Thanksgiving is approaching and I have been meditating on Jesus’ words: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).
Jesus told His disciples that He is the true Vine. Just as He did with the twelve, He calls us today to abide in Him as branches that will bear a special kind of fruit: fruit that will remain. This life-transforming harvest is unlike any other, because the fruit is not ours, but God’s. It’s fruit that is—well, supernatural. It comes only as God works through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Our role is to remain in Jesus. Our purpose is to bear fruit for His kingdom that will stand the test of time, fruit that will bear more fruit, fruit that will proclaim Him as the promised Messiah.
This important passage of Scripture reminds me of God’s calling for Jews for Jesus: to relentlessly pursue His plan for the salvation of Israel. We do so with the conviction that He will bring a harvest of believers who will walk with Him and serve Him for a lifetime, and beyond. Over the years we’ve seen thousands of lives transformed by His love, grace and salvation for—literally—eternity. Let me tell you the story of one such life. Avi Snyder grew up in a traditional Jewish home in New York and New Jersey. His family went to synagogue on holy days and kept kosher. Being Jewish was central to his identity. And yet, he says, by his early 20s, “If you asked me whether I believed in God, I would have identified myself as an atheist.”
In retrospect, he explains, “I wasn’t really an atheist; I was just angry with God because of the Holocaust, and because of a philosophy I’d taken up.”
Avi began working in professional theater in New York at age nine. From then on, he says, he never stopped working, either on Broadway or off Broadway. One day he ran into a Jews for Jesus guy on the streets. “I was livid,” he says. Turning to the friend he was with he said, “Tell him you can’t be a Jew and believe in Jesus.” His friend replied, “Tell him yourself.”
Avi took the pamphlet, written by Susan Perlman, and read it. Then God brought into his life a family of caring Christians who weren’t put off by his argumentativeness when it came to the Gospel. He loved having discussions with them. Whereas he once would have held the message at arm’s length simply because he was Jewish, having received Susan’s pamphlet, he could no longer deny that there were Jews who believed in Jesus.
After three months, on March 14, 1977, Avi says:
“I knew that what I’d learned about Jesus was true. And if Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then as a Jew I had to deal with that. It was the most Jewish thing I could do. That day I told Jesus that I was sorry for denying Him and for harboring such hostility in my heart toward Him.”
God heard that prayer and forgave Avi. Now instead of anger Avi has answers; instead of pointlessness there is purpose. After being discipled and trained by Jews for Jesus, Avi has pioneered our ministry in Ukraine, Russia, Germany and Hungary. He now serves as our European Director. Countless other Jewish people have become connected to the true Vine because Avi became a follower of Jesus and brought forth fruit that remains.
During our relatively short time on this Earth, we’re all tasked with being productive, with recognising that the fields are ripe and ready for harvest. You don’t have to be a full-time missionary to be fruitful, to be used by God in bringing in His harvest.
None of us should ever underestimate the value of fruit that remains and what our connection to the one true Vine will produce. You may never see the extent of the impact that you (or any other individual) have for the kingdom of God. Can you name the person who led Billy Sunday to Christ? Who led D.L. Moody to Christ? Who is the person who led Hudson Taylor to Christ? Or Billy Graham or Moishe Rosen?
Who led you to Christ? Did they understand the value that God placed on your life and how you would impact so many others? Each life we touch for God’s purposes, each one that is transformed by His power, will serve Messiah in paths we cannot plan or predict. And as they do, they’ll multiply the impact of our labours—and the kingdom—together in amazing ways.
When you pray for and support Jews for Jesus, you participate in countless connections for God’s kingdom. I can only imagine the other ways that God is making you fruitful as you abide in Him. I’m thankful as I ponder the unique roles He’s given to each of us. May He give us a bountiful harvest this month and in the months to come.