By Mark Ellis —
American nanotechnologist and computer science professor James Tour has spoken at every major university in the country, produced over 650 research papers, and holds 120 patents. Growing up Jewish in New York City, he thought everyone shared his faith and was surprised when he met a born again Christian in college.
“I thought everybody was Jewish,” he remarks on a One For Israel video. “I didn’t even know there was anything else.”
He seldom attended synagogue, except when his friends had their bar mitzvahs. “Then I would attend every week, but there was never really any excitement for me.” He attempted to ask a rabbi questions about Judaism, but felt like the religious leader brushed him off.
Later, as he studied organic chemistry at Syracuse University he met Christians for the first time. “They said they were born again Christians, which was sort of an odd term,” he thought.
What’s born again? What do you mean, born again? Tour wondered.
One fellow student, who happened to be a Christian, cornered Tour in the laundry room and asked if he could show him an illustration of the Gospel.
The student drew a picture of two cliffs facing each other, with a chasm in between labeled “sin.” There was a man standing at one cliff’s edge, wondering how he would cross the divide. God was on the other side.
Tour reacted when he saw the gorge called sin, “I’m not a sinner,” he protested. “I’ve never killed anyone. I’ve never robbed a bank. How could I be a sinner?”
Then his friend read a verse from the Bible: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
In modern Judaism Tour never heard much about sin and didn’t remember the subject ever being discussed in his home.
Then his student friend turned to another passage, when Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Anyone who looks upon a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Immediately Tour felt convicted. “I felt as if I had just been punched right in the chest. Here I was new in college and I didn’t think anybody knew…I was addicted to pornography.”
How could Jesus, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, know the real condition of his heart? Suddenly Tour realized he was a sinner.
How am I going to get to God? he wondered.
As a Jewish person, he was aware of the sacrifices in the Law of Moses, that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
At the urging of his friend, he began to read the New Testament. “I started to realize how Jewish the New Testament is. This book is so Jewish! It’s all around Jewish people,” he recognized.
One night Tour sat alone in his room, pondering the Scripture. He finally grasped that Yeshua-Jesus is the one who died on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins.
“Lord, I am a sinner, please come into my life,” he cried out.
Then something extraordinary happened. “All of a sudden someone was in my room. I was on my knees and I opened my eyes. Who is in the room?
“Jesus Christ stood in my room,” he recounts. “This amazing sense that God, Jesus, was in my room and I wasn’t scared. All I started doing was weeping. The presence was so glorious because he was in my room on that day and I didn’t want to get up. And this amazing sense of forgiveness started to come upon me.”
After basking in the presence of Messiah Jesus, Tour finally got up from his knees. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to tell. As a Jewish kid from New York City. What am I going to say?”
His cousins were shocked when he shared the news. “How could you do that?” they asked. “You’re Jewish!”
After he told his mother, she said, “I don’t blame them for killing Jesus after the things that he said. Who is he to come against the religious leaders who dedicated their lives to helping people and to tell them they are whitewashed tombs? Who is this young man in his 30s to say this to these scholars? He got what he deserved.”
Many years later, Tour encouraged his mother to read the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament. One day not long after that she called him on the phone. She said, “Jimmy, you wouldn’t believe what happened…”
“I was just reading and it hit me. It hit me, the way he gave his life. I believe it now. This is the Son of God!”
The power of the Word and the Spirit transformed her heart, just like her son’s heart.
Tour has extensive accomplishments in his field. “I was voted the R & D Magazine Scientist of the Year. I am in the National Academy of Inventors, started seven or eight companies. We work in areas that range from medicine to material science to electronics, computer memory, and medical devices…”
“But more than any of that, what means the most to me, is that I am a Jew who believes that Jesus is the Messiah.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
To learn more about One for Israel, click here