“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Some of the most anxiety producing moments are when we want to share the Gospel with our own family. I always pray that the Lord will open doors with those people whom I meet, so that I will be able to speak of His love and mercy and forgiveness. But those who know us from when we were very young are especially tough. Have you felt that too?
Remember when Jesus said:
“So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57)
Maybe that is true for all of us. People who watched us grow up, and knew our weaknesses and faults, may feel like “Who is she to be saying these things to me!?”
Being from a Jewish family presented obstacles, to say the least. We were told that Jesus was not our Messiah – period. But my dad would talk about Jesus when I was young. He would say that he was a good man – a prophet – and if the world lived by His teachings, it would be a better place to live. BUT – He wasn’t who he said he was. So, a good man lies?
I used to wonder how my dad knew about the things that Jesus said. We didn’t have any New Testaments in our home. I never asked him, but I did wonder. Perhaps along life’s way, someone planted seeds in my dad’s heart. The story I will tell you in this piece about my dad, would seem to support that he had someone share the Gospel with him when he was younger. Maybe it was during WWII when he felt so vulnerable. Only God knows.
MY JEWISH DAD IS IN HEAVEN
In 1995, mom and dad retired to Florida, like many Jewish older people do. I began to write to dad and send him books about Jesus. I sent him a book called “Betrayed” which I highly recommend to anyone sharing Christ with a Jewish person. I wrote about the Lord and what He was doing in my life. He wrote back to me and told me that he was proud that one of his kids cared about the Ten Commandments. That wasn’t exactly what I hoped he would say, but it was a start. I keep that letter in my Bible, and bring it out occasionally. It is precious to me.
As I said, I had witnessed a lot to him through the years. He would upset the rest of the family by watching Billy Graham Crusades whenever they were on TV. When my mom would tell me this, she didn’t know that I treasured knowing that, and it left a big smile on my face.
Dad had a lot of pain in his neck. Mom called one day and said that dad was considering neck surgery. He was a diabetic and people who have this illness do not heal like regular people. I told mom that I didn’t think it was a good idea. Nevertheless, they went through with the surgery and the doctor botched it badly; so badly, that they had to come back up to Maryland. They were going to see a surgeon at a hospital up here.
When I first saw my dad, I was shocked. The doctor had done something during the surgery, which rendered my father unable to hold his head up straight. It lay on one shoulder. I wept when I saw him like this.
He had another surgery to fix that one, but it did not work. Dad was beginning to physically fall apart. It tore my heart to pieces. He began to experience dementia. The nurses explained that metabolic processes were all messed up because of the diabetes, and all the medicines they had him on. I could tell that he was deteriorating.
Even though I was always considered the lesser of the daughters – especially when I told the family that I believed in Jesus as our Messiah, during his last week on this earth, he would tell my mom that he wanted only to see me. This greatly angered my sisters.
Every night after work, I would go and visit him. One night he told me that I was his strongest daughter. He had never said anything like that to me before. Each time I would visit, I could tell that he was going downhill. Finally, my older sisters decided to withhold food and water, and allow him only a morphine drip. He was placed in a hospice-like room in a nursing home. He didn’t get many visitors. It was almost like they were just waiting for him to die.
On that last night, he was going in and out of consciousness. There was no one there visiting him except for me. I held his hand and asked him to squeeze my hand if he wanted me to lead him to Jesus. He squeezed. I led him in prayer, stopping every so often to ask if he understood the prayer, and he would squeeze my hand. I went through the entire prayer of repentance and salvation.
After I got home, the phone rang and it was my oldest sister. She said that dad had passed away. I knew that he was in heaven with Jesus! Hallelujah!!
Thank You Jesus! I can’t wait to see my dad again.
MY MOM’S STORY WAS DIFFERENT – BUT STILL AMAZING
I had shared the Lord with my mom several times after dad died. Every other weekend, I would go over to her apartment and we’d have a sleep over – she loved that. We’d talk about lots of things way into the night.
My mom had been brought up in a secular Jewish home. I think that the first time she ever went into a synagogue was after she married dad. He was brought up in an orthodox home. Mom was not open to the Gospel as dad had been. She made fun of him for watching Billy Graham. She would say that he was meshugenah (crazy).
I remember her getting so angry at me for teaching the kids that you needed Jesus to go to heaven. She said “So, you are telling them that I am not going to heaven unless I believe in Jesus?” I told her yes, that’s what we believed.
Mom had been complaining to her doctor that she was not feeling well; that she had numbness in her nose. Her doctor just brushed her off, telling the family that she had “hysterical female syndrome” from losing my dad. Finally, after about a year of going to the doctor, she called an ambulance for herself. She had been slurring her words, and we could not understand her most of the time. At the hospital they did a CT scan of her brain. She had a huge cancerous tumor that was inoperable.
My older sisters opted for chemo and radiation. My brother and I said that we wanted her to be made comfortable, and have the family around her. The doctors gave her only about 6 weeks to live. As usual, my sisters got their way.
Mom was having a terrible reaction to the chemo, and between that and the tumor, she was walking all over the place and the nurses could not restrain her. One of my older sisters was extremely wealthy, so she hired a nurse to watch over mom during the day.
I came every day after work to see mom. I will never forget the day I met the nurse whom my sister had hired. She knew that our family was Jewish (Rosenberg – that ain’t Irish) but when she saw me, she exclaimed “You know Jesus, don’t you?!” I said that I did, and we hugged each other with tears.
She was a Jamaican lady whose face shone with the joy of the Lord. When I would come in, right before she was leaving, she would tell me that she sang hymns to my mom all day. That made me so happy.
I couldn’t help but see the humor in the situation. Here was my atheist sister, hiring a nurse for mom, who was singing to her about Jesus every day!
Mom died in just a couple of weeks. I believe that the chemo was what took her so quickly. I wasn’t certain that she had accepted the Lord before she died, but I pray that she did – right in the middle of one of those glorious hymns!
I pray that I will see her with my dad when I am finally home.
We never know what God is doing! He goes before us, and is with us at all times. Knowing this makes me bolder in my witness. He died for my sins and your sins, that we might be reconciled to our Father in heaven! How can we keep this to ourselves?
Time is so short, brethren. If there is a person in your family that you have wanted to share Christ with, but have been intimidated by the thought of it; take a deep breath and tell them that you want to know that they will go to heaven when they die. Even if they reject you, you have planted seeds. How do you know that there is not a person in their workplace who is also sharing Christ with them?
We never know what God is doing behind the scenes!
Remember this, brethren:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).