Then I Met Messiah: Ceil Rosen’s Story
Then I Met Messiah: Ceil Rosen's Story
Then I Met Messiah: Ceil Rosen's Story
It was New Year’s Eve, 1951. As I reached for a drinking glass in the shelf-lined pantry of our cold-water flat, I glanced out of the tiny window at the midnight sky. The light of one star in the southwest dazzled me with its brilliance. It beamed bigger and brighter than any star I had ever seen, and I thought, Maybe the Christmas star over Bethlehem looked like that.” Then I realized that I, a Jew, halfway believed something I had always been taught was untrue.
My twin brother and I were born prematurely to Jewish parents in Boston, Massachusetts. We each weighed less than three pounds and spent our early weeks in incubators. In those days of lesser technology, it was truly a miracle that we survived. Our mother died when we were less than a year old. Our father was so deeply affected by this loss that he suffered a nervous breakdown. He was also epileptic and burdened with the sole support of his aged parents. Unable physically, emotionally or financially to care for two infants, he placed us in foster homes. A couple of years later, my father got back on his feet and remarried. He took my brother out of foster care, but I remained with the Orthodox Jewish immigrant couple from Eastern Europe who had taken me.
My father had intended it to be a temporary arrangement, but before they had taken me, they had pressured him into signing legal documents. I was not well. My father was emotionally distraught and afraid I would die if I didn’t get proper care, so he had signed. Later, he discovered that he had signed adoption papers. He deeply regretted this but didn’t fight to regain custody because he felt it was in my best interest not to disrupt my life. He was a religious man and firmly believed that it was all bashert (meant to be). He had great faith that some day, somehow, we would be reunited.
My adoptive parents were very religious, and at home we spoke only Yiddish. They used to tell me about Old Testament heroes like Abraham and Moses and David. Sometimes they were from the Bible, and other times they were legends. I often heard stories about the coming of Moshiach, the Messiah. They told me, “One day he will come, riding on a white horse. All the dead will come alive, and we will all sit at a long table in heaven and eat Leviathan, a special sea creature God is preparing just for that purpose.” My parents also made up stories to teach me about Orthodox Judaism. These were usually about a Jewish child faced with some dilemma about observing the Jewish religion and how he or she solved the problem.
When I was very small, I used to pray in my own words whenever I felt lonely or frightened. Once, when I was about four, I prayed that God would restore a cherished balloon that had popped. When, of course, it didn’t happen, I was not disillusioned. I retained my childlike faith in a God who could do anything He chose to do.
Soon after that, my parents taught me some prayers to recite in Hebrew. Though I didn’t understand what I was saying, I dutifully repeated them every morning and evening. That was a turning point. Prayer became a duty for me instead of a way to connect with God, and I no longer prayed in my own words.
When I turned six, I went to Hebrew school every day after public school. We learned to read and write Hebrew and studied vocabulary and grammar. After we mastered the Hebrew primer, the Old Testament became our textbook. We memorized vocabulary pertinent to the text we were studying and laboriously translated the Torah (Pentateuch) and later the historical books. In all of this, nothing was ever mentioned about those Scriptures to provide spiritual comfort or understanding. We knew that our Jewish Bible (the Tenach) included the poetic books and the prophetic writings, but we never studied these in Hebrew school. They were chanted so rapidly in Hebrew during synagogue services that very few adults could understand them. (Later, upon graduating from Hebrew school, I received an English translation of the Old Testament. Then I did read some of the Psalms and Proverbs, but never the prophets. I thought they were irrelevant and too hard to understand, even in English.) On Sunday mornings I attended an additional Sunday school hour when we studied Jewish history and tradition and held our own abridged version of a synagogue service using the siddur, the Jewish prayer book.
At home, my mother strictly kept the kosher dietary laws. Before cooking our meat, we salted and soaked it until it was free of blood. We never ate pork or shellfish. We used separate dishes for meat and dairy foods. We even washed them with separate bars of kosher soap and dried them with separate dish towels. The soap and the towels were color-coded — red for meat and blue for dairy foods. At Passover, we set aside our regular dishes and brought out others to be used only during that one week of the year.
We observed the Sabbath and all of the Jewish holidays. On Friday evenings at sundown, my mother lit Sabbath candles and we had a Shabbat meal. Before we ate, my father always recited the kiddush, the blessing over a cup of sweet concord grape wine, and the motzi, a prayer over the braided Sabbath egg bread. We never put out the candles. They had to burn down by themselves. Sometimes, as I gazed at them, I felt a mystical awe, as though the flickering flames embodied some special holiness. I experienced a similar feeling in synagogue whenever I looked at the ark where the Torah scrolls were stored. When they drew aside the velvet curtain to bring out the Torah, I always squeezed my eyes shut, not daring to look inside. I thought that God was there, and I sensed that I must not see His holiness or something terrible would happen.
Our Jewish neighborhood lay next to the Irish and Italian part of town. Between us and the public library I loved to frequent were several Catholic churches. They seemed mysterious as I passed them. Crosses, especially crucifixes, always made me uncomfortable. It was not so much that I, a Jewish girl, was to have nothing to do with the Gentile religion or its God. The sight of Jesus almost naked, in obvious agony and shame, both embarrassed and saddened me. I felt that if I looked at Him, somehow it would add to His suffering and shame, so I tried not to see those crucifixes or think about Him very much.
Anyhow, I had plenty of other things to deal with in just trying to be a good Jew. It was a total lifestyle. We had many other rules besides the kosher laws. From sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, I was not to use a pen, pencil, crayons, scissors or needle and thread. Nor, had I been so inclined, would I have been allowed to use a knife, hammer or saw. Curiously, however, our family did use the electric lights on the Sabbath. We also cooked, rode public transportation (we had no car) and went shopping. I knew that some Jewish people who were more Orthodox than us did none of those things. I also noticed that others less Orthodox than my family did not observe as many rules as we did.
As I grew older, those discrepancies confused me. First I wondered why my family observed only some regulations and not others. Then I wondered if it really mattered. Other Jews got away with doing less. Were all those laws really ordained of God? If they were, shouldn’t all of us Jews keep all of them? If not, why keep any? At that time God was not very important to me. I didn’t think that He loved me, and I saw no reason to love Him. At best, I considered Him an authoritative being who exacted a heavy toll from us Jews for the privilege of being His chosen people.
At the age of twelve, I graduated from six years of Hebrew school, and I began to act on my rebellious thoughts. I tried nonkosher food and enjoyed it. Not struck by lightning from heaven nor even a stomachache, I began to wonder if God existed at all. And if He did, what did He care about my keeping any of the ancient Jewish Law in a modern world that made it so inconvenient?
When I was thirteen, my adoptive mother developed bronchial asthma. The summer after my fourteenth birthday, we moved to the drier climate of Denver, Colorado, for her health. There we immediately sought out the west side, the less expensive of the two Jewish parts of town, and settled in.
The summer I was fifteen, Martin Rosen, a lanky neighborhood boy, knocked on our door. He had a summer job selling fluorescent house numbers and light pulls. More out of kindness than need, my mother ordered two light pulls. When he brought them a few days later, he used the occasion to invite me on a date. That began a teenage romance that eventually would blossom into marriage.
We discussed many things, but religion was rarely one of them. Martin, or Moishe as he later preferred to be called, had his ideas about religion and, rebellious as I was, I had mine. His family was only nominally Orthodox, but he was proud of his Jewish heritage and wanted to keep certain ties and traditions. I, on the other hand, was struggling against a very strict upbringing. I wanted to be my own person, which at that point meant being as nonobservant as possible while still maintaining my Jewish identity.
My childlike faith in God was long gone, and now I felt ready to deny Him entirely. It was simple. If I no longer believed in God, I would not be accountable to Him and life would be much easier. Outside of my home, at least, I would be free from religious restrictions I found hard to keep. I went from agnosticism to atheism and vehemently declared that there was no God. Yet even as the words left my mouth, deep inside I was not so sure. Nevertheless, I began repeating that thought to others — perhaps as much to convince myself as my listeners.
The winter I was sixteen, my high school chorus had a major role in our school’s Christmas program. In grade school, I had always felt drawn to Christmas carols, but my parents would never allow me to participate in Christmas programs. Now, having taken the music class, I had to sing in the concert or fail the entire semester. I concocted a half-truth for having to be at school that evening, smuggled my costume out of the house and went off to the Christmas program. Dressed in long skirts and head scarves to approximate biblical garb, we moved across the stage in a kind of slow dance, singing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” Though we had rehearsed those words many times, I suddenly found myself pondering their meaning. Was there something true about Jesus being for us Jews? Yet what did it really matter? I didn’t even believe in my own Jewish God, so why should I believe in Jesus, the Gentile God?
The following year, I graduated from high school and found a secretarial job at a downtown law office. I continued to live at home and saw Moishe as often as possible — almost every night and weekends unless he was at work. One evening he didn’t show up. We had no phone and it was too late to walk to his house and disturb his family, so I lay awake and worried most of the night. The next day Moishe came by and apologized. He explained that he had met a young Gentile fellow named Orville at the streetcar stop after work. They had conversed until the wee hours of the morning, much too late for Moishe to stop by and see me. I didn’t ask, and he never said what he and Orville had discussed for so long.
In subsequent weeks I met Orville and his wife, Juanita. They were a couple of years older than us and lived very close by. Red-haired, bespectacled Orville had a wide, boyish grin. He and his wife Juanita lived with his grandmother, his preacher father and a brother. Dark-eyed, soft-spoken Juanita looked fragile to me, probably because she wore simple clothing and no makeup. Without ever being told, I sensed that these people were “religious.” I watched my language around them and never mentioned my atheistic views.
At eighteen, Moishe and I were married. We had a traditional ceremony at an Orthodox synagogue in West Denver. Moishe promised to take me as his wife according to the Law of Moses, and I didn’t say anything. I just stood there under the velvet chuppah and smiled. I was not required to say anything. Of course, neither of us expected to observe the Law of Moses in our new home. That was just part of the ceremony. Tradition was fine if we didn’t take it too seriously. We would not be entangled in Orthodox rules and regulations. We would just be modern American Jews without any hang-ups about religion.
Early in our marriage, in 1950, the Korean War broke out. Expecting that Moishe would be drafted, we decided to start a family. If Moishe had to be away, the child would be company for me, and if I couldn’t manage alone, I could always move in with my in-laws, who were always kind and supportive. To our happy surprise, however, my pregnancy earned Moishe a draft deferment.
Now I was content and happy. I felt a real sense of freedom to be whoever and whatever I wanted. Then something odd happened. With the pressure of having to be religious gone, I felt free to examine my real beliefs. For the first time in many years, I could admit to myself that I really did believe in God. I would not necessarily embrace Orthodox Judaism again, but I could begin by acknowledging God. For the first time since I was a small child, I prayed in my own words. I asked God’s forgiveness for having said He didn’t exist, and I thanked Him for His many blessings. I also prayed for the well-being of our unborn child.
Soon our first daughter, Lyn, was born. Life was really good. We lived within walking distance of both of our families and never lacked for a baby-sitter. Lyn was the first grandchild in both families, and they vied for the privilege. We usually had Sabbath dinner at Moishe’s parents’ home on Friday evenings and deli lunch with them every Sunday afternoon. We spent less time with my family, but they saw the baby regularly, taking her to their house for hours at a time or for walks in the beautiful British-style pram they bought her.
Shortly after Lyn’s birth, Moishe bought me a record player and some records. The albums contained orchestral arrangements of semi-classical works we both enjoyed and some songs by Mario Lanzo, a very popular tenor. Among those Mario Lanzo vocals was an album of Christmas carols. Home with a newborn much of the time, I spent many hours listening to these records.
One day about a week before Christmas, I put on the Christmas album. Suddenly the words of “Little Town of Bethlehem” struck me as they never had before. I wondered. What did it mean, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”? Did the hopes refer to the messianic hope? But who would fear the coming of our longed-awaited Messiah, and why? The Gentiles said that Jesus was the Messiah. Did we Jews feel threatened by their beliefs? Were we afraid to think about Jesus in those terms because it might be true? Was that why I was never allowed to mention His name at home, and why, whenever the beautiful church music that drew me came on over the radio, my parents would quickly turn the dial to another station? Was Jesus the Everlasting Light the song mentioned? I listened to another song, “We Three Kings,” and thought about the miraculous star they said led the wise men to the newborn Christ child. I had grown up hearing those carols in school. I had even secretly enjoyed singing them except for the awkward parts that called Him Lord. Now, for the first time, I was considering those songs in a new way and wondering if their message might be true. I felt I must ask God about that.
I prayed, “God, is there anything to what the Christians are saying about this Jesus? Should I believe in Him? I’m ready to do what You want now, even if it means going back to the strict rules I have been avoiding. I’m ready to light Sabbath candles, keep kosher, observe all the laws and be an Orthodox Jew again if that’s what You want. But please show me. Do You want that, or do You want me to believe what the Christians say about Jesus?”
As I finished praying, the baby awoke. Busy with attending to her needs, I forgot all about my prayer. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, Moishe and I had just returned from a wedding reception when I went into the pantry for a glass. That was when I glanced out of the window and saw the star. From that moment, a hunger began to grow in me to read the New Testament. I knew it told all about Jesus, and I had to find out who He was!
But dare I have a Gentile Bible in my house? What would my husband think? What would my parents say? They lived close by. If they walked in and saw that telltale black cover with its gilt lettering, they would be very angry. My mother was quite adept at verbal abuse when angered. Preferring to avoid potential unpleasantness, I waited a long time before I gave in to my growing desire for a Bible.
Finally the following summer, many months later, I gained the courage to act. At that, my courage was small. I asked Moishe’s cousin Dorothy to get a Bible for me. Dorothy was my friend and I could count on her to be discreet. She worked downtown where I knew she could buy an inexpensive Bible without being noticed or questioned. I said, “Be sure you get a whole Bible. You know — both the Old and the New Testament — but don’t tell anyone!” She raised an eyebrow at me, but didn’t ask questions.
A couple of days later, Dorothy came to my door after work and handed me a brown paper bag. Inside was an Authorized King James Version of the Bible on cheap newsprint. It had cost a mere sixty-nine cents in the ten-cent store, but to me it was precious. I paid Dorothy and chatted politely for a few minutes, but I could hardly wait for her to leave so I could begin reading.
Quickly I flipped past the parts I already knew from Hebrew school: the Pentateuch and historical books, the somewhat less familiar Psalms and Proverbs, and finally the Hebrew prophets whose names I vaguely recognized. At last I came to the New Testament portion. Now I would find out who Jesus really was!
Eagerly I began reading Matthew 1:1: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” What’s wrong with that? I thought. Why don’t we Jews believe in Jesus? He’s Jewish!
I read avidly until it was time to cook dinner. Then I hid the Bible in a desk drawer where I hoped it would not be seen. Every day after that, whenever I had a few moments alone, I took out that Bible and read it. The more I read, the more I saw that this was a Jewish book about a Jewish person who claimed to be our Messiah. I reasoned, “If the Old Testament is true as I have been taught from childhood, then the New Testament is also true. It’s all one book!” The more I read, the more I felt drawn to Jesus and to the things He said. It all made such perfect sense to me. I just knew that He was real. I loved Him, but I was afraid. My parents, my friends, even my husband would probably not tolerate what I was thinking. They would be furious. Dared I pursue this thing?
Then I came to Matthew 10:37 and read: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” I remembered that I had prayed for God to show me the truth, and I knew right then that I had to accept what I felt He was showing me, regardless of the cost. I finished the four Gospels and started the first chapter of Acts. When I read about Jesus being taken up into heaven, I was disappointed. My heart cried out, “Come back! I want to read more about You!” I went back and reread the Gospels.
With my new knowledge of this wonderful Person there came a growing excitement I could barely hide. Occasionally when I could no longer contain myself, I would blurt out to Moishe or Dorothy, “I just found out that the Lord’s prayer my class used to recite every day in grade school came from the New Testament,” or “Guess what? I never knew that the term salt of the earth came from something that Jesus said, did you?” At first, my revelations provoked nothing more than a quizzical look or an uncaring shrug. Why get excited? What did it matter anyhow? Moishe and Dorothy were the only two people to whom I dared admit that I had even read part of the New Testament, let alone believed it. They figured my interest would pass, but it didn’t.
Autumn came, and with it my growing need to discuss Jesus with someone, but with whom? Suddenly I remembered Orville and Juanita and their preacher father. Busy with our new baby and family life, we had not seen them for a long time. When I casually mentioned them to my husband, he said they had recently moved to Gallup, New Mexico. I was crestfallen. Now there was no one I could tell about my growing belief in Jesus, no one to whom I could go for answers to my many questions.
I prayed. “Oh, God, please help me find someone to talk to about Jesus.” Then, as with my New Year’s Eve prayer, I got busy with my responsibilities as a homemaker and new mother and forgot what I had prayed.
I forgot, but God didn’t, and He answered me in an unmistakable way. One blustery February afternoon, a middle-aged Gentile woman trudged up the snow-covered wooden steps to our flat and rang the doorbell. Her name was Hannah Wago, and she was a missionary to Jewish people. Orville and Juanita Freestone had written and asked her to visit Moishe and me! I didn’t know it then, but they and their family had been praying for Moishe for three or four years, ever since Orville had first talked to him about Jesus at the streetcar stop! One day while the Freestones were praying in New Mexico, God showed them that it was time to ask their Denver missionary friend to visit the Rosens.
Mrs. Wago braved ice and snow that day to travel across town by streetcar. Now there she was in my living room with a chain reference version of my cheap Bible. She also had numerous pamphlets written for Jewish inquirers that answered many of my questions and some I hadn’t even thought of! Suddenly I remembered my prayer and, overcome by this amazing answer, I retreated to the pantry where I had seen the star to wipe away my tears. I didn’t want a total stranger to see me crying.
Mrs. Wago patiently began teaching me from the Scriptures. She brought a chart that helped me understand that all of humanity was sinful and separated from God because Adam, the first man, had sinned. It explained about Moses and the Hebrew prophets who had talked about the Messiah. It described from the Book of Daniel the time that must pass before Messiah would come and how Jesus had fulfilled all prophecy when He died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. She showed me many passages in the Old Testament that confirmed what I had already begun to believe about Jesus. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she showed me the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. It was such a perfect description of the suffering Messiah, and it had to be about Jesus. She showed me the second Psalm and Proverbs 30 that spoke of God having a son. I wondered. Why, during all those years of attending Hebrew school, had I never been told those passages existed?
When Mrs. Wago first taught me from the New Testament about the rapture of the Church, that did stretch my credulity a bit. I thought it far-fetched that people could rise up in the air and be changed, but I decided to reserve judgment on that until I knew more. As I began to trust the Bible more and more for answers, I finally decided that if the Bible said so, it must be true. My faith grew stronger all the time as I soaked up everything Mrs. Wago taught me.
Moishe knew I was studying the New Testament. At first, he had said, “It’s fine if you want to believe all of that. Just don’t tell anyone.” Then as I tried to get him to believe, too, and kept giving him the tracts Mrs. Wago brought, he grew increasingly negative and resistant. Finally, he said that he would rather Mrs. Wago did not come to our house anymore. That was fine, I thought. The weather was bad anyhow, and we could just continue our lessons over the telephone.
One day during our telephone Bible study, Moishe tried to call home from work and the line was busy for a very long time. He knew I was talking to Mrs. Wago. Infuriated, he left work, marched into the house and ripped the phone out of the wall! I was embarrassed the next day to explain to the repair person what had happened, but he fixed it without comment. After that, Mrs. Wago and I continued our Bible studies over the telephone, but we kept them shorter.
Moishe became increasingly unhappy about my growing religious fervor. At one point, he confronted me about my beliefs and stated what I already knew. If our families and friends found out, they would disown and disinherit us. We would be ostracized from the Jewish community. He might even lose his job at the Jewish-owned sporting goods store. I said, “I asked God to show me what was true, and He did. I can’t deny what He showed me. If I have to choose between you and God, I must choose God. Please, don’t make me choose!” Moishe realized how serious I was and dropped the matter.
During Holy Week that year (1953), the Denver Post ran excerpts from Fulton Oursler’s Greatest Story Ever Told. Still hungry for anything about Jesus, I devoured that column every day. I knew that the book was fiction, but it was based on Scripture and made Jesus and Calvary more real to me. On Good Friday I boarded a bus to visit a friend. As I thought of what this day commemorated, I felt sad and very personally involved. I thought of Jesus dying on that cross for me and for everyone on that bus if they would only accept it. Yet along with my sadness, I felt a strange kind of overwhelming love for all those people. I couldn’t have explained it then because I didn’t know enough Scripture yet, but it was the love of God planted in my heart by His Holy Spirit.
I had come full circle. The freedom from religion that I had pursued in my teens had merely engendered rebellion and alienation from God. Now, finding Christ as my Messiah and sin-bearer brought me true joy and the realization that I was in God’s hand. Filled with love for Him, I wanted to obey Him in whatever way He might ask.
Two days later, on Easter Sunday, I went to church. I had received special permission from my husband. It was to be a one-time thing, and I was to leave the house inconspicuously so the neighbors wouldn’t know that I was going to church. In those days, women wore hats to church, so if anyone in our Jewish neighborhood saw me wearing a hat on Sunday morning, they would know where I was going. When my ride came, I ran to the car with my hat in a paper bag and put it on later after we left the Jewish neighborhood.
Mrs. Wago had explained to me about asking God for forgiveness for sin. She said I needed to make a commitment to Jesus because He had taken the punishment I deserved by dying as my sacrifice. She had also described how people confessed that commitment in church. When after the sermon the minister invited people to come forward and publicly confess Jesus, I went. The whole congregation rejoiced with me, and many undertook to pray with me for my husband Moishe to come to faith.
For weeks after that, I prayed hard for Moishe every day. I would often stand at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, praying and crying. During that time, I didn’t discuss Jesus with Moishe any more. I sensed that if I did, he would get very angry again.
One day, however, I deliberately left a little booklet about heaven lying on a table. Moishe picked it up, read it and caught himself thinking, “Heaven isn’t like that author says!” With that, he realized that he did have ideas of what heaven was like and that he really did believe what the Bible said about everything — even the Jesus part. Years before, he had heard from Orville much of what I was saying, but he had dismissed it because he didn’t want to pay the cost of being labeled an apostate. Now he realized that he could no longer fight against what he knew in his heart was true.
That night, in bed, he turned to me and said, “I believe all this stuff that you believe about Jesus. What do I do now?” Hardly able to believe my ears, I said, “You’re supposed to tell God that you know you are a sinner and need the forgiveness Jesus provided by dying on the cross. Then you’re supposed to go forward in church and give your life to Jesus and get baptized.” Moishe said, “Tomorrow is Sunday. Let’s go to that church you went to!”
The next morning we went to church. It was Pentecost Sunday, six weeks after I had publicly confessed Christ. At the end of the service, Moishe walked down that same aisle. Now we were united in our faith. We began regular attendance at that church, and in July of that year, we were both baptized.
Moishe tried to tell his family about our new belief in Christ, and they were predictably upset. I was afraid to tell mine, but the news leaked out. One day, my mother grim-facedly confronted me with, “I hear you’ve become a goy [a Gentile].” I tried to explain, “No, Ma, I’m still Jewish, I just believe that the New Testament is true and that Jesus is our Messiah.” She wouldn’t discuss it and turned me over to my father. He insisted that we visit a rabbi. I said we would, but I knew that he would never dissuade us from our faith.
The rabbi asked us what we believed, and we told him. I quoted Isaiah 7:14 about the Virgin Birth and Isaiah 53:6 about the Messiah taking all our sins on Himself, and Jeremiah 31:31 about God establishing a New Covenant. When I finished, the rabbi said, “I can’t discuss these things with you today because I have just moved here, and my commentaries have not yet arrived. You’ll have to come back another time.” My father seemed particularly disappointed in not hearing an explanation for Isaiah 53. He wanted us to go to the rabbi again, but we said that we’d rather not. If the rabbi didn’t know what he believed without his commentaries, he had nothing meaningful to tell us.
My family said that if we wouldn’t go back to the rabbi, we were never to come to their house or talk to them again. We took them at their word, and they never contacted us again. Shortly after the rabbi incident, they disappeared from the neighborhood, and we heard later that they had moved to Israel.
For about a year, Moishe’s family would barely speak to us either. During that period, our only connection with his parents was our baby girl. My brother-in-law would pick Lyn up and take her to visit her grandparents. She would spend Friday night and sometimes most of Saturday with them. Then he would bring her home, often with a new dress, new shoes or a toy. Eventually Moishe’s parents asked to see us again. We began to visit them on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons, but the relationship was always a bit strained because we were strictly admonished never to mention Jesus in their home.
After a year or so, Moishe began to feel a burden that others be told about Jesus. One day as he was praying, God said, “You’re asking Me to send someone. I want you to go.” We left Denver and moved to Essex Fells, New Jersey, where he enrolled in Northeast Bible College.
As soon as I knew we would be going east, I wrote to my birth family. (Moishe had encouraged me to keep in touch with them after we were married.) I explained that my adoptive parents had disowned us because we had become believers in Jesus. I wrote, “If you don’t want to hear from us either because of what we believe, we will understand. But if you want to see us, we can come up to Boston some time.” They answered immediately that they didn’t care what we believed. They would be delighted to see us. My father had prayed for so many years that he and I would be reunited!
One day a couple of months later, the three of us knocked at my father’s door in Dorchester, Massachusetts. It was Halloween time, and I had dressed our three-year-old Lyn in a red riding hood costume. When my stepmother opened the door, Lyn smiled up disarmingly and said, “Hi, I’m Little Red Riding Hood, and I’ve come to visit my grandma!”
She won everyone’s hearts immediately. The whole family welcomed us with open arms, and it was the beginning of a wonderful reunion. I gave up the family who had raised me for God’s sake, but He replaced it with another. I became better acquainted with my twin brother and my half-brothers, and I enjoyed a wonderful new relationship with my stepmother as well as with my natural father.
For seventeen years after that reunion, we prayed for my family to be saved. In the summer of 1967 my birth father gave his heart to Jesus. He died a few years later, but I know that I will see him again in heaven.
It all worked out. It was all in God’s plan. Like my father, I know it was all bashert. God had a reason for my being separated from my natural family, and He was patient through my temporary rebellion. He had to mold me through circumstances and environment into a person who would have the curiosity and the courage to go against the tide of Jewish tradition and give my life to my Messiah. He had to bring me from Boston to Denver to meet my future husband—the man I would one day lead to Christ and who would become a leader in the field of Jewish evangelism.