Testimony

Support Ruth Nessim

Life in a Dysfunctional Family

How does God draw to Himself a young Jewish girl growing up in an underprivileged east London home and facing the terror of an abusive father? In Ruth Nessim's case, the Lord powerfully won her to Himself, but He did so very slowly—or rather, in His good time. With her mother being a secular-minded Jewess—and her Gentile father a rank unbeliever—Ruth grew up with virtually no acquaintance with the things of God in her home. Certainly she knew nothing of Jesus.

Step One: The Trauma of War — Ages 6-9

People often ask, "Why does God allow wars?" In Ruth's case, He used it to give her a first small taste of the Gospel message while separated from her parents as an "evacuee."

In 1942, the authorities placed seven-year-old Ruth for several months in a private home in Dawlish, located on the Devon County seacoast. Here, while attending the local school, Ruth heard a simple presentation of the Christmas story: how God sent His Son into the world because He loved mankind. This was a refreshing message for the young Jewish girl with a hurting, tender heart.

Though not yet saved, Ruth now carried the seeds of faith within her, having somehow come to love "this Jesus, whoever he was." In her own childish way, she even began to pray.

Step Two: Post-War Hardship — Ages 10-12

Almost immediately following the war, the Lord again worked providentially to draw Ruth—now 10 years of age—ever closer to saving faith. In this instance, God chose to operate against a backdrop of poverty and domestic violence in London's tough East End.

Not far from her family's hovel was a little Anglican church, where Ruth—alone and without anyone's prodding—began attending on Sundays. The hymns she heard there appealed greatly to her. She still vividly remembers one particularly special one, which goes in part: "There's a friend for little children above the bright blue sky. A friend who never changes, Whose love will never die. . . . For everyone is happy; nor could be happier there." "And I loved that hymn," recalls Ruth.

"I was so in need of a friend and a home. . . .

About this same time, Ruth's mother, Hannah, for reasons of convenience rather than of faith, had her children baptized. Ruth took the event to heart, now calling herself a Christian, though she still knew nothing of the new birth.

Soon afterwards, Hannah transferred Ruth to the local Anglican school. Here, in daily morning assembly, Ruth sang more hymns—such as, "When Morning Gilds the Skies"—songs that have remained with her all her life. At this time, still largely without any Bible training, Ruth notes: "These hymns became the basis for my theology."

Step Three: Continued Hardship, Bible Study, and a Rally — Age 13

When she was 13, Ruth's family moved to yet another part of east London, forcing her to leave her beloved church behind. Quips Ruth, "That's the story of my life: 'And we moved. . . .'"

Ruth recalls, "The [domestic] violence at this point was so terrible. And it got worse and worse. . . ." Her sadistic father would chase them and throw things at them, and often hit them—and on occasion even kicked Ruth's pregnant mother. "We were good at running and dodging, though," admits Ruth. "And we'd go to sleep with knives or bottles or coat hangers, in order to ward off any nighttime attack." And during this time, her mother became verbally and emotionally abusive, too—perhaps as a carryover from the bitterness she felt in the face of her husband's cruelty.

Angry and confused as she was, Ruth still truly desired to find a church in her new neighborhood. A kindly teacher at her school (Raine's) took pains to find Ruth a "very, very evangelical" Anglican church, which she came to love.

Participating there in a Sunday afternoon girls' Bible study where the curate's wife was teacher, Ruth was terribly disruptive in class. Both the curate and his wife "prayed very intensely" that this problem girl "would come to know the Lord," though doubting she ever would. But God was at work in Ruth's heart.

While attending a Tom Rees evangelistic rally, the troubled teen raised her hand and went forward, asking the Lord into her life. Initially receiving this news with skepticism, the curate's wife confided to Ruth years later: "I could only marvel at the grace of God, and what He did for you."

Aftermath: Used of the Lord on the Mission Field

Having truly come to know the Lord at age 13, Ruth still struggled for years against the obstacles of poverty and parental abuse. Persevering with God's help, after high school she remarkably completed eight years of study—in three different disciplines—by age 26.

Since then, Ruth has served for over three decades on the mission field—most of that time alongside her husband, Albert, in the land of Israel, where the two reside today. Ruth is indeed a special member of CJFM's team: The Lord handpicked her for Himself!

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