A well-dressed woman in her fifties walked into our Friday night chapel service in New York City. She locked eyes with David Brickner. There was a mutual recognition, but David did not immediately recall when or where they had met. After the service, Ruth reminded him of the occasion. Seven months earlier, during our 1995 Summer Witnessing Campaign, she had been enraged to see him handing out tracts. Actually, the Jews for Jesus T-shirt had set her off. She was beside herself with anger and accused David of trying to complete the work that Hitler had begun. She was a survivor of Auschwitz, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps.
Yet here she was, at our Friday night chapel service. I have an open mind,” she confided. Perhaps releasing all that anger had left room for something else to occupy her thoughts. For whatever reason, Ruth continued to come to Friday night services, week after week. Sometimes after the services, our missionaries would find her weeping, not in sadness but with the joy of having sensed the touch of God on her life. One of our missionaries, Lev Leigh, began meeting with Ruth, patiently explaining the gospel to her.
Ruth found herself drawn to Jesus but was concerned about what her friends and family would think of her growing interest. She began to test the waters with a young rabbi on Manhattan’s Upper West Side whom she admires. When she asked what he thought about Jesus, she was shocked at his angry response. “You are crazy to even think about that,” he told her.
Despite his anger, Ruth could not deny the reality of the God of Israel whose touch she had felt at the Friday night chapel service. She could not deny the truth of what she heard. Now that the gospel had been explained to her, it did make sense. And so despite all of the taboos of her life experience and teaching, she confessed her sin and trusted in Jesus for forgiveness.
Ruth has continued to faithfully attend the services as well as our Tuesday night Bible study, and her daughter has been coming as well. Ruth considers herself a believer, but she still struggles with some key doctrinal issues and needs prayer to be firmly rooted in the faith. Her daughter has expressed openness to the gospel, so please pray for her as well.
Those who suffered through the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp and lived to tell about it are often referred to as survivors. Through Jesus, people like Ruth can be more than survivors—they can be raised to a newness of life in Him!