Sons From Afar is the inspiring biography of Joseph Aaron Lessin, the son of a first-generation Russian Jewish immigrant.
Growing up on the poor, lower east side of New York City, Joseph believes in God, but only knows God through the lens of his Jewish heritage.
In conversations with his father and his uncle, Joseph becomes aware of God’s penalty for sin. He comes to recognize his sin debt and a need for something or someone to cover that debt.
He grows up and marries. After suffering a heart attack at the age of 30, Joseph moves his wife and two young sons to California. He starts to overmedicate on the drugs for his heart problems and also begins to emotionally abuse his family.
With his life spiraling out of control, Joseph finds himself at a Las Vegas casino hotel with his friend, Sam.
While standing at a dice table, Joseph hears a mysterious voice clearly say, “Joseph, get away from the table now.”
He returns to his room and finds a Gideon Bible in the desk drawer and begins to read it:
“A Bible!” he exclaimed out loud. Joe had never read a Bible¬—only the Hebrew prayer book he’d purchased years earlier in New York. An inexplicable quickening within him returned.
Propping some pillows up on the bed, Joe made himself comfortable, ready to look at his discovery. He saw that it had been placed in the hotel by the Gideons. Opening it randomly, he turned to Proverbs. . .
Joseph steals the Bible and continues reading it.
The storyline thickens after Joseph accepts Christ. As he becomes more and more devoted in his walk with Christ, his Jewish mother and father reject his proselytizing efforts and even disown him. His wife divorces him. And his two sons want nothing to do with Christianity.
Another conversion story begins to unfold when Joseph brings his youngest son, Roy, to an International Convention of The Gideons International.
During his testimony at the convention, Joseph requests prayer for his son who has yet to accept Christ. The prayers of the Auxiliary then were set in motion for Roy.
Sons From Afar combines themes of mankind’s yearning to know God along with man’s need for a Savior.
It is in fact, Roy Lessin, who commissioned the writing of Sons From Afar. In a recent interview, Roy shared that it was those prayers of the Auxiliary from that International Convention of the Gideons that really began to have an impact on him and prepare his heart for God’s work.
After he came to Christ, Roy went to Bible college and eventually went into evangelism. It was during this period that he received a letter from a woman. In the letter, the woman asked if he was the same Roy Lessin that God had burdened her to pray for at a Gideon convention.
The woman revealed that immediately following that convention, she went through a tremendous time of intercessory prayer for Roy, and in response, was attacked by Satan, to the point that she became physically paralyzed.
Roy still has that letter from the Auxiliary prayer warrior.
“That’s one of my treasures,” he says.
As for his father’s coming to know Christ through a Gideon Bible, Roy says, “He was just amazed to discover ‘the Book.’ He didn’t know where else he could find one. He had no idea that you could get one at a library or buy one at a bookstore. He had become so taken by what he was reading, that he didn’t want to quit, and he didn’t know if he left it there if he’d ever see one again. That was his motivation for stealing it.”
After becoming a Christian himself, Roy and his father grew close, and Joseph actually became Roy’s Christian mentor. Roy, his father and his brother would all eventually go into ministry.
Given how the Gideons have touched the lives of Roy, his late father and the many, many people to whom they have both ministered, Roy offers some words of encouragement to Gideons:
“There’s nothing more powerful than the Word of God. There couldn’t be any more significant way for using your life for than bringing the Word of God into people’s lives.
“In a way the Gideon ministry is a hidden ministry-like the person who put the Bible in the Las Vegas hotel room, did he go home that day feeling discouraged? I’m sure there were times when that person felt like, ‘I’ve been doing this for so many years and I don’t know if I’m doing any good or not.
“But that person was faithful to see that a Bible got into that hotel room in Las Vegas. I just don’t know if that person ever found out how that Bible was used.”
We’re thankful that God has used The Gideons International to touch the Lessin family. And we’re thankful that they have gone on to spread the Gospel through their personal ministries.
Sons From Afar is available from Dayspring, the company founded by Roy Lessin. For more information, click here.