Last week, I examined Christian conversion to Islam and Muslim conversion to Christianity in France.

Today’s story comes from the UK and concerns a Jewish entertainer who became a Christian.

My thanks to Pastor Ashcraft’s Mustard Seed Budget and his Godreports news site for this story. The original source is Assist News, acknowledged on both sites.

In the early 1960s, Helen Shapiro was at the top of the British music charts with hits such as ‘Don’t Treat Me like a Child’ and ‘Walking Back to Happiness’. She was so popular that an unknown band of mop-tops from Liverpool, the Beatles, actually opened for her on tour in 1963! One result for them was that their ‘Please, please me’ reached Number 1. The rest is history.

As the 1960s progressed, styles in music and dress changed dramatically. The public viewed Helen as a nice enough transition singer from the 1950s to the early part of the next decade. She was eclipsed by younger, hipper stars such as Dusty Springfield, Lulu and Cilla Black (who died in 2015).

By the 1970s, she was still appearing live at concerts but no longer as a headliner. She also appeared occasionally on television and in London’s West End as Nancy in Oliver!

Throughout her career, she felt an inner emptiness. When New Age and spiritualism became popular, she turned to both, leaving the Judaism of her childhood behind for good. However, even modern mysticism could not fill the void. Even worse, by the time she turned 40, Helen

doubted the existence of God.

A male acquaintance gave her a copy of Stan Telchin’s Betrayed, a book which traces his own spiritual journey from Judaism to Christianity. Telchin was angered — feeling ‘betrayed’ — when his daughter announced she became a Christian. He went through the Bible attempting to prove to her that Christ Jesus is a fraud — only to discover for himself that He is the Jewish Messiah.

Helen read Betrayed in amazement (emphases mine):

Isaiah 53 was about how He took our sin. I was gobsmacked,” Shapiro told Assist News. “And Daniel prophesied that the Messiah had to die before the temple was destroyed. It all seemed to point to Jesus.”

Acquiring a copy of the Bible:

Shapiro ventured into dangerous territory. She read “the chunk on the end I’m not supposed to read,” she said, referring to the New Testament.

She was hesitant, remembering a boy from her childhood accusing her of crucifying Jesus. What would the Gospels tell her?

She was still half-expecting “anti-Jewish poison” based on her previous encounter with false Christians. Instead, she found that the Gospel of Matthew was “the most Jewish thing outside the Old Testament,” she said. She was shocked to discover it was not an anti-Jewish rant.

Jesus rose up out of the pages of the New Testament to me and I fell in love with Him,” said Shapiro, born Jewish. “I was so taken with Him. He looked at people’s hearts and saw all the rubbish and yet still loved them. Even in his agony, He came out with gracious, comforting words. I saw that He was fulfilling one Messianic prophecy after another.”

However, her search did not stop there. She adopted a Berean-type approach to it and went back to the Jewish texts, the Tenach,

to verify the translations, and she saw for herself that the Scripture was handled accurately, she said.

There they were in all their glory,” she told ASSIST News.

How marvellous that divine grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit were at work within her!

She studied all the Gospels:

By the end of John I knew without a shadow of doubt that Jesus was the fulfillment of every Messianic prophecy,” Shapiro said. “I knew that He was the Jewish Messiah.”

She met up with the man who gave her the copy of Betrayed. He was her witness when she formally became a Christian on August 26, 1987.

She said that conversion was not exciting — good! — but that faith is sustaining:

There were no lightning flashes, but somewhere inside I knew that I knew, and that there was no turning back,” Shapiro said. “The Creator and sustainer of the universe came to live in my life. I didn’t get religion. I got Jesus, and I love him.”

What an encouraging, wonderful story!

Speaking personally from past experience, several of my Jewish acquaintances were skittish about befriending a Christian. Some of their friends told them not to build a relationship with me because, eventually, all of us are fair-weather friends who will turn anti-Semitic. Jewish people often say of Gentiles, ‘You have only to scratch the surface before you see them turn against you.’

I do not think that is true these days, however, this attitude does explain why we should be on our guard against making ignorant comments. Note how Helen Shapiro was put off from the New Testament by the remark the boy made when they were children.

It’s important for us to train the loved ones in our family not to make hurtful statements which may be remembered for decades. A surprising amount of anti-Semitism, especially through age-old conspiracy theories — often started by the anti-Semitic Left, by the way — comes through online, including a few past comments to my own site. Please, cease and desist.

For those engaged in mission work, it is worth noting that St Matthew’s Gospel was the one which most resonated with Helen Shapiro as being ‘the most Jewish’. As most clergy know, Matthew wrote it with the Jews in mind, starting with our Lord’s genealogy and moving to miracles, all the while proving the truth of the Old Testament prophecy as being fulfilled in Him.