completely independently of one another.
Jeff says he came “to be a better board member with more first-hand experience in the actual ministry. And because I felt my witness to unbelievers had gotten rusty. I was spending time focused mostly inside the Body of Messiah.”
He also was glad to come on campaign before his son. “We stayed in touch by phone so I could give him a few pointers. New York was a little more intense than Hartford. Being on the streets, dealing with my apprehensions and experiencing God’s comfort—I talked to him about all of it knowing that he was also headed for the frontlines.”
Josh, who just graduated high school, has enrolled at Wheaton College, where he’ll soon be a freshman. He is a big sports fan, especially when it comes to the Yankees. He probably would have been hanging out with friends, reading and going to movies during the last two weeks of July had he not chosen to come on campaign. Having been on Halutzim, he was excited when Josh Sofaer called and invited him to participate. “I’m here because I can’t think of anything more productive that I could be doing with my time,” he said, when interviewed during the campaign.
Who can blame Jeff for being a proud papa? Josh is pretty mature in his faith, having known the Lord since he was five or six. Jeff came to faith when he was 33. “We are actually about the same age in the Lord,” Jeff smiled. “We both had a chance to be with our extended family [in Messiah] by being on this campaign . . . and the experience has given us all the more to share with each other back home.”