The Transformation of a Jewish Atheist


Arthur Katz was a Jewish man raised as an atheist. At the close of World War II, he was in Germany with the American army and saw the gas chambers at the concentration camps. It filled him with hatred, first toward the Germans and then, as he realized that this went deeper than nationality, at the whole human race. He moved back to Berkeley and gave himself to education, but he came to see that it was not the answer. Education could not change hearts, and out of disillusionment, he resigned. His wife lost her mind and was put in a mental institution. Divorced and without ties, he went out to wander.

One rainy day in Greece, grubby and dirty, he was hitchhiking. No one wanted to pick up a seedy looking character like him. He had stood in the rain for hours when a Cadillac stopped. The driver did not just gesture for him to get in, but got out of the car, came around and shook his hand and welcomed him warmly. Then, he drove Art to a hotel, rented him a room and gave him some food. Finally, he asked Art what he was doing and where he was going. All the pent-up heartache, misery, and resentment of a lifetime came pouring out of this young Jewish atheist while the man sat and listened. When Art was through, the man said, “You know what this world needs? Those who are willing to wash one another’s feet.”

Art said, “I never heard anything so beautiful. Why do you say that?”

The man said, “Because that’s what my Lord did.” For the first time in his life, this young atheist heard a clear presentation of what we Christians call, “the Gospel.”

Katz became a follower of Jesus and went on to devote his life to serving the Lord. The thing that broke through all those years of hatred, all the pent-up resentment and bitterness of his heart and life was one act of kindness which manifested to an apparently undeserving young man––genuine courtesy and kindness in the name of Jesus Christ.

Most of the atheism out there is professed by those who have been turned off more by the hypocrisy of professing believers than the lack of evidence for an intelligent Creator. If someone sincerely looks for God, he will see his signature throughout creation. But to know him personally, people must see him in his followers.

Knowing you, do non-believers see that Jesus Christ really does make a difference?

Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God.” –1 Peter 2:12

One Response to The Transformation of a Jewish Atheist

  1. Halina Wisniewski January 30, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    Or, the man could have said to Art – because I know what Love means.

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