Mollis – personal testimony:
I was born in Russia of Jewish parents, and in the heart of Talmudical study, zeal for traditional observances, and great orthodoxy. My education was therefore thoroughly Jewish, and I sincerely and firmly believed in all I was taught, both at home and in school, as being the commandments of God, and that in the keeping of them there was great reward.
Thus far a good foundation was laid, in which I gloried and thanked God that I was born a Jew and well brought up and instructed in the holy law of God and the prophets, and, moreover, in the Oral Law and the teaching of the wise men in Israel.
I may also add here that I was likewise taught several modern languages, and received a fair secular education. For this I have to thank several members of my family at home, who cherished some higher plans in reference to my future career. My father and mother were dead, and it had been their desire that I should learn the banking business when I was old enough. This was not to my taste, and after trying it for awhile, I left home, and went first to Odessa and then to Roumania to visit my uncle. I did not stop very long with him, but left the country and went eastward.
It was during my travels abroad that I first came into contact with Jewish missionaries, and heard of Jesus Christ. I had not read the New Testament before, or even heard of such a book, as far as I can now remember. I was therefore perfectly ignorant of Christianity, and knew nothing of the Gospel. Of course, I heard at home of Russian and Roman Catholic Christianity, but I was a Jew and forbidden to enquire into their religion, or to read their books. One thing, however, I remember, made some impression upon me, and that occurred when I was in Odessa. I saw there some Germans who were Lutherans, and noticed how different they were in their lives and manners from other people around then, but I never enquired where the change came from. And so it was at first when I heard of the missionaries, for I really did not quite know their religion and what they were teaching. I went one day out of curiosity to hear one of them read and expound some chapters on Isaiah the prophet. But when the reader asserted that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, I felt indignant and strongly opposed him. It was an insult, I thought, to suppose that the Jews were in error in regard to Jesus of Nazareth, that the Christians were right, and that our holy religion was inferior to Christianity. I visited, however, the missionary several times afterwards, and argued with him. In the meantime the New Testament was put into my hands, and I was requested to read it. I did so, but I did not relish it, because of the Deity ascribed therein to Jesus Christ. This was the crucial point with me at the time. Still, I continued to read the New Testament; but, I confess it with shame, I often threw the book away form me, or dropped it down on the ground.
Thus for two years the struggle went on, but I searched the Scriptures earnestly and diligently, and besought the Lord to help me, until, by the grace of God, I found the truth, and Jesus Christ was revealed unto me as the suffering, despised and crucified Messiah, who endured all for my sins, for the sins of my nation and of the whole world. The change that came upon me was indeed great; my pride vanished, my dislike of Christ disappeared, all opposition to the truth ceased, and I felt a wonderful love to Him who first loved me, and who gave Himself for me.
I can only speak of it now as a new creation. But it was the view of Jesus Christ upon the Cross which melted my heart. I cannot explain it in words, but it was a reality, and held me fast and absorbed all my thoughts until I could almost realize the words of the prophet Zechariah, ‘And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced and mourn.’ And I did mourn too!
This was no doubt the most remarkable incident in my conversion, and, like Paul of old, I ‘determined not to know anything among men, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’
After my baptism, I wrote home and told them of my conversion, and my faith in Jesus Christ. There was no answer for some time, but it came at length couched in rather mild terms, and expressing a hope that I knew best what I had done, and had taken the step after being fully convinced that it was the right one. But I could read between the lines that they were grieved at home in that I had left Judaism and embraced Christianity, and thus, according to their notion, had become ‘a Meshumed.’ Still, my joy in the Lord increased daily, for I knew in whom I had believed.
As to my future calling, I was uncertain for some time, although it was in my heart to preach the Gospel to my brethren, but the Lord opened a door for me, and I was thankful to realize that it was His doing and not mine.
After three years’ training in a college, I was appointed to labour first in England among the Jews, and then I went abroad and preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles in lands beyond the seas. Whilst abroad I was greatly blessed in my labours, and in one place I officiated in a church and dispensed the Word of Life to Jews and Gentiles for several years.
Since my return to England, I have spent all my time in missionary operations among my Jewish brethren in various towns of this realm, and have sought, by the grace of God, to lead them to Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and Redeemer.
It has been my privilege to preach the Gospel to a very large number of Jews and Jewesses during my missionary career, and the good Lord has been pleased to grant me tokens of His favour and approbation in souls of the House of Israel, whom I have led to the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. I rejoice to know that I have spiritual children who are walking worthy of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Some of them are in the ministry, and others following honest callings and leading quiet Christian and useful lives to the honour and praise of God. And I may be permitted to add that many others perhaps, thought unknown to me at present, have been led to believe in Jesus Christ through my humble instrumentality, and who are known of God.”
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. Keren Ahvah Meshichit, Jerusalem. New edition, 1999