Jacob’s journey of faith began when he was a medical student in Moscow 16 years ago. Odd as it may seem, this Jewish physician began his quest to learn more about Yeshua while he was studying at a university in communist Russia.
Jacob’s curiosity led him to attend several lectures by Alexander Menn, a noted Jewish Christian, scholar and Orthodox priest. It was the challenge of Menn that showed Jacob that belief in God and faith in Yeshua were not anti-intellectual and beyond reason. Having grown up as an atheist in Kiev, Jacob had been taught that faith in God was incompatible with any intellectual standards at all. Now he sat spellbound as he listened to Menn explain aspects of faith in an intellectual and scientific fashion.
Jacob left the lectures convinced of the existence of God. The issues concerning Yeshua, however, were different and could not be so easily reconciled. Even though Menn was from a Jewish background, Jacob felt that he represented the Russian Orthodox Church, which to him was a Gentile entity. Jacob was unable to make a commitment to Yeshua at that time, because he felt that to do so would betray his Jewish heritage.
A dozen years passed after Jacob attended those lectures in Moscow. His busy medical career caused him to put the issues of faith and Yeshua on hold. Then came the upheaval of immigrating to the United States. Jaocb’s first thoughts were to provide for his family and to make the many adjustments that were required.
Though Jacob was a skilled surgeon with ten years of experience, he would not be given a medical license in the United States until he first completed a rigorous retraining and then a three-year medical residency program. The studies would be no problem. The trouble was that he needed to earn a living, and the studies meant no income. Jacob was able to get a job as a surgical assistant in a New York hospital.
One summer day while he was commuting to work, Jacob saw someone handing out pamphlets and took one. He quickly realized that it was from Jews for Jesus, and his interest was aroused. It brought back memories of his meetings with Alexander Menn, the last Jewish man he had known who believed in Yeshua. Jacob went back to the person handing out broadsides to ask, This Jews for Jesus, what is it?” After a few moments of conversation, he gave our volunteer campaigner his name and requested more literature.
That was how I came in contact with Jacob, as I followed up on the Witnessing Campaign inquirers. It took me several weeks to get in touch with him. When I finally did, we began to meet several times a month. Our Bible studies were from the Gospel of John, and we focused upon the nature of Yeshua from a Jewish perspective.
Every time we met, Jacob had many questions from his own personal Bible studies. I prayed specifically for him during several personal crises. He would come back and tell me the prayers had helped him.
I realized that Jacob was ripe for salvation. When I asked him if he believed Yeshua was Messiah, he said, “Of course.” When I asked him to pray with me, he said, “Why not?” Together we prayed for Yeshua to come into his life. We prayed in English, and he asked me if it would be all right to pray to God in Russian. I assured him that God spoke perfect Russian, too!
I know that Jacob will grow in his faith. He has had a long-term desire to have a deep and meaningful walk with God. There have been some good opportunities in his career. Now he has the chance to enter a government-sponsored residency program that will provide him with income while he is studying. Jacob sees his life coming together, and he senses that Yeshua is at the center of it all.