Rose was an elderly widow from a wealthy and influential family, well known in Vancouver’s Jewish community. Her husband had been a successful businessman. But it was her relationship with her father that had the most lasting influence. Rose hated her father, who had been harsh and authoritarian. Because of this, she found it difficult to think of God as a heavenly Father. When she was young, however, she had seen a picture of Jesus, who struck her as kind and loving. A desire to know Jesus was born within her and never left.
Rose was in her mid-70s by the time I met her, and she had decided to make one final effort to get to know Jesus. But she insisted that no one in her family or the Jewish community should know of her interest. At times she despaired of even trying, thinking it was simply too late for her.
The first thing I tried to do was to have her read the New Testament to get a real picture of Jesus. I showed her where Matthew was and suggested that if she read a chapter daily she would get through a book a month. My wife Margaret and I also read to her Edith Schaeffer’s book Christianity Is Jewish, which she found helpful. But getting her to read the Bible was more difficult. She just couldn’t do it.
One summer Rose came to visit us on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, where we lived at the time, but she made it clear she didn’t want to discuss religion. She had concluded that if God wanted her to become a Christian, he’d give her a sign. We agreed to her terms but also told her what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 12:38-40 about seeking signs. In effect he said that the only sign they would be given would be his resurrection. We have the evidence for that in the Bible. The Bible is God’s sign to us.
Nevertheless, just as God had allowed Rose to be impressed by the picture of Jesus, he did condescend to give her what she took to be a sign. She had a chronic ulcer problem and had an attack while visiting us. She prayed for peace and that her ulcer would not bleed. When she got to the hospital, she found that God had heard her prayer. Encouraged by this, she determined to seek Christ again.
We again encouraged her to get into the New Testament, showing her once more where Matthew was and suggesting she read a chapter a day. I called her at her home the following week to see how she was doing with her Bible reading. She was halfway through Mark!
Not all our problems were over, though. While she gladly embraced Christ as her Messiah and the Son of God, she had difficulty understanding how he could also be God. We had many discussions about these issues.
Sadly, Rose developed cancer and died quite suddenly, still with many questions, but with what I believe was a genuine faith in Christ. She used to sing a childhood song into which she had interposed the name of Jesus. How much understanding God requires as evidence of faith must ultimately be left for him to judge. But the thing that impressed me and gave me hope was the way Rose started to make real spiritual progress as soon as she began seriously reading the Bible with a sincere desire to learn. Whoever comes to it with such a desire to learn and to find God will not be disappointed.
- What has been your experience sharing your Christian faith with people who aren’t Christians?
- How prominent should the reading of Scripture be in our ministry of evangelism? What are some ways we can incorporate it?
- Have you ever interpreted certain events in your life as signs from God? Please share them, if possible.
- Can you identify people in your life that you can share your Christian faith with? How can you best minister to them?
About the Author
J. Cameron Fraser, DMin, is a retired Christian Reformed pastor in Lethbridge, Alta., who now concentrates on writing as well as occasional preaching. His latest book is Evangelicals and Abortion: Historical, Theological, Practical Perspectives.