In loving memory of Moishe Rosen, born April 12, 1932, and received into the eternal presence of his Lord, May 19, 2010.
Yes, God does miracles, but I have no reason to expect that He’ll do a miracle in my case. I was talking to a friend who heard that my own days were numbered. I didn’t even know that I had prostate cancer. And then it metastasized, and went to the spine. I’ve known it for more than a year. At first, the hormone treatment I was receiving seemed to have inhibited the progression of the cancer. But it’s growing again, and I’m not expecting another year.
As some of my friends have told me, “You never know.” Well, I do know one thing: everyone dies, and the disease that I have is a killer. I also know that I have pretty much completed my life. I’ve been able to do things and see things done that I wouldn’t have imagined.
“But what is it like?” someone should ask me. And if you didn’t ask, I’d like to tell you anyway! It just might be useful to you. I have no sense that I’m dying, because I’m alive, and I’ve never been dead. And though I am pretty sure that heaven is my destination, I just can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. I’ll take God’s word for it, that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9) And I love Him! I suppose that I have two big concerns. The first has to do with pain. I don’t know how much more pain I’ll be facing. I know about the pain that I’ve already had, and it’s pretty brutal. When pain comes, you feel bad for those around who have to endure your moaning and gasping. Endure you must the spasms that pierce areas where you never felt pain.
A lot is standing on the way that I’ll die. And what is standing on it is that my willingness to endure whatever God has for me will be the capstone on a story of redemption. Nobody likes pain, but there’s something with the pain that’s bothersome, and that’s uncertainty: will I be able to endure it? Will I behave with dignity? What I need is the assurance that the Lord will see me through, and that I can testify to His reality and to His presence as I make the big exit off of life’s stage.
During my lifetime, I’ve made a few good friends, and a few good enemies. When I say that they’re good enemies, they’re the epitome of enemy-ship. They’re all-out, wholehearted enemies-people who’ll be glad to hear that I died. Anything that might be good that could be said about me, or any achievement of mine, gives them indigestion.
It’s nice to have such enemies, because at least they feel something. What troubles me is that when I depart, some of the things that I stood for that were really important to me will look like peripheral issues.
Then, there is the grief that one conveys to family and to friends. The worst thing about that grief is that some begin to mourn before you’ve actually departed. I’m not going to mourn for myself, because of, as I mentioned before, my age and my sense of satisfaction. So that brings me to this: I would like to leave a word to those who have come to believe in Jesus. If they, meaning you, would extend themselves to try to understand one thing that I’m trying to say, what would I tell you? Well, I suppose saying, “Trust the Lord” would just about cover everything.
But what I want to tell you is that you need to be precious to one another. You need to be a treasure to one another. You need to see enough of Y’shua in one another that you know that He’s real. Let it be said “See how they love one another.” Let that love be a story to the outside world.
And what would I say to those in ministry? Listen. There are those who think “If I only had a hundred thousand dollars, a million dollars, or even a billion dollars, then, we could (fill in the blank)” No. Money doesn’t do it.
What you need is the hearts of people. They’ll support what they love. Let’s go out of our way to try to understand and appreciate those who are different. Let us be models of forgiveness. What happened twenty years ago, ten years ago, one year ago, yesterday—is not that important. It’s what can happen today and tomorrow.
For my fellow Jewish believers in Jesus: Let’s remember that those of us who are Messianic Jews are not necessarily the brightest or the most dedicated. I don’t know that we’re less bright or less dedicated. But I don’t think that there’s ever been an index whereby we can tell how bright our light is shining, and how much we’re willing to endure for Him. Since there is no index, I’m pleased to believe that others are more and better. After all, the Scripture says to esteem others more highly than ourselves.
I’m surprised at what God gave me through this life that I’ve had: an abundance of friends, opportunities to make myself count, abilities to help other people, enjoyment of people, places and things that gave me great satisfaction. I can’t help but wonder how much greater are the satisfactions in the life to come. There’s pain here and now, but who knows what will be in His presence?
The second thing has to do with an intangible. For the want of something better, I’ll say that I’m concerned about my reputation. During my life, I tried to do certain things. Admittedly, I didn’t always achieve what I wanted, but early on, I wanted to see Jewish evangelism done with a certain character and integrity—a forthrightness. When I first became a missionary to the Jews, our profession did not have a good reputation. The reputation was that we were always fighting with one another, that we were competing to see who was nobler, who was more doctrinally correct, who was more worthy of God’s blessing in the support of the Church.
Now, I’m glad to say that for a period of time, I saw things change a little bit, and I saw cooperation where there had only been contention before. But in recent years, it seems that we’ve gone back to contention. In either case, there’s not much I can do about it. I pray to God for strength to endure whatever pain is my part, and I have to trust that the things that I taught, the things for which I stood will mean enough to others that they will do the work in an ethical way.
I know that my passing is hard on my wife, family and friends. It’s just that I’ve gotten out on the path a little ahead of them. When you know that you’re dying, and that’s all there is to it, there’s the temptation for you to become your own chief mourner. If I were a fourth my age, I might be concerned that I’ve missed something. But at 77, I can’t see how my life could have been fuller, richer.
I stepped down from being the leader of Jews for Jesus in 1996, and the ministry has been in the capable hands of David Brickner and others. So I can see, and I hope that you can see, that the existence of the Jews for Jesus organization is certainly not a monument to Moishe Rosen. But it stands today because of the efforts of many people, and many of you.
So, what’s dying like? Just like all of the other important experiences in life. It can be painful, but it’s an opportunity to experience what we haven’t experienced before, and to show what Y’shua means to us.
Editor’s note: Dad passed peacefully into the presence of His beloved Messiah. Thanks for each of you who have prayed for him and our family.
*adapted and reprinted with Permission from the Messianic Times, May/June 2009