After Ninety-Two Years: Childlike Faith
Every year during the Easter/Passover season Jews for Jesus sends a number of us missionaries to churches throughout the United States where we present a message called Christ in the Passover. During these tours we show many people the Jewish roots of their Christian faith, and as we travel about we also have an opportunity to reach out evangelistically to Jewish people in areas where we may not have regular staff.
Even now many of our staff are out once again, ministering through these Christ in the Passover tours. Hopefully the following account of one of my experiences last spring will encourage and motivate our friends to pray for this phase of our evangelistic ministry.
My speaking tour took me to the western part of Texas, where I had opportunities to hand out tracts on a number of college campuses. I also met with some Jewish people. One of the highlights of my tour occurred in Hereford, Texas, where I led an elderly Jewish gentleman to make a commitment to his Messiah.
After I had spoken at their church, a number of people came up and told me about a Jewish man who lived in that town. He had lived there for many years and now was in a convalescent home. His friends said they had invited him to come and hear my presentation, but at the last minute he had changed his mind, because he did not want to leave the convalescent home after dark.
They also told me that Sam’s (not his real name) grandson was a Jewish believer in Jesus. For years Sam and the rest of the family had not accepted the grandson’s new beliefs.
I thought, How often do I come to Hereford? Let me seize this opportunity while I have the chance.” I got the address where Sam was living, and the next morning I went to visit him.
I learned that Sam had been born in France but had been living in Texas for almost his entire 92 years. When I told him who I was, he welcomed me and was glad to meet a fellow landsman (literally “countryman,” but in this context “fellow Jew”).
I mentioned my Jewish upbringing in New York, and after that we related to one another almost as longlost friends. Sam told me a bit about himself, and then I asked him about his grandson and what he thought about his beliefs in Jesus.
Sam said, “It’s okay that he believes the way he does.” Detecting some openness in Sam’s tone of voice, I decided to ask if I could read to him from the Jewish Scriptures. He was agreeable to that, so I read him the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. As I finished verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” I asked him who he thought the passage was describing. He said, “Jesus”
Pleasantly surprised to hear Sam’s response, I asked him if he wanted to acknowledge his sins before God and ask Jesus to come into his heart. Like an innocent little child, he said, “Yes.” We prayed together and talked a little further, and then I had to leave.
The story does not end there. I stopped by the church where I had spoken the night before and told the pastor of Sam’s new commitment to Christ. I also asked if he would follow up on Sam, and he said he would.
Then I left Hereford to continue my speaking tour for the next two and a half weeks. As I traveled I asked prayer in a number of churches for Sam’s growth in the Lord.
I was amazed to discover that three or four people already knew of Sam. Sam had worked with a number of their parents fifteen or twenty years before, and for years they had been praying for Sam’s salvation.
It was exciting to see this evidence of God’s faithfulness in honoring prayer, even over the span of many years. Even more exciting to me was the fact that at ninety-two years of age a person could still have the simple faith of a little child and be born again into the Kingdom of God.
Rob Wertheim is a senior missionary serving with the San Francisco branch of Jews for Jesus. He has been on staff since 1988 and has participated in and led several outreaches during that time. Rob’s father and mother are Holocaust survivors, originally from Germany and are also believers in Jesus. His wife, Sandy, is a Jewish believer as well. However, she is the only one in her family that knows the Lord. Rob and Sandy have three grown children, Saul, Rose and Josh.