Rood Missionary Update

By Sam Rood | April 7, 2020

For the past two and a half weeks COVID-19 has forced all of us to drastically alter the way we live our lives. Here in New York City, we are in the virus’s epicenter in the United States. It’s a sobering time as bustling urban life grinds to a halt, infections spread rapidly and hospitals overflow. However, as followers of Jesus, we know that times like this are spiritually significant times when God disrupts our constant attempts to ignore or deny His presence. For some, this is a time to consider spiritual realities they’ve never considered before or have been avoiding. I am struck that this will be the first time since the original Passover where every Jewish family will be forced to observe the feast confined to our own homes. The parallels between that event and our current one hasn’t been lost on many Jewish people. I want to tell you about two Jewish people I’ve witnessed to for years who I’ve seen make spiritual progress toward Jesus in the wake of COVID-19.

“Rueben,” grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect called Chabad but was an atheist when I met him a few years ago. About two months ago I gave him a New Testament (I think it was the second one I gave him). Afterward I didn’t hear back from him. A few days before the city went on lockdown, I texted Rueben and he gave me a call — he’d been reading the New Testament! He told me “Since my community lied to me about so much, they’re probably lying about Jesus as well.” Rueben is just beginning to wrestle with Jesus’ Messianic and divine claims and is doubtful that the New Testament is the word of God. However, he has started to seek a relationship with God.

“Ezekiel” is a college professor I’ve been meeting with for over two years studying the Gospel of John chapter by chapter. Though he’s found Jesus very interesting, it’s been hard to move the conversation beyond Ezekiel’s intellectual doubts. Last week, during our study of John 16 over Zoom, Ezekiel asked about “The Comforter” which led to a discussion of the Trinity. Ezekiel said that it makes sense to him. When I noted that that’s surprising Ezekiel said, “Maybe the Holy Spirit is helping me.” I assumed he was joking but he said that “faith is mixed with doubt, love mixed with ambivalence, belief with questions.” It was the first time I’ve heard him acknowledge any amount of faith in Jesus.

Please keep “Rueben,” “Ezekiel” and the whole Jewish community in prayer. COVID-19 has been particularly widespread in ultra-Orthodox communities, both in the U.S. and Israel. Many holocaust survivors and rabbis have already died. In addition, this has led to an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment as people are blaming Jewish people for the viruses spread. Pray that as Jewish people prepare to observe Passover they would recognize our Redeemer — Jesus the true Passover Lamb.

By Sam Rood

Sam Rood grew up at Fullerton Free and was a Core Group Leader for several years. He and his wife Rebekah serve with Jews for Jesus in New York City.