It was 48 years ago, during the Passion Week of Christ (about which I knew almost nothing) that my ex-college boyfriend called me in order to coax me into meeting some new friends of his. He did not know that I was in an extremely low place in my life. I had broken-up with him at least a year earlier, and we were not in contact with one another. I was teaching in a public school and he was beginning his studies to become a doctor. He is Jewish. What he did not tell me during that phone conversation was that he had just accepted Jesus as his Messiah/Saviour through the testimony of these “new friends” he wanted me to meet. He sounded so excited and so, I don’t know, just different, that I agreed. The next night I drove 60 miles to have dinner with them and their three small children. My old boyfriend was there, as well. I was shocked by the friendliness and warmth of this family and how genuinely concerned for me they were. I was taken in by their love, and thought how wonderful it would be to have a family like that (mine had been extremely dysfunctional).
I had not been sleeping well for months. I was afraid of dying. I did not know where I would go! My grandfather from Greece had a heart attack in front of me 3 months earlier. He screamed as he was dying, as though he saw things we could not. He was very fearful (he was not a saved man). It terrified me. My best friend throughout elementary and high school was found dead; she hung herself. She was Jewish and did not know Jesus. A boy I dated was found dead. He had gone around a corner too fast and went into a river (in his car) and drowned. He had asked me out that night, but I said no. I would have been with him. I witnessed a car accident occur right in front of me on a Chicago highway. Young children were thrown out of the car. Horrible! I started having panic attacks. My mother took me to a psychologist. He offered nothing, simply telling me my problem was an over-bearing father figure. I ended up in the ER one night, things got so bad. But I had not shared any of this with my ex-boyfriend. I did not share this with these new people either. Obviously, they could see from my countenance that I was lost and in darkness.
So, after a great meal, they took out a Bible. I thought to myself, “Oh no”. Then, for the next 5 hours, they told me truths from the Scripture I never heard before, although I had perfect attendance pins for Sunday School that hung down a good six inches. They told me about the real Jesus, not the impersonal one who He hung on a cross behind the elaborate altar in our church. They talked about having assurance of Heaven in the afterlife (how did they know that was my biggest fear?) and having joy and peace no matter what was happening (again, how did they know?)! I resisted for a while, debating some irrelevant matters with them, but they were excellent “swordsmen” (using Scripture) – and, finally, about 3:00 a.m., the wife quoted a verse of Scripture that pierced me through and through. I do not know what verse it was (I wish I did), but the Holy Spirit used it to convict and convince me that these people were telling me the truth for which I had been seeking! I literally felt as though a bolt of lightning struck my brain, heart, and soul at the same time, and I said, “I want Jesus to save me”. Best words I ever said! I do not remember much about my drive back to my apartment that night, except that I felt like I was on a cloud. I could sleep again. The fear was gone! Solomon said fear is a great teacher! I had every right to fear death before I was saved (and I’m glad I did)!
This took place three days before Resurrection Day in 1972. Passion Week is special to me for many reasons!
Now you may understand why I claim Romans 1:16 as my “life verse”. It is about not being ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation – to the Jew first and then to the Greek. Those wonderful people – the first “born again” Christians I ever met (or who told me they were and actually bothered to witness to me), did things in the right Biblical order, didn’t they (Jew, then Greek)! Ha!