Hyman Israel Specter and family
A tribute to my father, by Robert Specter
It is hard to believe Hyman Israel Specter, my father, passed away 23 years ago. It has been awhile since I have written about him, but have thought about him often. He was the father of 6 children: 3 boys and 3 girls (I am the youngest boy). He grew up in a single parent home in Southern California because his father died when he was only 2 months old, due to the Spanish Flue epidemic of 1918.
He was an Orthodox Jew who had a supernatural revelation of his Messiah at the age of about 20 (of course, you might say all revelation is supernatural.) He went to Bible School where he met his wife, Dorothy. After he graduated he became a pastor, first in Louisiana then in Bandon, Oregon.
He then taught bible school before going to Haiti as a Missionary (my sister Debbie and I were both born there.) He built over 200 churches, a radio ministry, a bible school, and purchase a large property for AG foreign missions, in the 12 years he was there. He also pulled hundreds of decayed teeth (without a license) He would say, “I had them under my control and in my debt, and could share the gospel without resistance.” He and my mom served in one of the poorest nations on earth, controlled by a dictator and with voodoo as the state religion. Later he would share many stories of voodoo and supernatural experiences.
From Haiti he transferred to the field of Senegal, West Africa where he served about 7 years. He took over the station in Kaolack, about 100 kilometres from the capital city of Dakar. He visited villages, he practiced dentistry, he built a playground (where he gave out tickets to play in if the kids would come to church, who says bribery doesn’t work.) He was a true pioneer missionary.
While in Africa he felt the call of God to come back to Southern California to begin a ministry to his own people. So after 20 years on the foreign field, and at the age of 50, he began a new work. He started Rock of Israel, Inc. (My mom came up with the name which is from the bible and is one of the names of God.)
He began with printing literature but soon purchased a large building right on one of the main roads in Tarzana in the San Fernando Valley. The Valley boasted a quarter million Jewish population and was the home of the movie industry. Hyman began a coffee shop ministry and then a fellowship out of the property on Ventura Blvd. Later a church in Van Nuys was donated to his ministry and he moved the ministry there.
He began to send radio programs to many stations and the theme song was “The King is Coming”. I still get an occasional person tell me they remember the program. My mother passed away with cancer in 1978, and in 1979 he married Dori. My step mother was a great helpmate and care giver. (She continued working with the Rock of Israel until her death in 2017 at the age of 92!)
When he got cancer in 1992 he fought it and recovered. But it took a lot of his energy and he asked me to consider taking the leadership of Rock of Israel Ministries. When I felt led of God to move the ministry to OH he thought he would move too. But, his home, his family, his life was in CA so he said he would be the West Coast office. He remained active in ministry up to a few months before his death in 1997.
Who can say how many people in Haiti, Africa, and here in the US personally and on Radio, came to the Lord because of him. Or how many he inspired in the hundreds of churches with his testimony, or how many ministers beginning in ministry he encouraged and helped. Though he lived through the depression and was very frugal, he was the most generous person I know. Though this has been a long post, I have only given some of the highlights of his life.
I am heartened by the idea he would be pleased to know the ministry he founded is continuing to be a voice crying out to his people “Jesus is your Messiah”!
May Hyman (Homer) Israel Specter be long remembered!