Beyond campus outreach
|Bruce at Arizona State University | PHOTO©JEWSFORJESUS|
“So am I now a born again Christian?”
I smiled and said, “Yes, and you are also a ‘born again Jew.'”
But let me start from the beginning. In early March I was sharing Yeshua on the campus of Arizona State University when a woman approached me and told me she was a Jewish believer in Jesus. Jan** wanted to tell me about her mother, Barbara.**
Barbara grew up in a semi-religious Jewish home in New York City where her mother was on staff at Yeshiva University, a private Jewish college. Barbara’s health has been declining these past few years and she is struggling with kidney issues. As Jan shared her grief over her mother’s illness, she told me how she has shared Jesus and the message of eternal life with her. However, her mother was not responsive to her attempts to discuss these things. Jan asked if I would be willing to call her mother and chat with her, which I was glad to do.
During my first conversation with Barbara we discovered that we grew up in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. We began to reminisce about Nathan’s hotdogs in Coney Island, delicious knishes in Brighton Beach, and enjoying Italian ices in the heat of the summer. We talked about how attending High Holiday services and being involved in our synagogues was a part of our lives. As we began to talk more about our God, Barbara asked if I was one of those ‘born again Christians.’ She made it clear that she didn’t want to discuss Jesus and was just fine with her Jewishness. Although she was adamant about this, she was open to meeting with me again so we could share more stories of life in Brooklyn.
Once again we met for coffee but not even fifteen minutes had gone by before Barbara brought up Jesus. And once again she asked, “So are you one of these born again Christians?” I explained that I am Jewish and will always be Jewish, but I believe in the Messiah Yeshua, the one the prophet Isaiah wrote of. I pulled out my Bible and turned to Isaiah 53. When I asked her who she thought the prophet was speaking of, she looked at me and said, "Sounds like Jesus.” When I told her Isaiah wrote this around seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, she was amazed.
As time went on Barbara and I continued to meet weekly, reminiscing about good food and laughing about Jewish life in Brooklyn. Each time I would guide our conversations to more serious issues such as life, death, and eternal hope in Yeshua.
Barbara and I became friends and God used me to speak into her life. During one particular conversation about Yeshua, Barbara went silent, and I then told her she doesn’t have to stop being a Jew by accepting Jesus as her Savior. Barbara was still silent. I then asked if she would like to have the hope that her daughter, I, and many other Jewish people have in Jesus. Barbara said yes, and we prayed together for forgiveness of her sins and for Jesus to take His place in her heart as Lord and Savior. After we prayed she asked me, “So am I now a born again Christian?” I smiled and said, “Yes and you are also a ‘born again Jew.'” Please pray for Barbara; she believes her days are numbered here on this earth. Pray that she would grow stronger in her new faith in Messiah Yeshua. That she would not falter, but grow as a “born again Jew.”
* Bubbe is a Jewish word for grandmother, and may be taken literally or simply as a term of endearment.
** Not their real names
Bruce Rapp heads the Phoenix branch of Jews for Jesus. He previously served with the leadership team of our New York branch and has served with our Chicago branch and as National Director of Mobile Evangelism at the San Francisco ministry headquarters. It was at a church's Easter production that he began considering the claims of Jesus. He was amazed to hear the pastor relate prophetic Hebrew scriptures--Isaiah 53, Micah 5, Psalm 22--to Jesus. Bruce found himself wondering, "Could this be true or are they changing the words?" Through reading the Bible and attending church services, the truth became unavoidably clear: they had not changed the words. Finally, during a presentation on King David, Bruce realized that no matter what he did or didn't do, he would always be a Jew--and, he says, by accepting Jesus, he has become a faithful Jew. Bruce is married to Tracy, and they have two grown children, Morgan and Jordan.