Oded Cohen

Oded Cohen I was born and reared in Israel at a very secular kibbutz. Of course, we celebrated all the Jewish holidays. However, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, instead of fasting as it is commanded, we held a big barbeque. When we were able to get hold of a pig to roast, it was a major accomplishment. After serving in the Israeli army, I came to America and later married my wife, Bimini. After a few years, she wanted to convert to Judaism. She began reading the Torah and this inspired me to read the Bible also—I didn’t want her to know more about my Bible than I did! However, very soon, to my dismay, she “turned Christian” on me.

I vigorously opposed all Bimini’s attempts to share Jesus with me. Eventually, she flagged down a Jews for Jesus missionary handing out tracts on Market Street in San Francisco. She said we needed help.

I didn’t think that I needed any help, but since it was so important to my wife, I eventually allowed a Jews for Jesus missionary to visit. When Garrett Smith came, I asked him to show me in “my Bible” where it says that Jesus is the Messiah. To my surprise, Garrett showed me many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and pointed out how Jesus fulfilled them.

After a good while, Garrett told me to ask the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to reveal to me who Jesus is. And I did.

Amazing things began to happen. Our pet bunny was paralyzed in her rear legs and had been for nearly a year. One evening, I laid my hand on her and said, “Jesus, if you are who they say you are, let’s see you heal her!” (I didn’t realize Who I was talking to at the time!) Before I even opened my eyes, she began hopping around the room on all four legs! After the initial shock wore off, I quickly dismissed it as a coincidence.

One day I told Bimini it was ridiculous to believe that God would actually judge people, or that we needed a savior. That night, I dreamed that my favorite radio talk show host—whom I greatly respected—told me, “Oded, read the story of Lot’s wife in the Bible.” When I awoke, I had no idea what it meant, but when I read the passage, it made perfect sense. I saw that God is serious about sin, and about faith and obedience. To this day, my wife and I remember how God loves me so much, He was willing to come to me in a dream disguised as a talk show host to get me to listen!

God continued to be gracious to me with miracles and signs, and I finally relented and received Him as my Lord and Savior. Garrett would later use me as an illustration of 1 Corinthians 1:22, which says that Jews demand miraculous signs.

Since opening my heart to Jesus, my life is filled with joy and the peace of God. I understand that all the Bible stories I once viewed as fairy tales are precious and true. My traditions now have deep meaning for me. Most importantly, the God I once heard about, but never knew, is now a very personal and living God in my life. I want to serve Him with all of my heart and give Him all that I am.

If you are a longtime friend of Jews for Jesus, you may remember the story of Oded and the bunny from our newsletter years ago and perhaps you even prayed for his salvation!

Bimini

My brother called me “resilient” because as a baby, I fell out of my mother’s car as she made a quick turn. As I lay beneath the car behind her, my mother rushed to retrieve me. The driver of the car panicked, put her car into reverse and backed over me. When my mother rushed me to the hospital, the doctors found that no harm had come to me—the tire tread imprints across my chest marked the incident.

No one told me that God’s mercy had kept me unharmed, but I grew up sensing that some divine force was watching over me and protecting me. During my elementary school years, I attended a Catholic church with my best friend. At home, there was a statue of Buddha, which is common in the Chinese tradition of my family. I had some faith in God, but was unsure of who He was.

Years later, when I married my husband Oded, an Israeli, we began celebrating many Jewish holidays together. Even though Oded was secular and not religious, we fasted on Yom Kippur and lit candles on Hanukkah. We also recited prayers and sang songs of praise to a God we did not know. During Passover, we read from the Haggadah and ate matzoh. (The unleavened bread is a bit dry for me—I still prefer rice.) I was attracted to a certain beauty, depth and richness in his heritage.

I began reading the Torah and asked a friend about local rabbinical teachers. My in-laws, who live in Israel, were pleased to hear that I was considering converting to Judaism. Then we bought a car from the Richmond Rescue Mission. When Dr. Malcolm and Mrs. Jo Lee, the directors of the mission, learned that I was reading the Torah, they read a Scripture verse to me: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

The Lees gave me my first “whole” Bible (including the New Testament). I began reading it as some friends at work prayed for me to see the truth. Before I even finished the Gospel of John, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior!

As I shared my newfound faith with my husband, his first question was, “Aren’t Christians the ones who hate the Jews?” I tried to explain the difference between what Jesus taught and what people have wrongly done in His name. But my husband was obstinate!

One day I saw a Jews for Jesus missionary handing out tracts on Market Street, and I told him that we needed help. The rest as they say “is history” (or at least it’s stated in my husband’s story which I hope you’ll read).

We praise God for the precious Word of Life that was so faithfully shared with us. Please pray that we will be faithful as well, and that we will do all that we do in love. We thank the Lord for each one of you. It is your prayers and support that make this work possible.

oded