Bits from the Branches
New York City
Jeremiah Zaretsky reports, “I was handing out broadsides (gospel tracts) at the “Taste of Times Square” last night. Towards the end of the sortie (tract-passing expedition) I met two Israeli tourists. I asked the first guy who he thought Mashiach was. ‘I’m Mashiach,’ he replied. I thought he was making fun of our faith, but wouldn’t you know it, the guy pulled out his identification card and there I read his first name ‘Mashiach.’ Well that was a first! I told the two guys that I believe Yeshua is the Messiah. Mashiach’s friend piped up, ‘My name is Yohoshua’ (which is Hebrew for Joshua, which is a variant of Jesus’ name in Hebrew). So here I was talking to Messiah and Joshua from Israel about Jesus the Messiah from Israel! No joke!”
Stephen Katz reports, “I moved to DC nine years ago and began to meet with a few of the Jewish seekers that my predecessor, Garrett Smith, had visited with, including Jesse, a lawyer who worked for the government.
“Jesse and I have met on and off for the past nine years, and continue to meet to this day. At times, he appeared very close to receiving Jesus as Lord, but then he’d back away. We would have no contact for a long time—even years— and then we’d start meeting again.
“I’ve seen Jesse as an agnostic Jew, a church attendee, and most recently as an aspiring Buddhist. That was a year ago.
“Recently, in preparing to visit Jesse after this hiatus, I decided that I would simply ask about his life, listen, and ask how I could be praying for him. You can imagine my surprise when Jesse calmly told me, ‘I’ve joined a church and I sing in the choir.’ He said he’s been there six months.
“Jesse explained that through all these years of seeking—and, might I add, being sought—that he continues to be drawn to the life and teachings of Jesus. When asked about the historic tenets of the faith (Jesus is God incarnate, Jesus was bodily resurrected, etc.), he said he is unsure and continues to read theologians, both conservative and liberal, to sort it out.
“Frankly, though he drew close to Jesus before, only to draw away, I am encouraged by this new (renewed?) direction in Jesse’s life. As the poet Francis Thompson, once observed, ‘the Hound of Heaven’ can pursue a heart over a period of years. I have a renewed vision of His work in Jesse’s life: ‘Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace…'”
Kata Tar reports, “I talked to a nice girl, Lili, a student of Arabic studies and also a student at the rabbi training institute. We met a few months ago when she took our broadside. ‘Jews for Jesus?’ she asked, raising her voice and her eyebrows. She was really curious, so we arranged a meeting. Lili, who has some Jewish relatives, told me how she had always believed in God, although both of her parents were atheists. She chose Arab studies because she loves Arab people and wants to be a peacemaker between Jews and Arabs. We talked about how Yeshua is the ultimate peacemaker, which brought up the subject of how someone can profess Christ and yet be anti-Semitic. To illustrate how we like to point out the Jewish roots of Christianity, I mentioned our ‘Without Hanukkah There Would Be No Christmas’ postcard (shown in our August 2011 newsletter).
“Lili interrupted me: ‘I know that postcard. It is on my fridge door! My roommate got it from one of you.’ (Her roommate has a mix of Jewish heritage and Catholic upbringing.) What is the chance of this? The postcard found its way from the United States to a Jewish home in Hungary, and instead of landing in a trash can it is now being looked upon every day. How encouraging!”
Jews for Jesus has no branch in Poland, but we do have a core of wonderful volunteers who have been following up from our summer outreach there. Praise the Lord, after our team left, these wonderful Christians continued the work. So far they have prayed with a dozen people we met during campaign, three of whom are Jewish, to receive the Lord. The volunteers are excited to share what they learned about evangelism with other Christians in hopes that more will witness boldly for Jesus in Warsaw.