top of page

“Am I Going to Die?” Ron’s Testimony

Updated: May 19, 2022

That was the thought going through my mind one dark evening in the middle of North Carolina on a cool October night in 1983. Death was always a concern for me. I loved life and didn’t want to die—not now, not ever. However, as the small, yellow car swerved from side to side and then began to spin around, that was the thought racing through my mind, “Is this it? Am I going to die?”

The car finally flipped over once or twice; I can’t remember. What I do remember was the first thought that came to my mind as we sat in the car in shock in the middle of nowhere: Jesus is not real. If Jesus were real, this would not have happened.

That was a strange first thought for a young Jewish man who was raised with the belief that Jesus was not the Messiah. Why would such a thought even be a concern? Especially when my main concern should have been getting out of the car and getting help.

To explain that, I have to take you back about eight months.

First, a little about my background. I am Jewish. I was circumcised on the eighth day, went to Hebrew school (this was a three-times-a-week Jewish Life and Culture school that most North American Jews go to in addition to their formal education), and became Bar Mitzvah when I was thirteen.

I was not religious, but neither was I an atheist. I did not see any clear evidence for God or really care that much, as my main purpose in life was to have fun.

When I was 17 years old, I began to notice a change in the way my best friend Brian was acting. After quizzing him, it became clear that he had a deeply religious experience with Jesus. I was not happy for him as I always looked at religious people as boring or weird. Why would anyone want to be religious? I thought. Nevertheless, it didn’t have anything to do with me because I am Jewish, and while I was not on the path to becoming the next Maimonides (Jewish sage), I did know at least one thing about being Jewish—and it wasn’t what we believed, but rather what we didn’t believe. We don’t believe in Jesus.

Nevertheless, Brian’s newfound faith did awaken an awareness in me that I had no idea where I was going after I died. So many of us spend our whole life preparing for a thing called retirement, a period of time that some people never even reach, and others only spend a short season there before they die. So much emphasis on this season, and yet we never take the time to think of our eternal retirement and what we must do on earth to secure it.

Despite my passion for fun, I realized that if I died and spent eternity in hell, it would not be worth it. I had to find out the truth. Who is God, and how do I serve him? This realization came to me about a month after Brian’s experience.

On one occasion, we were together, and Brian had been using a certain phrase to describe his new state of being: Born again. “Brian, there is nothing in the New Testament about being born again!” I blurted out. This was funny because I had never read the Old Testament, much less the New Testament, but somehow, I knew there was nothing in it about being born again. That is until Brian opened his New Testament to John 3:3. In this passage, Yeshua is talking to a Jewish rabbi named Nicodemus. Nicodemus believed that Yeshua had been sent by God because of the miracles He had been performing and wanted to ask him some questions. Brian read these words to me:

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

When Brian read those words to me, it was as if swords came flying out of heaven. I knew it was true. It was as if something had been blinding me, and suddenly, I could see. But I wasn’t too crazy about what I saw! I screamed inwardly, “No, this can’t be true. I am Jewish, and we don’t believe in Jesus!”

Over the next few months, I continued to wonder if this Yeshua could actually be the Messiah of the Jewish people, the way to eternal life. On Yom Kippur 1983, I decided that I would do something radical—I would fast! As I said, I did not grow up religious, and while I always went to temple to pray on Yom Kippur, it had never entered my mind to actually not eat for 24 hours. However, I wanted to find God—to find truth, and as a Jew, this seemed like the most logical place to begin my search.

That evening I saw a young lady in whom I had been interested. She literally threw herself at me. (This had never happened to me before!) Her intentions were clear. However, contrary to everything inside of me as a young man, I pushed her away and told her that I could not. I was intent on finding God, and I knew that breaking one of the ten commandants by taking advantage of a drunk young lady at the beginning of my fast was not the best start.

After 24 hours of not eating, I did not feel any closer to God. I was hungry, though! Discouraged, I headed off to college in North Carolina. I had hoped to find God, and I didn’t feel any closer than when I started.

About a month later, I was home during a five-day break from school when I ran into Brian. The conversation quickly turned to Yeshua. Truthfully, I only had one question for him. My Jewish heritage was important, but I was willing to suffer criticism and even persecution from my own people if, indeed, it turned out that Yeshua was the Messiah. However, as an 18-year-old who loved to have fun, I had to ask Brian this one thing: “Is your life better now than it was before?”

You see, I loved my life. Sometimes that meant doing things I knew were wrong. But I didn’t want to trade my fun life for a boring, religious life. Like I said before, other than Brian, everyone I knew who was religious seemed depressed and miserable—completely uninteresting. And if that was what Brian was offering, I wasn’t interested.

It seemed to me that the deal was that you live a boring life for God, and your reward is eternal life. Of course, seventy or eighty years of boredom in exchange for eternal life is still a pretty good deal, but I was about to find out that that wasn’t God’s plan.

When Brian answered me, his face lit up with joy. “I know God,” he confidently exclaimed, and I could see he was telling the truth. “Ron, there is no comparison to the old life.” That was enough for me. I told Brian to call me up that weekend to go to his congregation. I wanted to check this out. However, when the ringing phone woke me up after a night of drinking and partying, I told Brian I would come some other time.

Not long after that, I returned to Richmond again, this time to buy supplies. I was in the pharmaceutical business at that time in my life. What I mean is I would buy caffeine pills and sell them to friends at school, telling them it was speed. They didn’t know the difference; it was legal, and I had some spending money. On the way back, the young man who drove me, Dean, and I began to talk about religion. I told him that my friend had been “born again” and had been talking to me about Yeshua. He said that he also had been a believer.

What he meant was that in high school, he had given his life to Yeshua, but then later on, because of pressure from his friends, he left his faith. I asked him, “What was your life like when you were serving Yeshua?” This was still my main question.

Suddenly, just like Brian, his face lit up as he began to talk about Yeshua. “I had purpose. I woke up every day high on God.” As he went on to share about how wonderful it was to live for Yeshua, I couldn’t help but wonder why he would give it all up. “In the end, I cared more about what my friends thought,” was his answer as his face when from light to darkness.

We continued to talk for the next two hours about Yeshua, and as we were talking, a presence came into the car. I had never felt such peace before in my life. What was this?

Dean told me that on Thursday, he was going to take me to a movie about Yeshua in his hometown of Durham. I consented to go, and at the end of the movie, we were both in tears. It was a powerful movie, but I was smart enough to know that movies can sway your emotions in many directions. I wasn’t going to start believing in Jesus because of a movie.

However, on the way home, I did something very unusual—something I can’t remember ever doing before—I prayed. “God, I believe You are real. A year ago, I wasn’t sure, but now I am. I need to know how to serve You. Do I become a religious Jew? Lubavitch? Or is Yeshua the Messiah? If You show me, I will serve You.”

As I was praying silently, Dean suddenly lost control of the car as we went around a curve. The car began to swerve from side to side and then began to spin out of control. That was when I wondered, “Is this it? Am I going to die?”

Upside down, Dean and I made our way out of the car and walked to the road. Many people wrongly assume at this point that surviving the car accident is what caused me to embrace Yeshua. On the contrary, my first thoughts after realizing I was alive were, “Yeshua can’t be real. This would not have happened if Yeshua were real.” My goodness, my first prayer, and I nearly get killed!

The story doesn’t end there. There was only one house near us, as we were in the middle of farm country. We walked up to the house and knocked on the door. Dean was in shock as he had not only totaled his car but also almost killed us. I was still thinking about God.

A married couple opened the door. They were very helpful, and the husband took Dean to use the phone. Meanwhile, I noticed a Bible and a ma