Ken knew he was still missing something, but he never would have guessed he would find it through faith in Christ.
Ken met Paul Saber in 1987 at a charity race. They were riding in a Ferrari together, and Paul kept egging Ken to go faster and faster.
“Are you crazy?” Ken asked. “Are you not afraid to die?”
“No, I’m not,” Paul responded simply. “I know where I’m going.”
What in the world does that mean? Ken wondered.
Paul started talking to Ken about the Bible, which clued Ken in: He was stuck in a Ferrari with a Jesus freak. Ken didn’t want to hear it, so he pulled the car over.
“Look, I’m a Jew. I respect your faith, so respect mine,” Ken said. “Let’s talk about something else.”
Satisfied, Ken started up the Ferrari. As he pulled away, Paul said, “Let me tell you about my friend Jesus.”
Paul didn’t stop talking to Ken about Jesus for the next 10 years. They became best friends even though Ken still didn’t want to hear about Christianity. Ken wasn’t a practicing Jew, but he had grown up in the faith. He went to Hebrew school until he had his bar mitzvah at age 13. He didn’t have a huge desire to study the faith, but learning came easily to Ken, and he absorbed a lot about the Old Testament and Jewish traditions over the years.
Paul gave Ken a Bible and would often tell him to read certain verses from the New Testament. Ken knew the story about Jesus, but whenever he would try to read passages on his own, it didn’t make sense to him.
“It was gibberish to me,” he said.
Ken and Paul remained close. However, when Ken started dating Sethea, he felt guilty. He knew it was wrong to still be married to his second wife and yet dating Sethea. He was so torn up about it that he couldn’t bring himself to face Paul and tell him what was going on. He feared Paul wouldn’t approve. The guilt Ken felt was so strong that he didn’t invite Paul or his wife, Diane, to their wedding—something Paul still good-naturedly teases Ken about all these years later.
About four months after their wedding, Paul and Diane came to Chicago for business and met up with Ken and Sethea for dinner. They went to a French restaurant in Yorktown Mall in Oakbrook Terrance, Illinois, which is owned by one of Ken’s friends. That restaurant that would become a very profound place for Ken and Sethea.
During the meal, Ken found himself blurting something out to Paul.
“At the risk of hurting Sethea’s feelings,” he began, “I thought that marrying her was going to fill this emptiness I have inside. I feel like I have this hole in my heart.”
“I’ve been telling you what you need to do for 10 years, Ken,” Paul said. “You need to accept Jesus.”
“OK. What do we need to do? Do we need to go someplace? Do we need to build a chuppah? Should we smash some glass?” Ken responded, referring to the Jewish traditions he was familiar with.
“No, just pray with me,” Paul responded. “Are you ready to do this here and now?”
“Yeah, I’m ready,” Ken said.
Paul started praying the sinner’s prayer and asked Ken to repeat after him. Ken started sobbing controllably and didn’t know what was happening to him physically or emotionally. He describes the experience as a cloud coming over him. In the fog, he could see people and events from his life pass before his eyes—so many things started to make sense to him for the first time. He was trembling and crying, his vision clouded by tears. As they finished the prayer, Ken took a breath and looked up and saw everyone at the table was crying with him.
“I felt like the Lord took this huge weight of guilt and pain and everything off of me,” he said. “I realized why all these crazy things had happened to me in my life. It had nothing to do with me; it was all God who did this.”
Suddenly, Ken recalled an event that happened while he was still addicted to heroine. He didn’t believe that he could live without drugs, but he wanted help. He found himself locked in a hospital room, and he vividly remembers sitting on the edge of his bed watching the cars go by and praying, God, if you get me out of this, I won’t do drugs anymore.
He had completely forgotten about that first prayer until that moment. He had been living with an enormous amount of guilt from his past; he’d lied, he’d been an addict, he’d deceived people, he’d let people down, he’d lived in so much sin. He felt God telling him that he was forgiven for everything, he was loved, and he didn’t have to be afraid anymore.
“Was it the food?” he asked.
They all got a good laugh out of that and assured him it wasn’t the food.
Something monumental happened at the French restaurant that night. Ken was reborn as a Christian. Sethea’s faith was reignited. They say their marriage was truly established that night. They were going to pursue knowing Jesus together, and it was the beginning of a journey neither of them could have predicted.