Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7,8 (ESV)
Growing up in a conservative Jewish home was a unique experience. Outside of the synagogue, we were the only Jewish kids in the neighborhood. Our parents brought us to synagogue every Sabbath. We learned from an early age what was expected, how to worship the most Holy One and look towards the coming of the Messiah. My own journey was different than the rest of the family, a search for the knowledge of God and the elusive Messiah.
It was while sitting in my Economics class that a friend, Wendy, invited me to join her and others to play volleyball. The problem, the invitation was for Friday night, the Sabbath. After much thought and asking God’s forgiveness, just this once, the invitation was accepted. Wendy picked me up just before sundown and I and my “guilty heart” jumped into the car and off we went. We passed the school, we passed the YMCA, and as we rolled up into the parking lot of Bethany Bible Chapel, I remember looking at Wendy and saying “hey, you tricked me, you didn’t say we were going to church.” Wendy’s response was “there’s an underground gymnasium where a bunch of us play.”
To my utter astonishment, there were several of my schoolmates on the volleyball court. An hour later, the ball dropped. Literally! Their youth leader, Bob Handwerker, came in and said, “time for Bible study.” My thought, “What! You’ve got to be kidding me?” Instinctively, the walls went up to not hear and observe a thing. And yet…
It seems the adage is true, where Christian’s gather, there’s always food. These Gentiles were not kosher and so while they ate and drank and laughed, there I was sitting to the side just watching, checking them out, who was real, who was not. Eight months later, I was still attending synagogue, still seeking a personal relationship with God, and still looking for the coming of Messiah. Having graduated from Hebrew
School, serving as president of United Synagogue Youth, and dating a rabbinical candidate, I was still sneaking off to those volleyball games.
An invitation went out for the youth to enjoy a day at a water park over in Seaside Heights, NJ. Joining in the fun, one of the many times down the
waterslide, I lost control and hit my head and was briefly knocked out. Later on, we returned to the chapel, but I was not feeling well. Having
been in only three rooms of the chapel, somehow, I found myself in the sanctuary upstairs. Walking to the center aisle, I turned around and saw
two verses up on the platform: John 3:16 and Romans 10:9.
Suddenly, pages of scripture, Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah flashed before my mind’s eye. Each passage pointed to
this Jesus Christ. At that point, I cried out to God and asked that He might forgive me for my blindness, my hard-heartedness, and my
sinfulness. You could say that this was my “Paul” moment on the road to Damascus.
My decision not to share this conversion experience was short-lived. Eventually, Wendy and I went home and at one point she said, “let’s talk.” So, sitting on the stoop outside my home, she asked me a question. “Have you ever considered Jesus Christ?” That is all she asked. My
shocked look must have really thrown her. She sat back as I then related my experience.
I distinctly remember her sharing a precious verse with me that to this day is shared with everyone the Lord gives me the privilege to lead to Himself: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10, ESV). Can you imagine?! If God was willing to pay that high a price, think how valuable each man and woman must be in His sight! This is why there is such rejoicing in
heaven over each sinner who repents.
Of course, there is more to the story. While reading the scriptures at home, the Lord confronted me about baptism. A very telling action for a Jew. This was that outward demonstration that I now belonged to Jesus Christ, the Lord, my Messiah, and everyone would know. Shortly
thereafter, my family disowned me. And yet God…
I soon learned that there was another Jewish believer like me. You read his testimony a little while back. Larry Kramer gave me encouragement and hope at a time when it felt like I was all alone. One of the elders at Bethany and his wife, Charlie and Marie Myers, took me under their wing. They fed me, housed me, and taught me what the family of God is all about: love, compassion, understanding, and hope.
And so, life went on. I went to the local college. Then attended Emmaus Bible College and embarked on quite an adventure. Yet, in the
passage of time, although my family had disowned me, my mind and heart said: “keep calling.” And so, every few weeks, I would phone my
parents and inevitably, they would disconnect. Until…
Through a series of circumstances, I was compelled to write my testimony for the family. We went on that journey from God’s promise to Eve, right on through to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. King David’s description in the Messianic Psalms and right on through to Malachi. The truth was there to be seen. The Lord Jesus Christ had fulfilled all those promises! I recall writing at the conclusion, specifically for my parents, that they were loved and that the completion of my faith through accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah was just that, the completion of what God intended all along for His chosen people. If only they would seek Him.
A short time after they received my letter, a phone call came to Emmaus Bible College. One of my professors informed me that there was a phone call for me down in the lobby. To my surprise, Mom was on the line with an invitation to come home. God, and God alone! The Lord worked things out for His good. He made me who I am today through those experiences. One thing alone, I know that my Redeemer lives, and it is He whom I love and serve.
Finally, for those who may think they are wasting time sharing God’s Word. You are not. His Word NEVER returns void (Isa. 55:11).