Simon Elman struggled with questions about the suffering he saw already early in his life. In his search for answers he learned that sin is personal and that Jesus is the promised Messiah who came to take upon Himself the punishment for our sin.
Nathan Scharf had a hunger for God that could not be satisfied. In spite of the prosperity in his life, he got addicted to alcohol. At his lowest point he felt so miserable that he felt a desire to commit suicide. Then an old question came up “Wouldn’t you give Him a chance?” He found salvation when he came to Jesus as a sinner.
I was raised in the Jewish tradition and educated in the Jewish law. My mother and I loved each other very much and when I would come home from school I would ask her, “Mother, why am I different to the other boys? Why do they scold against me and laugh at me?” My mother used to take me in her arms and comfort me. She knew what it meant to be persecuted, because she came from the ghettos in Russia. Her parents were killed in front of her when she was just thirteen years old. Later on, she had to work very hard in a bakery and had a very difficult time. However, she told me once that the Messiah would come to redeem us, the Jews. That was what she lived for. She told me, “Nathan, when you have no strength left, you have to ask the Most High for wisdom.” Now I was often without strength and then I would call to God for wisdom as my mother had taught me.
On Yom Kippur, the Day of Reconciliation, we would stay for 24 hours in the synagogue. I would sit downstairs with my father and my mother would sit on the balcony. Beside me my father would wring his hands and call out aloud to God for forgiveness of sins. On the balcony I would hear the voice of my mother above those of the other women. After the day of fasting mother would ask father, “Father, do you feel anything better?” “No, Rosa”, would be his reply, “the same old heartfelt grief is still there”. It was the same every year and finally I didn’t want to have anything to do with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. After all, He didn’t listen to the prayers of the ones I loved so much.
In 1923 Russian born Sara Rabinowitz moved to Central America. After she lost her only son, her grief was great. Then she heard in a talk on the radio that Jesus is a gift of love from God, who came to bring salvation and eternal life. She could hardly believe this. In her despair she prayed to God, “Help me. I want to know the truth about Jesus.”
I was born in the city of Gomel in Russia to orthodox Jewish parents. My mother was very religious and conscientiously kept all the traditions and also taught them to me. As a young woman in 1923, I left Russia and arrived in Mexico with some friends. After a few years I went with them to Costa Rica. Here I met the man, whom later I would marry, and in 1935 we moved to Ecuador.
In this country our only son died in a car accident, this was a hard blow for us. My husband tried to comfort me. He was Christian and now and then talked to me about Jesus but I didn’t want to have anything to do with Him. My parents had raised me to hate Jesus, they had told me that Jesus was the God of the Gentiles and the reason for all our misery. The only thing that I could do to get over my grief was to move to another place. We moved to El Salvador, but my grief became worse and I couldn’t find rest.