As promised in last month’s newsletter, we want to continue introducing you to our missionary trainees. Stay tuned next month for the final three, John Michael and Abra M. and Bruce Rapp.

Cyril

I grew up in a secular Jewish family in San Francisco, California. I believed God existed, but He seemed distant. I always left our synagogue feeling unsatisfied. Following my Bar Mitzvah (a tradition that symbolizes the entering of a Jewish child into adulthood), I dove headfirst into hedonism.

After high school, I majored in art studio at the College of Creative Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara. Eventually, I began to wonder if there was more to life than partying. I explored various philosophies and religions, but nothing satisfied the hunger in my soul.

In 1989 I went to Israel and launched headfirst into religious Judaism. But I was still not satisfied.

I returned from Israel still hungry for God. One day, alone in a Southern Californian desert, I cried out to Him. I looked up into the clouds and saw what appeared to be a road to heaven guarded by two large angels, each with six wings. With tears of joy, I stared at this vision, filled with awe and a wonderful sense of hope.

Then something even stranger happened. In another cloud I saw a man who appeared to be dead. He had a beard and a crown of thorns on his head. I was shocked and confused. Yet it somehow got me thinking about the Messiah.

For the next four years, I tried to follow God’s Law under the tutelage of a local rabbi. I became increasingly impatient and was hungry for further visions. When they were not forthcoming I sought them through astrology, numerology, tarot cards, psychics, drugs, and New Age books.

Then in 1993, I met a Christian named Cynthia. Her relationship with my God” (the God of Israel), intrigued me, and I found myself jealous of the holiness and peace that emanated from her.

Cynthia sent me a box full of books about Jesus. Over the next couple of weeks I flipped through some of them. Then one night I had a powerful dream. An awesome, glorious man appeared. His hair was white and His eyes seemed to burn like fire. In his extended hand I saw a parchment that said in big bold letters, “IT’S TIME TO COME HOME.” I instantly awoke and felt something wonderful was about to happen.

In the morning I was reading through the prophecies Cynthia had sent. I was shocked, angry and excited all at once as it became clear that Jesus was the Jews’ long lost Messiah. I wondered why we didn’t already know Him.

I called out to Jesus for forgiveness. I accepted His sacrifice for me and believed in my heart that He rose from the dead. Finally, I knew that I had been forgiven of all my sins and reconciled to God. That is what I had been looking for all my life, a personal relationship with God. Praise God for His faithfulness and mercy.

Rhonda

I was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents of Russian and Turkish descent. As a child I heard about Jesus, but I associated Him with the Easter bunny and with Catholic “friends” who called me names because I was Jewish.

As a pre-teenager, I looked for happiness in alcohol, mild drugs and nightclubs. But deep down inside I felt empty and depressed. I tried many things to fill that emptiness. I even became an exercise-aholic, but each time the high of working out wore off, I’d fall back into depression.

In college I determined to get straight A’s to prove my worth. I studied psychology, thinking to find answers there. I put so much emphasis on achievement that anything short of perfection on my part made me angry and depressed.

During my college internship I shared an office with a Christian. She would tell me about Jesus, and though I always told her I wasn’t interested, I still listened. When I told her that I planned to attend bartending school to make some extra money, she prayed that I wouldn’t become a bartender. The first week of bartending school I had a 104¦ fever and had to drop out. When I finally did attend, despite my straight A average in college, I failed the bartending exam three times!

I met another Christian who began to pray for me, and God answered so many prayers that I knew it couldn’t be coincidence. So one day I prayed: “Jesus, if you really are who you say you are, then let me meet another Jewish person who believes in you.” Soon afterwards, I was working at a health club when I silently prayed, God, do you still love me? Amazingly, a woman who was ready to leave after her workout handed me a tract that read: “God loves you.” This woman turned out to be a Jew for Jesus. God answered two prayers in one encounter!

As I studied psychology and studied the Bible, I found that only the Bible gave me clear answers and filled me with peace. I could no longer deny Him, so I bowed my head and admitted before Jesus that I was a sinner. I asked Him to be my Lord and Savior. Now I have found a peace that surpasses all understanding.