Life was a mystery to me when I was growing up. As a child we observed the Jewish traditions and holidays at home. In Israel people are either Orthodox, traditional, or secular. To be traditional means to observe the holidays and traditions, but it doesn’t mean to acknowledge God. Our family kept the traditions but left God out of the picture.
I was born 25 years ago in Kiriat Haim, near Haifa area. My parents, both deaf, divorced when I was two years old. My two sisters and I were then sent to different foster homes. I was educated in the Jewish traditions by my foster parents.
When I was 16 years old, I went to live in my mother’s house once again. Then, when I was 18, I went into the Israeli army. I took my three years of service seriously, guarding a big warehouse where military equipment was stored. When I was released from the army I returned to my mother’s house. Soon after I traveled to Acco for the Feast of Tabernacles—Sukkot. I was there on business, selling vacation time-shares when I met a believer in Jesus whom I will call Steven. He was witnessing about Yeshua to the Israelis attending the yearly festival.
I stood with Steven on a busy street corner as he explained the Gospel to me for over one and a half hours. He said that the Messiah had come and His name is Yeshua. I told Steven that I did not know who Yeshua was, but that I had heard stories about His many miracles and that the Christians believed in Him. Our conversation was very friendly and ended with a handshake.
Steven had given me a book, Why Me, by Yakov Damkane, a messianic Israeli believer. I eventually read the book but was not convinced and put it to the side.
A year later one of my friends became interested in Orthodox Judaism. I remembered Yakov’s book and re-read it, underlining key points to show my friend. But the truth of what I was reading began to open up to me. God revealed Himself to me from the pages of that book, in spite of my objections.
I found myself drawn to this man Yeshua. I began to understand what He had done for me as a sinner. Yeshua the Messiah was the piece of the puzzle that was missing in my understanding of God.
I contacted Yakov Damkane at his phone number in the back of the book. I told him that I now believed in Yeshua. We prayed together and I received Yeshua as my Lord and Savior. Yakov took my phone number and told me that someone would be in contact with me.
Several days later Yakov called to say that someone would be coming to visit me, and who should appear at my house, but Steven himself! God showed me that He has a sense of humor. Steven and I met together once a week for discipleship studies. I began to grow in my faith and started attending the Bethesda Congregation in Haifa.
I wanted to share the Gospel with my mother, but I only have limited knowledge of sign language. The Lord sent a wonderful deaf believer named Sarah*, and she and my mother established a good friendship. Eventually my mother prayed with Sarah to receive the Lord!
In the summer of 1997 I was invited by Efraim Goldstein to participate in the Jews for Jesus witnessing campaign in New York. We first had two weeks of evangelism training at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My English is very basic, but the Lord helped me to do better on the exams than I expected.
Most significant to me are some of the witnessing experiences I had on the streets while handing out tracts. In Chicago, I prayed with an older woman to receive the Lord. When we went on to New York, I was able to pray with many people to receive Yeshua as the Messiah. One of these people was an 80-year-old Jewish woman in a wheelchair. This experience was very dear to me.
I’ve been through both the Jews for Jesus campaign and Israeli Army basic training and believe me, the campaign is harder! But the Lord gave me the peace to go through it all, and I even went on a second campaign in ’98.
Before the campaign in ’97 I struggled over what I would do with my life. Through that summer experience the Lord showed me that He wants me to be a full-time missionary. After the ’97 campaign I moved to Tel Aviv to begin studying at the King of Kings Bible College, and I moved in with my father. The Lord used Sarah and another deaf believer, Robert*, to lead my earthly father to accept Yeshua.
The year I spent at the King of Kings Bible College helped me to gain more theological knowledge to use in evangelism. Now, as I get my practical training in New York as a Jew for Jesus outreach worker, I look forward to the future when I will return to Israel as a full-time witness for Yeshua. Life is no longer a mystery to me, for I know what He has called me to do, to be a light to my people.
* not the real name