Editor’s Note: This testimonial of Antony Simon’s journey to faith and life of service to the Lord was written prior to the tragic car accident which took his life May 30, 2017.
Marv Rosenthal, Executive Director of Zion’s Hope, has affectionately – and quite accurately – referred to Tony Simon as a modern-day John the Baptist.
And for good reason.
Tony, a Zion’s Hope missionary in Israel, is uncompromisingly bold when it comes to sharing the Gospel of Jesus with both Jew, Gentile, Muslim, Arab, and anyone else with a listening ear.
“I cannot picture not telling people about Jesus,” he said. “From the time I became a believer, I knew that I had to take the Gospel to everybody.”
However, things were not always this way for Tony, who was born into a Jewish family in Manchester, England.
“My parents were ‘traditional’ [rather than orthodox] Jews,” he explained. “They were members of an orthodox synagogue, and attended [only] on the [high, holy] holidays. Some members of the family went on a regular basis.”
For the Simon family, that was their extent of adherence to Jewish practices.
“My family [Tony’s parents are divorced; he has two sisters] didn’t keep the Sabbath, but neither do most Jews in England,” Tony said. “About the most we can say is that we didn’t eat pork or ham.”
However, Tony’s parents did think enough of their faith to send their son to Hebrew school.
“It was very ‘Jewish.’ The students had to keep their heads covered all the time [with a ‘yarmulke,’ or skullcap].”
Tony attended Hebrew school until age 11, and then began a secular education, which he continued until graduation. He then followed the same course many young British and American Jews take: an extensive visit to Israel. One of the most inexpensive ways to do this is to live on a kibbutz – a collective community – where residents stay without having to pay rent, but must contribute to the life of the community by working.
“I was told there were missionaries on the kibbutz and that they might try to convert me,” Tony said. “I shared a room with a man from the United States who snored like a train, and I couldn’t sleep at night, so we did an exchange. That man moved out, and a Christian man moved in.”