“I hope you’re not going to be upset with me, but I’ve become a born again Christian and I’ve asked Jesus to forgive all my sins.”
Those were the surprising words of 88-year-old Leah* to her 70-year-old daughter, Lilly,* just a few months ago.
Raised in an Orthodox Jewish orphanage, Leah’s strict upbringing included keeping kosher and attending synagogue regularly. Once she was on her own, like many Jewish people, she remained strong in her Jewish identity, but departed from “the rules and regulations.”
I first met Leah four years ago at our Rosh Hashanah service. As far as we could tell, Leah enjoyed the traditional blowing of the shofar, the familiar Jewish liturgy, and the apples and honey, along with various sweet cakes celebrating the New Year after the service.
What she thought about the message—which pointed to Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah—or the personal story of the Jewish believer that was part of the service, I don’t know. She was not ready to speak to me about spiritual matters… not yet. She had come with her new Christian friend, Carol.
How these two came to be friends is a story in itself. Carol had been door knocking in Leah’s area and Leah, expecting someone else, let her in. Then, completely surprised to see Carol, she asked, “How did you get in? I don’t open the door to people I don’t know. "
Carol replied, "I’m a Christian and I have been praying for people who live in this neighborhood. The Bible says, ‘See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name’” (Revelation 3:8). This made quite an impression on Leah!
Though Leah did not have much to say about our Rosh Hashanah service, Carol continued to invite her to various church services and special events over the years.
Last year, Carol once again brought Leah to our Rosh Hashanah services. And once again, Leah was not ready to discuss spiritual matters with me. But clearly, Carol was continuing her faithful witness.
And then it happened. This year, Carol and Leah came to our Passover event—and Leah even brought her daughter. She was clearly more open to the gospel than previously, and we talked about getting together.
Leah has very severe cellulitis in both legs and is quite unwell, so it was a couple of months before we actually had our visit. Carol was with us as we read Psalm 23 and John 10. Leah understood that king David called the Lord his shepherd. And she was delighted to see Jesus claiming to be the Good Shepherd in John’s Gospel! She finally understood that He is God.
Leah told me that over the years she’d come to love Jesus and even to believe in His death and resurrection for a while. I explained that believing who Jesus is is not the same as receiving Him. Leah was perfectly alert and focused as she responded, “You mean I need to have Him live inside me.” She’d had all of the usual fears about repercussions with her Jewish family. But praise the Lord, He overcame those fears on our very first visit! Leah agreed to let Carol lead her in a prayer of repentance.
I’ve been in close contact with Leah ever since. Despite her concerns, she was quick to tell her daughter Lilly about her faith. She also told Lilly (and me) that every time she says Jesus’ name she tingles!
Would you pray for Leah to grow in faith, and that her Good Shepherd would heal her? Please also pray for her 70-year-old daughter Lilly to turn to Jesus.
Thank you for your prayers and support that enable Jews for Jesus to meet and minister to people like Leah. And praise God for Carol, whose faithful love, witness, and willingness to bring her friend here and there bore fruit for the kingdom.
*not their real names