29 August 2007

Telling a story


Richard9.JPG
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
It's only natural to share our thoughts with others. I do that on this blog and in my journal and even via photos, I suppose. As a result, my Flickr site (click here) is really a story-telling exercise. Via photos and text, I tell what I'm thinking, what I'm seeing, what seems to be in the public eye or in the public conversation.

My friend Richard is sharing a story or two with some new folks at the LCJE conference we all attended in Lake Ballaton, Hungary last week. And telling the story is what we are all about.

I shared from the platform the following evening the following stories:

Thank you to the ICC for including Australia in the program this week. 100,000 people registered as Jews in the census last year in Australia. Among the missionaries there and others working for our Jewish people’s salvation, most of our work is ordinary, most of our work is non-spectacular. Our joy and our job is to keep on keeping on no matter what the response. And among the arsenal that God uses to assist us in this regular working are the stories. And among all the stories that have been told in the last few years, these three, from Jews for Jesus staffers, seem to show what God can and does do. May you be encouraged and more confident in the Saviour and in his plans for all people, even as far away as the ‘ends of the earth.’

From Street corner to Special Meeting
By Rahel Landrum

Rahel was passing out gospel tracts in the main business district of Sydney when Estelle met her and responded with “Jesus was a nice Jewish boy,”(2006). Estelle was willing to continue to meet with Rahel to talk about Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah who could give her life and forgiveness of sins. While they met and discussed the Bible, Estelle suggested Rahel should come and talk to her group that meets at the humanist society. Rahel agreed. She had other unsaved Jewish people make similar suggestions regarding secular or other Jewish groups, but nothing had ever eventuated. To her surprise, Rahel got a call from the organizer, asking if she could come and speak to the group. So we got the chance to go and address a group of 14 self-defined atheists and skeptics.

Besides comments of disagreement, we didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a very worthwhile meeting. Even before Rahel started to speak, people came to look and buy the books we brought. The original organizer had an emergency in the family and had Fred, another leader of the group moderate the meeting instead. Rahel noticed Fred’s accent and asked him where he was from. Fred told her he was born in Germany but his family fled to Shanghai before WWII. Rahel asked, ‘You’re not Jewish, are you?’ Fred said he was. So Fred, an atheist Jew had to introduce and moderate a meeting where a Jew for Jesus was speaking. Rahel spoke about how we can’t ignore the fact that Jesus is who He says He is, told her testimony of faith, and showed how one can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. We did get what we expected, comments of disagreement but also other, more pleasant ones. One person came after the meeting and said that this was one of the most interesting and liveliest discussions they’ve had. The best response came from John, the most belligerent person who needed to be constantly asked to not interrupt Rahel’s speech. At the end he said, ‘if she believes in the Bible so passionately, maybe I should go back home and start reading it.”

Mark Landrum, Rahel’s husband has another story. He says,

It was a missionary’s dream. An Israeli rang our office wanting to talk about Y'shua. (2006) Gal was his name and he had been reading about Jewish people believing in Jesus during his recent travels in New Zealand. He had stayed with a few Christian people from the HIT (Hosting Israeli Travellers) program who lovingly shared the Gospel with him, gave him Messianic books in English & Hebrew, and showed him ‘The Passion of the Christ’ video. The movie impacted Gal so much that since then he’d rented the video and seen it five more times. After that he decided it was more economical to purchase the video.

The next stop in his travels was Sydney. By the time he got to us and we met with him, he was very close to making a decision to accept Y'shua as his Messiah. It was important for him to meet other Jewish people and, particularly an Israeli like Rahel, who believed in Jesus. Several days later, Gal prayed to accept Jesus as his Messiah and became a new creation in Him.

His baptism two weeks later was seriously eventful. One of Mark’s former neighbours, who is Jewish and not so happy about our faith, was present at the public beach where we had the event. When he found out Gal was also Jewish, he tried to interfere, hoping to stop the baptism. Upon getting out of the water, Gal had the opportunity to give an account of his faith and public commitment to follow Jesus. As our neighbour, Jonathan approached him, Gal’s words were: ‘Now that I believe in Jesus, I feel more Jewish than ever before.” Since then Gal’s growing in the faith tremendously .

Gal just finished serving on the JFJ Summer campaign this July in New York City. How good is that! Who knows what is next for this 25 year old new Jewish believer.

Of course, I have a story too.

London to Launceston to Lordship from Bob Mendelsohn

Peter is 57 and came to Tasmania, Australia, from the suburbs of London about 30 years ago. He was very committed to his Jewish family and the religion of the rabbis. He travelled a fair bit and conducted business in Sydney and Melbourne and all over Tasmania. He found pleasure in many things and people, but longed to find a real connection with God. The synagogue was empty; his own life in his own words was 'empty' as well. Peter had done some serious study on religion. He grew up in a very normal Jewish home with lots of questions and fewer answers

He went to hear Billy Graham in London 30 years ago and even went forward at the invitation, but he lived as if nothing occurred that night.

I was out on the streets of the centre of Launceston (2006) and Peter was surprised to meet me handing out Gospel tracts there. I gave him a tract I had written for a big football game that was on the next day. He stopped and read the whole thing. He asked me if I was the author. 'Yes,' I answered.

Seems Peter had visited our website and even watched a segment on the religious affairs TV show, Compass. He was captivated, that he and I should be meeting in such an unlikely location. (I find it very likely). After 20 more minutes of religious 'unpacking' and answering his questions, Peter and I sat down to pray together. 'Jesus, I accept you as my Messiah and Saviour. You died for me and rose to give me new life,' he prayed. How awesome is our God who does all things well.

We continue to meet on the phone several times a month and he’s studying his Bible and meeting up with other believers in a continued walk with Y’shua. Thanks be to God!

Brothers and sisters, other ministries in Australia and New Zealand of the LCJE have stories to tell as well. Thanks for your prayers and thanks for remembering us. Though geographically separate, may God bless us each together that we all may be one. And may we all have a story to tell today and throughout our days. Amen.

What's your story?

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