Chicago branch leader Jeremiah Zaretsky
How does someone come to faith in Messiah Jesus? For some there is an instant they can point to, an “aha!” moment. For others it is a process that takes place over a long period of time. In both cases, more often than not, God works through multiple people during the seeker’s journey. I was one such person whom God placed in the life of a young man named Robin.
Almost one year ago Robin was invited to come for Shabbat dinner at David and Arielle Randle’s apartment on the north side of Chicago. For over two years now, the Chicago branch has used Shabbat dinners intentionally to create a Messianic community and to engage with Jewish seekers who are exploring their faith.
The Shabbat dinner Robin went to in January of last year was the first of many steps he took towards accepting Jesus. Months later, we met at a Seder my congregation was hosting. However it wasn’t until I saw Robin show up at my house one week for Shabbat dinner that we began talking. I asked if he would be willing to meet together over coffee so we could get to know each other and he said yes.
Robin was born in Germany to a German father and a Jewish mother and grew up there with his brother. Both of his parents are believers and even though he grew up in a believing home, Robin had never been exposed to a community of faith where he felt he could be authentic in the face of his fears and doubts. When he was introduced to our Shabbat dinners, he stumbled upon something he couldn’t shake – a community of people truly committed to living out their faith. A seed had been planted.
Jeremiah and Robin
Many people, both among our staff and within the local community of Jewish believers, witnessed to Robin over the following months. Eventually, the two of us started meeting regularly to study the Bible together. In our first meeting, Robin admitted to me that he never really followed Jesus as “Lord” because he was afraid of giving up control of his life. We continued to meet and Robin continued to wrestle with the prospect of surrendering his life to the Lord. The seed was growing.
At the end of the summer, Robin got in touch to tell me that while he was on a plane to German to visit his brother, he found Jesus! As Robin explained it to me, he was reading some writings of C. S. Lewis and one line struck him: “Jesus was either a Lunatic, a Liar, or Lord.”
“It was then that I decided to bend the knee to Jesus,” Robin told me. “Between my Christian counselor, C. S. Lewis and Jews for Jesus, I have found faith in Yeshua.” He explained how God had broken some vices in his life and has brought him freedom through the love of Messiah. God’s love finally had travelled the eighteen inches from Robin’s head to his heart!
I was so ecstatic to hear and see evidence of God’s transforming power in Robin’s life. I may have watered the seed, but it was the Lord who brought the harvest!
Robin is now participating in our Chicago branch residency program for a season of service and discipleship. He had his very first taste of street evangelism during our Wicker Park outreach!