Many who arrived from Europe into America during the early and mid 1900’s had their name changed at Ellis Island (in New York) to a more easily pronounceable one. But when God changes a name, there is a pronounced purpose in doing that. He not only changes the name, but changes the calling and mission of that person. Just think of Abraham, Jacob, and Simon. When God changes a name we look for transformation. As we looked for a Jewish name in the apartment’s directory, we prayed that some person would not only give us entrance into the building, but that their name might one day have the word “saint” attached to it and that their name would be written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Last Monday evening there was one team: Danielle, Sarah and me (Tina). With every outreach we pray that God will lead us through the challenges that lie behind each door. We have to trust that all will work out to the Glory of our Heavenly Father. After all, He knows every move ahead of time. With that in mind, we always start out joyfully, refusing to be discouraged, anticipating success in our pursuit.
As we said last week, the Master Locksmith is in charge of opening the first door at the main entrance. As the three of us were standing around with no one in sight to give us access inside, we decided to look for a Jewish sounding family name in the tenants’ directory. We thought perhaps this way, we could call someone up, explain our intention and be allowed in. So Danielle picked out a name and a lady answered. After sharing just a little, this lady said, “No thank you” and hung up. Just at that moment, a young lady came in and opened the front door for us. And so we were blessed to be inside once again.
We started on the 12th floor…. At our first knock, a old man opened up and said, “No thank you”. At the second door, a lady asked from inside what this was all about, and when we told her that we had a Hebrew/English Tanach to give as a gift, she said, “No”, and added that we were not supposed to be there. With an answer like that, we wondered whether she would call security, which would have necessitated our leaving the building. But God kept the fire alive and we were not intercepted.
And so in spite of the woman’s threat, we continued on to the next door. A young man answered, and listened carefully as we shared that we had come with a gift and a blessing for him. He was all smiles, and commented that he thought this was beautiful. He was from Israel, and told us that in Israel, every high school student got a Tanach at graduation. That was good to hear, however Danielle mentioned that we were offering the Brit Hadasha as well. We explained that the New Covenant contains many of the prophetic fulfillments given by OT prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel. We pointed out that this was an entirely Jewish book. He accepted the complete set with a spirit of gladness. May this young man be blessed by the Word.
The next door was opened by a father, mother and two children, but the father and his children soon disappeared and left the mother by herself at the door. She listened as we told her we had come to bless Jewish families with a gift. She hardly said a word. Then Danielle asked her whether she was Jewish, to which she replied that she was “half Jewish”. Daniel asked her if she ever thought about her life and what it would be like after this life. She went on to offer her a Bible. There was no response and finally she said, “No thank you” to the set.
The next person who opened the door listened carefully, accepted the Tanakh, but refused to take the New Covenant.
Down to the 11th floor… On that floor, there were only two doors with a Mezuzah. At the first door, there was no answer. The second door was opened by an elderly gentleman who said, “Not interested, thank you.”
Down to the next floor. On the 10th floor, a lady opened, but after telling her that we wanted to bless her and other Jewish families with a gift, she also responded with a “No thank you”.
The 9th floor had one door with a mezuzah and a response of “No thanks”.
On the next floor down, the 8th floor, we knocked on a door and a friendly middle aged man answered, expressing surprise that we were offering such a beautiful gift. From his accent, we thought him to be Russian. Not too many words were exchanged. We explained that the New Covenant was a fulfillment and continuation of the Tanach. This man accepted the set while giving us a great big smile, which made us smile as well.
Have you ever seen how many variations of fish there are in the sea? Multi-striped, pinwheel designed, multi-colored and all sizes and shapes. Likewise it is amazing how many different, designs, colors, sizes and variations of Mezuzahs we see on doorposts. We are happy to see each one of them because they invite us to the challenge and we respond, regardless of the outcome of the visit. And though every door looks the same from the outside, there is always a heightened expectation and hope each time we knock. And things can be so different from week to week. Some evenings, like last week, we had a few nice discussions with people, yet this night was totally different (Passover so soon?) with few words and yet glad acceptance of the precious Word of God.
At another door on the eighth floor, a woman was just having dinner with a friend, so it did not seem to be the right moment. After listening to the offer, the only thing she said was, “It is not relevant to me” and quietly closed the door.
At the next door we were met by a lady with her three children. She accepted the gift as a blessing.
On to the 7th floor…The next door was opened by a lady who whispered to Danielle, since she was the closest to her. In turn, we lowered our voices, too. Danielle quietly shared that she had a blessing and gift for her from Almighty God. She wanted to accept the set, and asked what she should pay. Danielle answered that we receive them for free and also give them away for free. She was glad to receive a set, and was especially happy that the Scriptures were in Hebrew since she speaks the language. After such a visit, we wanted to shout, but kept our hearts quietly content.
And then the 6th floor… On the 6th floor, we heard the voices of children after we knocked. When the door opened, the entire family was there to meet us: A tall father, mother and three children between 7 to 13 years old. This family was also from Israel. They were surprised by this beautiful gift set. The mother seemed especially pleased and offered to pay for it, but we stressed that this was a free gift. They spoke in Hebrew to each other, thanked us and then the little boy said, “Laila tov” (Good night), so we wished them the same thing, along with a heartfelt “shalom”.
Still on the 6th and barking up the right alley…While we were knocking at one door, just across the hall a small dog ventured out of another apartment with the owner not too far behind, making sure we were not afraid of his little canine. “Not at all”, we answered. The little dog was dressed up in a well fitted cute little coat and was ready for a walk outside. We noticed that the man’s door (the one with the dog) did not have a Mezuzah. Danielle asked him: “Are you Jewish?” to which he answered that indeed he was. Danielle offered him a set which she had in her hand, but he responded by saying he was not going to read it because he did not have time. Danielle asked him whether he could read Hebrew, and he said he could.
Just then, another man came out of the same apartment. Because the first man did not seem to be too interested in the set, Danielle offered the gift to the second gentleman, and after listening to what it was all about, he said he would be happy to take the set. Then the first man let us know that he would like to have a set after all. At this point we only had one set left in English and one in French. But God’s mercy and generosity made sure there was enough for everyone. The second gentleman could read French and preferred the French set anyway, so the first man ended up with the English set. Benefits and blessings come from living in a bilingual country. Both were very pleased, and so were we as this was the last of 8 sets we brought with us that evening, (7 full sets and one Tanach given out!!)
Next week, God willing, we have 5 more floors where we hope to “Knock and Talk” in this particular apartment building. When we left the building, Danielle shared that in all the years that she has been doing this ministry, there had never been an evening without giving out at least ONE SET. Awesome!
Once again the evening was a blessing, and all honor, glory and thanksgiving go to Yeshua Ha Mashiach. We pray that the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) will work in the hearts of all the people we met.
Regards and shalom,