Personal testimony of Rev. Sean O’ Sullivan

I was raised in a devout Jewish home by my Jewish mother and because of her close connection with Rabbis, I was trained under their supervision, but the law of God , thus interpreted, only created in me great bitterness of heart and trouble of soul.

Sean O'SullivanAt the age of five, I was able to read some passages in the Talmud and also in the Tenach, having been taught by my mother to read at two years of age. This prompting by her and praise from the Rabbis who made frequent visits, only induced haughtiness within me. The more religious I became the more miserable I felt. For I was brought to see, through God’s Word, how short I came of His standards. Who, I wondered can keep the whole law and if no one could, he would offend a holy God.

The thought was instilled within me that God expected us to feel proud that we were Jewish and I came to look down upon the Gentiles, but a few Scriptures bothered me such as, “there is none that doeth good, no not one” and “our righteousness is as filthy rags…” and Isaiah went on to say that “there is none that calleth upon the name of the Lord and that He has hidden His face from us because of our iniquities.”

I was confused, but being rather a shy little boy, I could not bring myself to ask my mother or the Rabbis how to escape from this trial. At the age of seven, while playing with friends just after our evening meal, I became afraid because it was getting dark and we were on hilly terrain and I suffered from faulty eyesight and needed help to negotiate the many crags that we encountered. The other boys managed to descend safely but I was left alone trembling with fear and believing that my death was imminent. I was reminded that when in danger say the Shema (Deut.6:4). I clearly remember hearing a voice saying: “Fear not for I am with thee; I will never leave thee nor forsake thee and I will lead thee in the strange path.” I felt a warmth and walked down the hill until I safely reached the bottom and ran home but I did not tell my mother what had happened.

Another incident etched on my memory occurred during my Heder lesson. I had read in the Tenach (Gen. 1:26), “and God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. “’ This fascinated me – To whom was He speaking? So I raised my hand to enquire of our teacher the meaning of the verse. His interpretation was that God was speaking to the angels, to which I replied, that if that were correct, then why does it say that man was created in the image of God. This was never said of angels. My teacher, for whom I had great respect and regarded as a kind man, suddenly strode to my desk and slapped me across the face and warned me never to ask questions again in his class.

At the age of 14 , some friends and I visited a beach and after a swim in the ocean, we observed a crowd had gathered on the beach on which a rostrum had been erected. A man dressed in uniform, which later we learned was Salvation Army, turned to different directions and uttered the words: “The wages of sin is death…” I just took off and ran away as these words frightened me as I had never heard them before. Surely, I thought, wages are something you earn, then what reward is there in sin. If it is death (and all die, then all have sinned). But I did not believe I was a sinner and proudly pointed it out as often as I was asked.

I had given up asking the Rabbis for explanations of Scripture as I was never satisfied with their replies. Disillusioned by them, I began to make friends with Gentiles and was surprised to find that many of them were nice people. Yet I still was searching for something to fill this void in my life. I went from church to church, beginning with the Roman Catholic church, presuming that having an Irish father, he must have been a Catholic, but nothing brought peace to my heart. After many years, I met and married a charming German lady. She was a strict Lutheran and to please her I went to church with her. Later, Eva became disillusioned with the Lutheran church and started going to the Baptist church. Her whole life changed and she began preaching to me about Jesus and what He had done for us to bring us to God. My life was in turmoil and little did I know that Eva and our three little sons were praying for my salvation.

The Lord had truly made her a trophy of His grace and she was a charming person, easy to get along with , a good mother and she always put others before her and I became very jealous of her. Finally, she was so moved by the preaching of a visiting preacher from overseas, and wanted me to go to hear him; but because our eldest son was sick I stayed at home with him. One evening she returned from church, very excited about the latest sermon. As I showed no interest, she vowed never to speak to me again about the Lord. I was in the bathroom at the time and when she went out I asked the Lord how can I believe in a Son of God and that I believed only in Him. I went on to tell God what a good and upright person I was; but if I must believe in His Son He must show me Himself. With that the whole room was filled with a bright light and I threw myself on the floor as I heard that same voice I heard as a child: “Fear not, for I am with thee. There is no other way, for I am the way , the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” I asked Jesus to forgive me my sins and to take over my life. I rushed out of the bathroom shouting. “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, I am saved.” My wife and children were in the bedroom praying for me.

There was great rejoicing. I could testify of many miracles that we experienced but this is not the place to do so as space is limited. For 30 years we laboured in the mission-field for the Master. In 1979, Mr During went to be with the Lord and the Committee, told me that it was Mr During’s belief that the Lord wanted me to head up the work. I promised the Committee that I would pray for the Lord’s leading about it. When they visited me a few days later, as I was informed that they would need my decision then, I took out the book by Spurgeon: “Morning and Evening Devotions” and for that morning it read: “Go and publish the good news abroad.” “That”, I said, “is my leading from the Lord”, and I was accepted.

As we witnessed to Jewish people, my Jewishness became more meaningful to me because I saw in the Scriptures, for the first time that all the sacrifices of the Tenach pointed to a Jewish Messiah. He is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” but He first came as “the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world,” I may say, with the apostle Paul: “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the Flesh I live by the Faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,”(Gal. 2:19-20).


Sean O’Sullivan passed into glory on Christmas day, 25th December 2001 after many years of fruitful labour in the Lord’s service.