Rich Freeman, a Jewish believer in Messiah, came to faith in 1983 through the witness of his wife, Julia. When he told his father, Wally, about his faith decision, Wally was aghast. Born and raised in a secular Jewish home, Wally nonetheless had strong connections with his Jewish heritage and culture. Serving in the Navy in World War II, Wally had also experienced antisemitism firsthand. He could well remember sailors who called him “Christ-killer” and said, “The Germans are doing us a favor.”
Although not a religious man himself, he was nonetheless dead set against Rich’s decision to align himself with what he considered to be the enemies of the Jewish people. Still, father and son remained close. He and Rich’s wife, Julia, had an excellent relationship, and Wally took pleasure in his grandchildren. Throughout the years, Rich witnessed to his father many times.
In 1986, Wally was diagnosed with terminal cancer and fought the ravages of his disease bravely. Rich continued to share the Gospel with him, and throughout his illness, staff members from Chosen People Ministries assisted him in a number of meaningful ways and also shared their faith with him.
Wally confounded his doctors by outliving their original prognosis. Rich recalls that at one point when the doctors were puzzled by an unexpected remission of the disease, they told him, “You must be praying people.”
In 1989, Wally’s condition deteriorated and those close to him knew he was dying. Toward the end of his life, Wally called Rich with an urgent request for a visit. When Rich arrived at the hospital, Wally said, “I had a dream. I dreamed you were right.” While in Beth Israel hospital in Manhattan, Wally saw a vision of Rich. He told Rich, “I knew it wasn’t you, but you told me that your way ‘wins.'”
“Do you believe it?” Rich asked. Wally smiled and said, “Yes.” Soon after, he fell into a coma. As the end drew near, Wally began to struggle. As Rich leaned over him, he whispered, “Dad, Yeshua the Messiah is waiting for you. Rest now.” Wally stopped struggling and died a short time later.
The weekend before Wally died, Rich’s mother, Rita, also came to faith. While visiting at a service where Rich was preaching at Light of Israel Messianic Congregation in Yonkers, New York, Rita received the Lord. Shortly before he passed away, Wally was told of Rita’s decision and died peacefully in the Lord.