Zvi Oct/Nov 1996
Over the years, the Lord has taught my wife and me to have an open-door policy in our home. People are coming and going all of the time, and some even sleep here—for one night or many nights. Once each year an elderly gentleman from Germany visits Israel. He does not come to see us only—he has many friends here—but he usually ends up sleeping in our home.
When he visited this year he said to me, “Zvi, I am not getting any younger. I am 80 years old now, and before I die I want you and your wife to visit me in Germany, even if only for a few days. I want to repay some of the kindness you have shown me over the years.” This was the first time my wife had been outside of Israel in 48 years, but, as it is written in Ecclesiastes 11:1, “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.” And so, off we went to Germany.
This man is a true believer in Christ, and when we arrived he had arranged a big surprise for me. I was invited to speak in an assembly where most of the people are Russian immigrants. There were approximately 400 people in attendance, and because I can speak both German and Russian, this meeting presented a wonderful opportunity to speak with them about faith in Christ. After I spoke, many of the people asked what it is like to be a believer in Israel. I replied, “As it is written in Mark 16:15, we are to ‘Go…into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ This is what I do, right there in Israel—and now here in Germany.”
While many of the people present were believers and very receptive to what I was saying, I was reminded once again of King Solomon’s words, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). You see, there were a few Jews in the crowd who were just as stiff-necked as their brethren in Israel. As soon as they made their presence known, I knew what they were going to ask because I have heard the same things from such people time and time again over the years. “Did you come here to make us Christians?” they asked. “How can this be, especially from someone who is from Jerusalem?” I replied, “ I have come here to make you good Jews. I want you to turn back to the Bible, to your roots, and then you will know the whole truth about the Lord and what He expects of us as His children. He wants us to be His servants and to tell of His salvation to the ends of the earth. Because you do not know what the Bible is really about and, of course, you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, I am not surprised that you asked me such questions. Now that you have heard the truth, if you do not turn to the Lord, you are responsible for yourselves before God. I have done my duty, as it is written in Ezekiel 33:7–9: ‘So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.’”
These men spoke a little German, but most of our conversation was in Russian. This was the first time that a person from Israel had spoken to them about Christ and, what’s more, in their own language.
My host had another surprise for me during our visit to Germany. One day two of the leaders from the assembly where I preached visited us, and I recognized them immediately. They had come to Israel a few years before and had stayed in our home. They are Russian immigrants to Germany. When they visited me in Israel, I knew that they were believers, but they never mentioned that they were leaders in an assembly with more than 400 people. They have lived near the town of Hanover for several years now, but they still do not know the German language. A long time ago, I wondered why it was that I was able to learn so many languages. Now I can see that being fluent in nine languages is not enough, considering the many people I have met and witnessed to over the years.
It was a great blessing for me, a Jew from Israel, to preach about our Savior Jesus Christ to so many people and to meet two of the leaders of this wonderful assembly. I encouraged them to continue reading the Bible and trusting in the Lord. I told them, “You would be surprised how many people believe in Him as their Savior among our own people, the Jews. The apostles and the first believers were all Jews, and they believed what is written in Deuteronomy 18:15, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren…unto him ye shall hearken.’ When we trust in the Lord and His Word, we always move ahead spiritually, never backward.”
Just as the stiff-necked people in Jerusalem always want to see for themselves what I am speaking about from the Bible, so these Jews in Germany were no different. Again, this was not a surprise to me because I realized that most of them had probably never owned a Bible. When German believers spoke with them about Christ, they would not believe them because they were Gentiles and were using what they refer to as the “Gentile Bible.” Of course, I was glad to show them my Hebrew language Bible, so that they could see for themselves that I was not making up the words I was preaching to them. It was all from the Word of God.
There is a saying in Yiddish, “How can a cat cross the sea?” Likewise, how can a Jew from Jerusalem go to another country and preach the gospel of Christ. It seems impossible, but it happened. I am not saying that every day was like a carnival. We were in Germany for two weeks, and there were some rough days, but the good times far outweighed the bad. I was thrilled that the Lord gave me the special privilege of preaching to so many people, many of whom had never heard the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Truly, as it is written in Isaiah 2:3, “out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ from Jerusalem.” And so we saw that our trip to Germany was not in vain. The Lord brought forth much fruit, for which we sincerely thank Him.
Now I want to share with you some special news from our family. My wife and I are again happy grandparents following the birth of twin girls to one of our sons and his dear wife. The Lord has now blessed us with eleven grandchildren through our four children. As it is written in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful, and multiply.” The Lord has answered our prayers in so many wonderful ways—through our family and through the opportunity to preach His salvation to the ends of the earth. It is a great joy to listen to such a symphony from the Lord—a symphony that will never end.