My name is Sharon Cohen and I am first writing on behalf of Bruce Cohen. As you will read in this story, he is unable to read or write since suffering a massive stroke nearly 20 years ago. I do have his permission to share his story.
Bruce Cohen’s Story“All I know is if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ, I would be dead”.For almost half an hour, he had listened politely as a “friend” berated him for becoming a Mormon. He had muttered a few “ums” and “ohs” to indicate that he was still listening and had not fallen asleep.I could only imagine the barrage of accusations. As a convert myself, I had heard them all before. But I watched him as he listened carefully and never spoke back. He had waited patiently for his friend to finish. He was finally able to say more than a mumble.“Well, I don’t know about all that,” he said. “All I know is if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ, I would be dead”.I was overwhelmed by the profound simplicity.I am a “Mormon”. I could learn much from this man.Here is a man who knows nothing of doctrine or creeds. He did not get caught up in the argument about who was right and who was wrong. He did not defend the Mormon Church, as volley after volley was lobbed against it. He did not confuse his friend’s attack as an attack against himself. He did not even know that it was an attack.He was secure in his knowledge of Christ.Due to an excessive use of drugs and alcohol, he had suffered a massive stroke at the age of thirty-four. He lay in a coma for months. When he awoke he had been nearly robbed of language. He was unable to walk or use his right hand. He didn’t even know his name. With therapy and time he regained mobility and developed a vocabulary that allowed for employment in menial jobs. He learned to share the thoughts that flowed freely, but captive, within his mind without the key of language.Ten years later he wanted to learn about my church. I thought he was just flirting but, just in case, I got some help from the young missionaries. I told the missionaries that this man was Jewish. I knew that he had been raised in a strong Jewish home but had wandered away from the faith as a young adult. He had recently returned to the synagogue in an attempt to find structure, stability and society.The elders came to his apartment and introduced themselves. They shook hands and took a seat.“So? Tell us who God is to you,.”“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “He’s the guy with the holes in His hands.”This man had met Christ! When no one else could understand him, Christ was there and heard him. Before he knew his own name, Christ was there and spoke to him. When he was frightened, Christ came and comforted him. When he was confused, Christ guided him. When he was lonely, Christ stayed with him. When he should have been dead, Christ invited him to live.Within weeks of that first meeting he was baptized. With all the joy of any Christian who receives salvation by stepping in and out of the water, he emerged a re-born man.He chose to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and thereby he became a “Mormon”.Is he a Christian?He “doesn’t know about all that”. He only knows that if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ, he would be dead.”
Sharon Cohen’s StoryMany years ago I met a daughter of God, an angel, who would impact my life in wonderful ways such as I would never have imagined. She entered my life mid-afternoon on Easter Sunday, 1978. I knew immediately that she had been sent to rescue me and to lead me to a higher way of life. However, though I did revere her presence in my life and knew that she was a gift from God, I continued in my wicked ways.Let me digress momentarily. I was a single woman, enjoying the sexual freedom of the 1970’s. Though told by my doctors that I could never conceive a child – it happened. I found myself single and pregnant with a “miracle baby”. I went into immediate hiding from the people who would have me end the pregnancy. I moved into a home for unwed mothers where I was encouraged to carry the baby to term. They expected that I would give the baby over to adoption. I did not. She was born during the early spring blizzard of 1978 after 36 hours of labor.Our life was a struggle beyond description. I subjected my baby, my dear infant daughter, to appalling living conditions, poverty, promiscuity and pain. I cannot help but believe that Heavenly Father could no longer tolerate my behavior as my life quickly took an incredible turn for the worse and I was forced to flee with my baby to my mother’s home in Indianapolis. I soon, however, left her home for a small hovel of my own and continued in my misbehavior. I was soon delivered of another baby girl, born with a birth defect and requiring surgeries and continual health care.I continued to spiral downward in my behavior until I was behaving in ways that cannot be described in good Christian company. When my daughters were about three and four I sent them to Sunday school with the ladies from the Church of the Nazarene who would pick them up from my home so I could sleep late.One Sunday they were returned to my home and as I always did, I asked, “How was Sunday School?”My eldest, the four year old, her face glowing with awe and amazement, recited to me how she had finally learned that morning “why He had holes in His hands.”The way that she said it – “had” – as if having seen something long before she could now say “He had”. I came to full attention and began to probe for details. “Did you get to see Jesus before?”“Yes and He HAD holes in HIS hands,” she replied with emphasis and obvious excitement. Her eyes were gleaming and her face was brightly lit.“When did you see Him?” I asked with great fear.She pondered for a brief moment and related how she had dreamed a dream the year before and it had puzzled her ever since. I asked if she could remember enough to tell me what she had seen.She said that she had seen “Jesus standing and talking with some guys.” She had learned to count by the age of the three, so the obvious question was “How many men?”She closed her eyes and squinted tightly, her little head bobbing and nodding up and down without speaking.“Twelve,” she said. Then she paused, stared into space as if contemplating the accuracy of her answer and repeated “Yup! Twelve.”“Were you there?” I asked, “Or were you like watching TV?”“Oh, it was like watching TV”, she said.“What happened next?” I hadn’t heard how she had discovered the holes in His hands.“They talked for a long time,” she said. “Then they all laid down to take a nap.”“Even Jesus?”, I asked.“Nope. While the guys were sleepin’, Jesus went down and brought back all the other peoples.”While I was trying to pull my mouth up out of my chest, she continued to tell of the dream. “Everybody was sleeping when we got there. But after awhile everybody started to wake up. They got to go up and talk to Jesus.”The next question seemed to leap into my mouth. “So,” I began “were you there? Or were you like watching TV?”“OH!” she said with a look of wonder and awe crossing her face. “Oh, I got to talk to Him! I got to touch the holes in His hands and the hole in His side.”You could have heard a pin drop in that carpeted room when she stopped talking. It took a few moments for me to digest the import of her words. Eventually, I was able to speak again.Having complete understanding of what she had been privy to witness, I queried, “So? Was Mom there?”Her answer was a quizzical, “I don’t know…. I think so…. Maybe.”I was stunned. I knew that visions and dreams were sometimes given to select individuals to redirect their lives or the lives of others around them. Did I straighten up my life right then and there? No, of course not. Her story echoed frequently in my ears for about a year and then, she suffered unexplained seizures and “died”.The man I was living with revived her. I called for an ambulance and she continued to receive additional care by the ambulance workers who arrived within moments. She stopped breathing at least three more times during the ride to the hospital. She stopped breathing in the emergency room when I went in to see her. They had put her on life support systems until she was stabilized the next day. She was released in perfect health within five days.Did I finally straighten my life up right then and there? I didn’t know how. But slowly, tentatively, I began to choose the better part. I searched for a church where I could be taught of Christ and learn to walk in His ways. I made some wrong choices in that search, which are amusing to look back upon now. But, within three years I had found and embraced the restored gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized.