My Life Story
by Evangelist Louis Kaplan
Typical Jewish Heritage
I was born of Russian Jewish parentage in New York City where approximately two and a half million Jews live. I attended Hebrew school (Chader) at an early age and was later made "Bar Mitzvah"—"A Son of the Law"—at the age of thirteen, according to the laws of Judaism.
We were taught by the Rabbis to observe rituals, ceremonies and Jewish traditions more than the teachings of the "T'nach"—the Law and the Prophets.
What Jesus described in His day is still true and also characteristic of many Christian churches: "These people draw nigh unto me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. But in vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," (Matthew 15:8, 9).
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14)
The Cross to me was a symbol of brutality, murder, oppression, and hatred. Had not these so-called Christians murdered thousands of my own people during the Crusades in Europe and during the Inquisition in Spain?
I rebelled against the dull, monotonous, repetitious teachings of the Talmud, which did not satisfy the inner man and bring peace to the guilty conscience. At an early age, I decided to run away from home to see the world and seek adventure. I roamed all over the United States doing odd jobs, working on farms, and on construction projects.
One day while working in a packing house in Florida, I became acquainted with a real Christian upon whom God put the burden of prayer for the salvation of my soul. He testified to me concerning the claims of [Yeshua] as my Messiah. This young man, from the very day he saw me, was impressed by God to go home and intercede in prayer before the Throne of Grace for my salvation.
Of course, I simply ignored his testimony about [Yeshua] being Savior of the world, for as a Jew, I had been brought up to regard Jesus as just a good man, one of the greatest philosophers of His day, but certainly not the Divine Son of God—but rather the illegitimate offspring of Mary. Besides. I had been brought up to believe that all Gentiles were Christians, and that they had murdered and massacred, hated, despised, abused, and ill-treated the Jews for centuries. The Cross—to me—was a symbol of brutality, murder, oppression and hatred. Had not these so-called Christians murdered thousands of my own people during the Crusades in Europe and during the Inquisition in Spain?
You see, I did not know the difference—at that time—between a Gentile and a Christian. A Gentile is not a Christian until he accepts [Yeshua] as his Savior and follows in His footsteps. There cannot be any hatred in his heart, for God is there — and God is love!
Many Gentiles have been raised up in a Christian environment, but they have never been regenerated, or born again by the Spirit of the Living God. Our churches today are full of professing Christians who have never experienced the transforming power of [Yeshua] in their lives nor felt the joy of sins forgiven. They have never had a personal contact with [Yeshua] as a Redeemer, Deliverer, and Liberator from the power of sin.
This young man was very kind to me and manifested a concern for the welfare of my soul, which no other person before had done. I do not remember a single word he told me at that time but I do remember the LOVE OF GOD he demonstrated, which touched my heart and set me thinking about the [Messiah] he worshipped.
Apprehended By Love
This young Christian left Florida shortly afterwards and I did not meet him again until fourteen years later. While I was conducting an evangelistic campaign in one of the churches in South Carolina, he came to my meeting and made his identity known. He is now pastoring one of the Assembly of God churches in the South.
One night, having learned that the Nazarenes were conducting a revival meeting in town, I attended one of the services just for curiosity—however, I was also hungering for the precious something that this young man had in his heart which I did not have. The Spirit of God began to move upon me, as the preacher ministered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and I came to the realization that this was what my poor soul thirsted after. But how could I, a Jew, embrace a Gentile religion? (for that is what I thought it was).
After the service, I hesitantly approached the minister and asked him privately if a Jew could be saved? He replied: "Salvation is of the Jews, and Peter and Paul and the prophets were all Jews." I was astonished at that time to know that Christianity sprang from Judaism and that the first Christians were Jews!
I shall never forget that night as long as I live! I ran as fast as I could to the farmhouse which was now my home. A group of Christians were conducting a prayer meeting there and I opened the door, went in and knelt down along with them with my head bowed low in repentance, feeling the guilt and condemnation of sin. Suddenly, I raised my hands toward heaven as the Spirit of God came upon me. I cried out from the depths of my soul for [Yeshua] to save and reveal Himself to me. As I was weeping and repenting of my sins, the Spirit of God came in and I was marvelously saved, and made a new creature in [Yeshua]. The whole world looked different: the sun seemed to shine brighter, the birds sang sweeter, the trees and flowers were more beautiful than ever. Oh, the love of God that just flooded my soul like a river! The peace, the quietness that comes with the joy of sins forgiven! Praise His name! From then on, I began to love the Gentiles, for God had broken down the middle wall of partition between us, and made us one in Him.
"For he is our peace, who has made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandment contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man; so making peace: And that he might reconcile BOTH unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby," (Ephesians 2:14-16).
From the foregoing Scriptures we see that the church of God would not be the Jewish nation, nor would it be the Gentile nations, but JEWS AND GENTILES made one in [Yeshua], thus establishing a New Nation, a Holy Nation; "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body and partakers of his promise in [Yeshua] by the Gospel," (Ephesians 3:6).
At that time, I had been away from home for several years, and after my marvelous experience, I immediately made plans to return to my parents in New York and testify to them that Jesus…was our Messiah and that I had found Him. When I arrived in New York, I little knew of the persecutions I would have to endure.
The Discipleship of Suffering
"And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, '"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:15)
My parents were glad to see me again until I commenced to tell them of the wonderful Savior and the change that had come to my life. They were horrified, stunned, and shocked. This was too much for them to bear, for they thought that I had disgraced and humiliated them and had left the God of their fathers for the false gods of the Gentiles. They even considered sending me to the nearest hospital for observation, thinking that my mental faculties had become impaired during my long absence from home.
Finally, after much persuasion and threatening, they decided it would eventually wear off and that I would forget about Jesus. But, thanks be to our wonderful God, I am still saved and Jesus is more precious to me than ever! Glory to God! In spite of all the persecution and severe testing and trial I have gone through these years, God has enabled me to be faithful and hold fast to that which I have received.
After seeing that I was not to be shaken, neither would I deviate, or recant in any way from my testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, one night at 12 o'clock midnight, my father, who was enraged at my refusal to relinquish this so-called Gentile religion, ordered me out of the house and told me never to return.
Jewish people really pay a terrific price when they accept Jesus; that is why there are secret Jewish Believers who know that Jesus is the Messiah, but dare not make a public confession.
At that time, I was only 19 years of age and did not have any money at all—for it was in the period of the depression years. I was poverty-stricken, alone, homeless, and did not know where to go that night. Oh, how black and dark it was as I packed my handful of meager belongings and left my home in that great cold, unfriendly, calloused city!
Satan began to taunt and tantalize and tell me that I was in trouble now because I had become hoodwinked, blind-folded, and deceived by what I had experienced, and that it must have been just a delusion—a thing of the imagination. You see—Jewish people really must pay a terrific price when they accept [Yeshua]; that is why there are secret Jewish believers in the United States who know that Jesus is the Messiah, but dare not make a public confession for fear of being put out of the synagogues, as in the time of [Yeshua].
Temptation and Transformation!
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
Satan told me my troubles would be over if I would only return home and recant; but praise our God, there had been such a pronounced and drastic change in my life that I would have had to deliberately shut my eyes to the truth that had been unfolded if I were to deny my Savior and Lord. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The veil had been lifted from my eyes and I had been translated from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light!
Through that night of trial, the Spirit of God suddenly flashed these words of comfort and exhortation to me which have carried me through these many years: "When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." I shall never forget the joy and the peace that filled my soul as God spoke to me through His precious Word.
That night I slept in the city subway because I had no place else to go. The next evening I attended a Full Gospel church located in Jamaica, New York, and gave my testimony, telling the Christians there of the stand I had taken for [Yeshua]. They were very sympathetic and kind and counseled me to be faithful and steadfast. A dear, precious Mother-in-Israel, about 71 years of age at that time, told me that God had put it on her heart to take me into her home and give me a roof over my head. Praising God for His goodness in providing a place to stay, I went to her home, little dreaming that what would later take place there would change my entire life.
This dear Mother-in-[Yeshua] taught me one of the most precious lessons—which very few Christians have learned—how to pray and not let go until you have prevailed with God and received an answer! Many hours of fasting and prayer were spent at her home as she led me into the deeper truths of God. I have never forgotten these early days of intercessory prayer, prayers mingled with perspiration, tears and intense desire to get closer to God and be baptized with His Holy Spirit.
The Power of God Manifested—to His Glory!
This dear old woman was later to reap the benefits of leading this poor Jewish boy into a greater relationship and communion with [Yeshua] through consecration and complete abandonment to the will of God; for it was a year later that I launched out into the evangelistic field by faith.
…something happened that put the fear of God into my heart and stirred me to responsibility as a preacher of the Gospel: Hitler embarked on his extermination crusade against the Jews using gas chambers and cremation furnaces.
One day I received a letter from this dear woman that she was dying and had angina pectoris, and wanted her little boy to come and pray for her. I immediately packed my belongings, took a train, and arrived at her home at midnight. When I walked through the house to her bed, I saw her lying there gasping for breath because of this heart ailment, which is sometimes fatal to persons at that advanced age (she was about 75 years of age at that time).
I knelt down at her bedside, lifted up my hands to God, and began to intercede in behalf of her deliverance from this inevitable end. And, thank God, as soon as I had prayed, the Lord Jesus appeared to her and told her that if she would get up out of bed, He would heal her! This she immediately did and was instantly made whole! Glory be to our wonderful God!
Woe Is Me If I Do Not Preach the Gospel
After laboring in the evangelistic field for several years, I was forced to return to secular work again because of the tire and gasoline conservation program launched during World War II. I could not get tires and could get very little gas for my car to keep me in the field as an evangelist. I took a job managing a real estate office in New York City and became so successful that I soon opened up my own office and had men working for me. The money was just pouring in and I became satisfied, smug, complacent and secure—but God had called me to preach the Gospel, and I was not to be engrossed in making money and putting over business deals while souls went to hell.
The Spirit of the Lord began to convict me, and I felt the woe hanging over my head, "If I preach not the Gospel." I became miserable, dissatisfied, unhappy, and depressed because I was out of the will of God. The most miserable place anyone can be is out of God's will. Faith and confidence cannot operate and prayer is of no avail when there is condemnation in the heart. The Bible tells us: "If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and when we do those things that are pleasing in His sight."
I was very reluctant to leave this very remunerative business to go back to self-denial, sacrifice, struggle, and a life of faith. But something happened that put the fear of God into my heart and stirred me to responsibility as a preacher of the Gospel: Hitler at that time embarked on his extermination crusade against the Jews by gas chambers and cremation furnaces, and the Jews began their world- wide exodus and flight to Palestine from the four corners of the earth. With prophecy being fulfilled right before my very eyes, I was moved by fear, as Noah was, to return to the ministry again, realizing that the coming of [Yeshua] was indeed very near. (The Bible tells us that, "By faith, Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, MOVED WITH FEAR.")
Privileged to Participate in Prophecy
The greatest sign, warning, proof, and evidence to the world and to the Church of the end of this age is the restoration and resurrection of the House of Israel after being entombed in the graves of exile for many centuries.
"And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hands again the second time to recover (restore or gather) the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth," (Isaiah 11:11-12).
I sold my business and launched out again into the ministry and I can truly say that God has blessed and prospered me and I have been the happiest man in the world because I am in the center of His Will. The Lord has privileged me to conduct city-wide evangelistic campaigns in the principal cities of America, and I have seen thousands come to the altars in my ministry.
Do pray that God may use me mightily in reaching my own Jewish people with the Gospel, that they might see Jesus as their own long-awaited Messiah.
"Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love Thee." (Psalms 122:6)