In 1973, Michael was a 16-year-old Messianic Jew. He’d been following Jesus for one year when the Hebrew Club at his Brooklyn high school hosted a seminar on why Jesus was not the Messiah.
Michael determined to defend Jesus at the seminar. The Hebrew Club brought in a hotshot young Rabbinical scholar who spoke for 45 minutes to a room packed full of Jewish high school students. The speaker’s presentation was clear and compelling, and then he opened the floor for questions.
Up shot Michael with his Bible. Quoting one Messianic prophesy after another, Michael tried to persuade the speaker (and all the students) that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. However, the speaker was skillful, quick, and funny, and for each of Michael’s passages, he had a smooth explanation. Sweating and frustrated, Michael eventually had to sit down as the meeting ended, and he went home tasting failure. “My worst failure ever,” is how he saw it.
He felt that failure for years, as if he had let Jesus down, along with all those students who needed to meet the Messiah.
Fast-forward 32 years. The young hotshot became a nationally syndicated radio and TV talk show host, and Michael became an author, speaker, and professor. One day, as he was giving a lecture in Southern California, an older Jewish man came up to chat with him. The man talked of Jesus with a thick Brooklyn accent, so Michael asked where he was from.
Can you guess where this is going? The man had been a teacher at Michael’s high school, had attended the Hebrew Club meeting, had heard this sixteen-year-old kid reading biblical passages about the Messiah, and had bought a Bible so he could read them for himself. While reading, he came to Christ.
Our students are young. They have more zeal than experience — but so what? That man found Christ on account of Michael’s “worst failure ever.” The best thing we can do for our students is encourage them to follow their passion for God. Because those seeds always bear fruit.