Jim and Jake

An old college and seminary friend of mine, James Lutzweiler, visited campus, resurfacing in my life after four decades. Jim’s an amazing person, with a world of experiences and gifts—a scholar, archivist, writer, storyteller, and the list could go on. We spent a few hours together during two days; we’re both looking forward to getting together in the future, but not waiting another forty years.

Jim told me an amazing story about an opportunity he had to witness—one of the reasons, no doubt, God gave us the gift of communication. I am thrilled to be able to share his story with you, in Jim’s own words.

“I am reminded of my late communist friend, Jake Cooper. (One can read a bit about him by googling ‘Jake Cooper Trotsky’).

Jake and I lived in the same town of Chaska, Minnesota, for many years, and we used to lunch together and talk reality. If you can believe in oxymorons, Jake was a millionaire communist – well, I never really saw his bank statement but he owned a large grocery store in town. Let’s just say that he was better off than most communists.

Jake had been a bodyguard of Leon Trotsky back in 1940. In fact, he was in Mexico with Trotsky when Trotsky was assassinated. I used to tease Jake that he didn’t do a very good job, and he countered with the fact that he was off duty that day.

In all events, one day I took Jake to lunch for the express purpose of asking him to abandon his vision of Trotsky’s utopia and to commit himself to the Kingdom of Jesus. He took my invitation very graciously but declined to do so because, as he put it, ‘I cannot believe in the resurrection.’ I asked him why he could not. He replied that there was no evidence for it.

Then I asked Jake what happens to a man when he dies. He replied, ‘Your lights go out and that’s it.’ Assuming that unlike us believers all good Marxists had marshaled strong scientific evidence for their beliefs, I asked him what his evidence was for that point of view. He paused for a moment and then replied, ‘Good point. I don’t have any.’ I suggested that he get some, as he needed evidence for his view just as I did.

I wish I could say that this utopian friend of mine had accepted my invitation. It is possible that he did after I moved away and lost track of him until I heard that one day he simply dropped dead in his fishing boat. I hope he was still pondering our talk that day. I know that one of his children was a believer.

I am still soberly pondering something Jake told me that day. He was sixty-seven years old at the time of my invitation and had lived in Chaska all his life. He said quite gratefully, ‘You are the first person in sixty-seven years to ask me to become a Christian.’ At the time there were at least a dozen churches in town and maybe two dozen. I am staggered at that revelation and often muse about what kind of opium those churches are on. I don’t want any of it mixed with the brand I snort.

What is troubling is 67 years old and first time . . . .”

Jim’s story also appeared in The Biblical Evangelist

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