Missionary Diary: a day in the life of Jews for Jesus

Each person on staff with Jews for Jesus is charged with the assignment of making the most of each opportunity to share Messiah (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5). This is not only the joy and the job of the professional missionaries but also the administrative workers and our volunteers. In fact, as we pondered who might write this ‘Day in the Life’ article for Eternity, it became clear that our ministry is a composite and thus an amalgam of our days would best represent who we are in the mission of bringing the gospel to our Jewish people in Sydney and beyond.

James Howse, Administrator, 9 am

As I sit down to start the day, I begin by sorting messages from phone calls and emails we have received. One email is for Katie, our church engagement officer, organising opportunities for our missionary workers to speak in churches, helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of the things we together believe and God’s plan to have the Gentiles preach the Jewish good news back to the Jewish people.

James Howse of Jews for Jesus

James Howse

We have letters from the post office, including faithful Christians supporting our work, sometimes by gift, other times by purchasing books and other resources from us. I pass an order to Jimmy, our shop assistant who packages up the ordered books with a friendly note. Another voicemail gets passed to Nataly, our intern who hails from Israel. Her enthusiasm to meet Israeli visitors to Australia and share the gospel with them means she’s excited to follow up with a question we’ve been asked about how someone can be Jewish and believe Yeshua is the Messiah. The day has only just started and there’s already much going on. I joke that I do “adMinistry,” instead of ministry, and it’s true. Doing what we do is a team effort, not the work of an individual.

Jimmy White, Evangelist/ Shop assistant, 10 am

An hour ago, I opened the shop, turned on the lights, made sure the audio was playing good messianic music, to set the atmosphere with sounds that acknowledge and uplift the one whom we serve, Yeshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus. The till is settled from yesterday, and I  prepare today’s float. Before I get settled, into the shop comes one of our regulars who comes to buy some candles and oils, and a book to give to a Jewish mate. We have prayed for and believe the Lord will continue to send us honest inquirers. Helping Christians to help their friends and neighbours is a big role we have.

Jimmy White of Jews for Jesus

Jimmy White

After helping Lou with her purchase, a Jewish woman comes inside. There is not a day that goes by without the curiosity of some unbeliever, who is struck with cognitive dissonance, looking at the sign over the footpath: JEWS FOR JESUS. They stop, look inside, look up at the sign, look again inside, and many come to the door. Some don’t brave their way inside, but most do. Some don’t even know what to ask. This lady did ask, and she ended up with more answers than she anticipated. Her name is Ginger, and she is originally from Western Europe. She left with some household Judaica products and a copy of Bob’s testimony book.

The continual curiosity reminds me of what happened after the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Shavuot/ Pentecost (Acts 2.1-4) when the early body of Messiah was gathered and as Peter stood and was ready to give a reason for what had just transpired. What is this?  And we get to explain ‘this’ to them. God is awesome.

Katie Lee, Church Engagement Officer, 2 pm

I receive a phone call from Justin. He introduces himself as an Elder from a Baptist Church in Melbourne and says he heard about us through his sister, Carol, who lives in Newcastle. Carol has attended one of our most popular presentations shared by Bob, our staff leader, called “Christ in the Passover”. That preaching took place during Passover and Easter this year. Justin said Carol and her church members were greatly encouraged and uplifted by Bob’s talk and found the deeper meaning and connection between Passover and Easter through the lens of the Jewish root of faith. She strongly recommended he consider hosting a similar meeting at his church as she believes it will be a blessing to him and his church communities.

Katie Lee of Jews for Jesus

Katie Lee

I chat with Justin to give him more detailed information about the talk and the booking process. Justin seems very interested and passes on his Senior Pastor’s contact details so I could proceed with scheduling the meeting.

Bob Mendelsohn, missionary, 7.40 pm

For most, the day is over when the bell rings at their office or school. For a missionary, our job is done when no one needs us that day. Just now I meet with Glenn, a South African Jewish man I’ve known for about 18 months. He started back then with some normal curiosity about the religion we represent, and that has morphed into Bible studies and shared meals and teas. Again today, we meet near his home, after each of us has eaten dinner, and Glenn has many more questions than ever, it seems. He is spiritual but not religious, even though at times he says Hebrew prayers, but he has not been to a synagogue in years. He believes in a Higher Power and is fascinated by how we Jews for Jesus make it work with Jewish holidays and Hebrew and yet with Yeshua as front-and-centre in our enterprise. Is God getting through to him? We can only hope and pray.

8.30 pm

I’m not quite done. As we end our time together, I pray with Glenn for God to be kind to him and his family. Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus, used to explain that getting Jewish people to read the Bible (with you) or to pray (with you) is getting them used to our spiritual disciplines and helps them get comfortable with the God we know. I try this on Glenn. Sure enough, he senses that this religion brings ease to him. We’re not done yet since Yeshua is not done with Glenn!

9.45 pm

Back home, I record some information in our computer database about what transpired that day, recording each Jewish encounter so that our records are up-to-date and we can be honest about raw data when people ask us ‘How are things going in the mission?’ It’s been a long day but worthwhile, to be sure. Each of us (we have others around the traps, but this is a simple composite of only some of us) senses that God has been sovereign and leading us well to make his name known among our Jewish people. Your prayers, Eternity readers, help us keep up the good work he’s given us.

Tomorrow will be another day in our bookshop, in people’s homes or a nearby coffee shop, on the phone, through mailings and even perhaps a public event; our work is never done. God’s work is not done. And we are still looking to make the most of each opportunity God gives us.

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