Everyone has ups and downs, and last fall was like a roller coaster ride in terms of my ministry in D.C. The week before Yom Kippur, I was happy to receive an email asking me to contact a Jewish woman named Jackie. Her mother, a Jewish believer in Jesus, wanted us to witness to her daughter. I called the following day and left a message on Jackie’s voice mail. Later her mother sent another email telling us that her daughter had been very upset that I called. Her mom requested that we keep her daughter in prayer, but discontinue attempts to reach out to her until further notice. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t the first time that someone didn’t want talk about Jesus, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
A week passed, and the day before Yom Kippur the phone at our branch was quite busy. Several callers had the wrong number, as our local office was somehow receiving calls meant for the hair salon at the Jewish convalescent home down the street! Lots of elderly ladies were calling for their pre-holiday hair-do, and hung up in disgust when I explained that they had actually reached us in error. Others were bewildered because they thought that Jews for Jesus had set up shop at the Hebrew Home. I like to believe that God orchestrated that little glitch because it allowed us to witness, however briefly, to people we would not ordinarily meet.
Finally we received a call from Melissa, a woman who’d called intentionally, asking where she could attend a Messianic Yom Kippur service. I gave her the information and asked if she was a believer in Jesus. She told me she wasn’t there” yet. She had been attending a church with her husband, but was very confused. I offered to talk with her further, perhaps over a cup of coffee, and she was very grateful to find someone to help her in her spiritual search.
We met at a local diner and her husband came along. When her husband excused himself for a moment, Melissa explained that he was a recovering drug addict, and they were having a rough time because of it.
When her husband returned to table, I asked Melissa what she believed about Jesus, and that was the beginning of a good spiritual conversation.
I began to show them how our beliefs are rooted in Scripture, and as we closed our visit I asked Melissa to look up John, chapter 1 and to begin to read for the next time we got together.
The following week the three of us met again. The visit went well and Melissa was excited to see the parallels between the first chapter of Genesis and the first chapter of the Gospel of John. As I walked away from the visit, I rejoiced that they were making progress and willing to continue to meet to study the Scriptures.
The two visits had gone so well, I believed that Melissa was close to receiving the Lord. How surprised I was when she called a few days later to tell me that she didn’t want to continue meeting with me. Her husband was using drugs again, and she concluded that every time she’d come close to trusting Jesus, something terrible happened. I tried to tell her that this was the time to seek God, and not turn away from Him. I explained that there was another power at work that wanted to keep her from finding the Truth. She would not hear any of it. I was deeply saddened.
I came into the office somewhat discouraged the next day … only to find that Jackie’s mother had called once again. She wanted us to know she had led her daughter to the Lord—and we should feel free to call her!
Life certainly has its ups and downs and that’s just as true for missionaries as it is for anyone else. Disappointment may be just around the corner, but so is the joy of seeing God at work when we least expect it.