From Judaism to Jesus

Posted by Laura Brown on April 2, 2023
From Judaism to Jesus
Sam and Sarah Adams and their three boys—Harrison (2), Harvey (10), and Huxley (3)—are moving to Grand Rapids in May for Sam's medical residency. Photo by Julie Thiry.

Our stories of redemption are as varied as individual snowflakes. However, Sam Adams is even more surprising than most. His journey to finding Jesus came by way of Judaism.

When Sam was very young, his family attended Christian churches, but they changed churches frequently. They never found one they felt met all of their needs. After many years, his family started attending services coordinated by Messianic Jewish families in the Spokane area. Eventually they transitioned into attending traditional Jewish services in a synagogue.

Sam says when he was young, “there was never a lot of emphasis on Jesus or salvation.” That made the theological jump from Christianity to Judaism seem easier. When he began attending services, the “sense of community and stability” was a welcome change. His parents seemed excited to attend. For the first time, they were content with where they were worshiping.

Sam was 12 years old when his family started the process of converting to Judaism. At such an impressionable age, he was understandably drawn to the Jewish faith. It gave him a sense of community, belonging and – most important to him at the time – an identity.

Changing churches frequently, plus being homeschooled, made it difficult for Sam to relate to his peers. When he suddenly found himself in a community where he had something in common with his peers it practically gave him instant friends and a sense of belonging and acceptance he had not experienced before.

After his family fully committed to Judaism, Sam was at the synagogue at least four times a week for various classes and services. That only served to intensify his feelings of community and identity surrounding the Jewish faith.

Shattered identity

Through high school Sam’s identity became more and more wrapped up in being Jewish, until one fateful day when Sam met a rabbi from an Orthodox sect of Judaism. Sam was a senior in high school and very involved in the youth group at his synagogue. The rabbi wanted to meet with Sam to discuss how to attract more youth to the community.

The day of the meeting, the rabbi was late. Sam’s nerves were already fried after riding a very hot bus and then walking in the summer heat the rest of the way to the Starbucks where they were meeting. Sam only had a few dollars, so he ordered an Americano. After one sip, Sam realized he is not an Americano kind of guy and it only added to his souring mood. To top it all off, when the rabbi showed up, he wasn’t particularly apologetic about being late. Sam was rapidly reaching Oscar the Grouch levels of crankiness.

“I didn’t know where to find God, but I knew I wanted to find him somewhere.”
Sam Adams

The rabbi asked Sam, “Are you Jewish by birth or by choice?” Sam replied that he was Jewish by choice. The rabbi went on to explain because Sam’s family “converted to Conservative Judaism and not Orthodox Judaism, you are not actually Jewish. So I want you to be my connection to the Jewish youth, but you can’t actually attend.”

Sam said meeting with the rabbi “shattered his whole identity.” Over the course of the next year, his faith in anything rapidly declined. After another series of events that caused strife in the community at the synagogue, he stopped attending services completely. For a while, he even considered himself agnostic.

In 2012 Sam gave the Jewish faith one more shot, but again left feeling empty with a God-shaped hole in his heart. He explained, “I didn’t know where to find God, but I knew I wanted to find him somewhere.” He attended a few churches, but nothing really filled the hole, and he became content with ignoring faith altogether.

A change of heart

Sam married Sarah in 2017, and she eventually started looking for a church and renewed her faith in Jesus. During the pandemic, Sarah started streaming Faith Bible Church services online. She enjoyed it and continued to attend after in-person services resumed. Sam started attending with her and they eventually joined a Growth Group as well.

Asked what it was like being a believer when her husband was not, Sarah said she received excellent biblical encouragement and support from Julie Thiry in her Growth Group and Stephanie Graham during biblical counseling sessions. As it says in 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

Sarah reminded herself, “I am not the one in control of changing his heart.” She accepted that God was in charge and would bring Sam to Him when the time was right: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NASB).

Sarah and Sam decided to attend the Fundamentals of the Faith class starting last fall. One Sunday after class Sam told the instructor, Chris Tornquist, that he was ready to commit his life to Christ. As it says in Romans 10:9-10: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Chris and Sam prayed together; Sam confessed his sins and committed his life to Christ.

Sam shared about some of the changes he has experienced in his life since committing it to Jesus. He recently had to complete a series of difficult exams at the end of medical school. During the first exam Sam was very stressed, and the exam proved difficult.

Before the next set of exams Sarah shared Isaiah 41:10 with him: “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Sam explained, “I just kept repeating the verse throughout the exam. Any time I was struggling with a specific problem, I would just remind myself that God was going to help me.”

After nine straight hours in one test, Sam says he never got tired and had much more peace than he had previously. (He scored a lot better on the rest of his tests as well!)

Today, the Faith congregation gets the honor of witnessing the outward representation of Sam’s inner transformation through his baptism. Sam is proclaiming his faith and commitment to Jesus as his King and Savior.

In May, Sam and Sarah will be moving on to the next chapter in their life as Sam starts his residency training in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to become a pediatric cardiologist. Please pray for them and their family as God prepares their hearts for the new path He has laid for them.

Laura Brown

Laura serves in Children's Ministry at Faith Bible Church and is a regular contributor to Faith publications.

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