Testimony of Emil Lehmann

“. . . and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11 :6).

I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and was raised by my grandparents who were very Orthodox Jews. My grandfather was a rabbi. When I was only two years of age my mother had to go to work to provide for the family. I was confirmed- Bar Mitzvah – when I was thirteen years of age. Though I tried to keep the traditions of the Jewish religion I never found peace and rest, which is probably the average Jewish testimony. Often as you speak to a Jew about salvation, he will tell you that by observing the Torah, the law, and going to the synagogue, especially on Rosh ha-Shanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), he thinks he is perfectly O.K. – but this is not what the law says.

My Jewish background

I thought that I had eternal salvation because the law said so. The Orthodox Jew believes that the Torah is the source of life. There is a Jewish writing which says, “As the water gives life to the world, so do the words of the Torah give life to the world.” There is another which says, “Great is the Torah which gives life to those who practise it in this world and in the world to come.” I know of no definite rule to follow when talking with a Jewish person, for every conversation may be different when speaking about their salvation. Each one believes he will go to heaven in his own way “because the Torah says so.” Now, I simply believed what I was taught.

They taught me, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” and I believed that. I went to the synagogue every day and three times on Saturday. I believed that I was a good Jew going to heaven. Nobody told me that, but I believed it somehow. Of course, the Jews are not told much about Isaiah 53. My people are never told of a suffering Messiah, for it is against all their imagination. So often they have pointed out that in Deuteronomy 21:23 it says, “He that hangeth upon a tree is cursed of God;” so how could Jesus be the Messiah? Recently I was asked, “Do not the Jews have the Old Testament which tells about the Messiah?” My reply was, “Very few Jews read the Old Testament, which explains why so few of them know about the Messiah.”

Jesus said, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of Me” (John 5:46). My grandfather died when I was about six years old, and when he had been dead for only a few minutes, I asked my grandmother, “Did grandpa go to heaven?” She looked at me and said, “Son, I don’t know.” Often, even today, I think about this. We had no hope, and if Jews are honest they will acknowledge they have no hope either. There is no hope in religion alone-and that includes the Jewish religion. Salvation is in a person, and that person is Jesus, the Messiah. I never knew real love as a youngster. I had a very hard life as a child, but one day a neighbourhood girl who was about eight years old (and a good Christian witness) asked me to go with her to a picnic. I did, and there people showed me great love and spoke to me about Jesus. I remember her name was Joanna. This loving concern later bore fruit in my life.

I needed the Saviour

I came to the United States in 1925. An aunt who lived in Atlanta made it possible. She was an average Jewish woman who would go to the synagogue once-in-a-while. I too wanted to go, but preferred to go to an Orthodox synagogue. After a while, I lost all interest in religion because it did absolutely nothing for me. However, I met my wife in Atlanta and we were married there. In our home we did not let religion interfere with our lives. We bought a house in New Jersey and went along very well, since I had a good job as a mechanical engineer for a large company; but we were not satisfied with our spiritual lives. We were not happy and were drinking a lot. Then one of our neighbours invited us to Sunday School in a fundamental Baptist church. We decided that we had nothing to lose by going, so my wife attended a women’s class and I attended the men’s class. I had a good teacher, a businessman. I would not have gone to hear a preacher, but I did not mind listening to a businessman. One Sunday morning I went to church but sat way back in the chapel, expecting nothing. I wanted no one to recognize me and I planned to get out of that place as soon as it was all over. I had gone to Sunday School to please my wife, but the Lord had a different plan in mind that morning.

God’s word touched my heart

In Sunday School God’s Word was taught, and for the first time in my life I listened with my heart instead of my head. When they opened the Scriptures and read from Hebrews “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” I realized that if this was true, then one second after I died I would be separated from all things in this world. I thought, where will I be, in heaven or in hell? I wasn’t sure that even there was a hell, but I did realize that there would be no room for arguments when I came before God and God showed me that I was lost. I got down on my knees and cried out to the Lord, “Lord, if this is true, I want you to save me.” At that very moment He put His hand upon me and saved me! There was no doubt -I believed in Jesus at that moment, and I realized that this was what I had wanted all my life. From then on I have been able to say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

As I look back over these past years, I am still amazed. I thank God for saving me and giving me the opportunity to teach His word now for over twenty-five years. At about the same time, God saved my wife and the Lord probably realized that I was not the easiest person to get along with, and that if she were to be saved and I was not, there would be a lot of problems. Up until that time I was drinking quite heavily, but right then and there I decided – no more drinking, no more smoking; and God worked this out in a wonderful way. I have never smoked or used alcohol since that day. It is amazing what God can do once we trust Him.

The miracle of my mother’s conversion

When I was saved I became very burdened for my mother. I knew she was somewhere in Germany -I did not know where because it was during the war years, and I realized that if she were still alive she was lost and would be in hell without any question. I wanted her to be saved so very much. I did not know that at that time my mother was in a concentration camp in Stuttgart, Germany. Hitler had put her there. However, I did know that I could pray, and so I asked my wife to pray with me every day. We did just that. We prayed for my mother to be saved if she was alive. I asked the Lord to bring her to this country and save her. She had lived a very hard life and had been sick a lot. I wanted to see my mother again in heaven. Do you know what God did? She was the only woman to come out of that particular concentration camp alive! God brought her to America, so I would know about it, and she had found the Messiah in that concentration camp. Somehow, she had got hold of a little New Testament and read it and realized that it was Jesus Whom she needed.

All the other Jewish women in that concentration camp were killed but she came out alive. When she came to this country I talked with her and discovered that God had answered prayer in spite of thousands of miles between us. I have been to so many Jewish funerals – and they are the worst things that you can ever see. It is terrible to see these Jews who have no hope, but I will see my mother in heaven one day. I remember the day I went to see her. She lived in New York. I sat there and was so anxious to tell her that I had found the Lord Jesus. I had brought a little German Bible with me as I did not know how to go about talking to her. I opened the Bible at the Psalms. I thought that I could read from the Psalms what I wanted to say and not offend her. I had no idea that she was already a believer. We sat together in the kitchen and as I opened the Book reading the Psalms, she put her hands on mine and closed the Book.

She said to me, “Son, I found the Lord Jesus in the concentration camp.” If there had been a hole in the floor I am sure I would have gone right through it. What a time of rejoicing that was! I went home and told my wife. My mother joined a good Lutheran church where they spoke German. When she died the last words she said were, “I will be with Jesus soon.” At her funeral there was an opportunity to witness to those who attended. I told the pastor that there would be many people from all walks of life and requested him to preach the Word of God. I went to the back of the church, kneeled down and asked the Lord to save souls. Even the wife of my teacher, whom I had in Germany, was there. She had found out that my wife came from a Jewish background and was a wonderful Christian.

My Concern for my People

And so it is impossible for me to put into words what the Lord has done in my life, but I can tell you this, that we all need to pray for the Jewish people. This is what I have done since I became a believer. We should “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” so that they may become believers in Him and realize that there is no other way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and there is no other way; so I pray with you that the Jewish people may come out of darkness into the marvellous light of the Lord. There is nothing that brings the joy, life, and hope that Jesus does. Take it from one who knows and has passed from darkness into light – it is real. Our Lord said, “He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.” And so what has happened to me began with a small girl, eight years of age, who loved Jesus and witnessed to an unbelieving Jewish boy. As a result, many other Jews and Gentiles have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. I want to give Him all the glory.

-The Everlasting Nation.

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