Before I came to know Jesus as my Lord, I was many things. I was an artist, a shopkeeper, a homeowner, a druggie and a groupie. I hung out with artists and musicians in nightclubs, submerged in drugs and alcohol and worse. Being an artist, I found this Bohemian lifestyle attractive. I always wanted to be on the outside, on the fringe.
Outwardly I was very cool,” but deep down inside I had a terrible loneliness—a deep, aching sadness. I had a close circle of friends, but they could not fulfill my real need. “Get married!” my family told me. That was no help.
I would have liked to have found refuge at the Jewish Community Center with something familiar, with my own people, but I would not allow myself that option. I thought that God was for weaklings and social misfits, and I was “cool.”
In those days my motto was, “I saw it, I wanted it, I bought it!” Often I would talk with another artist friend about our self-indulgent lifestyle. My friend felt guilty, but I didn’t. I wanted to be free, to please myself, and I thought that as long as I didn’t hurt anyone else, I could do my own thing. I didn’t realize that what I thought was freedom was the real cause for my sadness.
Eventually my friend became a “Moonie.” Some of our mutual friends were shocked by his descision. They started to look into the New Testament to find ways to prove that Rev. Moon’s claims were not true, and I started to hear things I had never heard before. I had grown up in a Jewish home, and we had never spoken of the New Testament or of Jesus. To me it had been a non-issue.
Now, however, I found myself particularly moved by the story in Luke 18:35-42 about Jesus and a blind man.
Then it happened, that as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.”
I understood why this man felt he had to call out to Jesus, even though people were trying to make him stop. He was desperate. He had nothing to lose. I was beginning to feel that way myself. I wanted to learn more about Jesus.
Two books helped me to discover who Jesus of Nazareth was. The first was The Greatest Story Ever Told. It is the story of the life and ministry of Jesus. As I read it, the butterflies in my stomach told me, “This is important,” but I did not know how important. After reading the book, I knew that Jesus was the Messiah for whom my people had been waiting. I did not realize that Jesus could be my Savior. I didn’t know that I needed one!
The second book that helped me was the story of a Jewish man. It described how he had come to know that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. It told of his realization that he was a sinner and that Jesus had died as an atonement for his sins. I had never heard of a Jewish person believing that Jesus was the Messiah. I did not know that the Messiah had to die for the sins of all of us. Because of this story, I, too, realized that I was a sinner in need of a savior. As I finished reading the book, I prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to take control of my life, and He did!
Unknown to me, a Christian friend had called the branch of Jews for Jesus near my home in Washington, D.C. A few days after I made my prayer to God, I met with a Jews for Jesus missionary named Peter Rice. Together we confirmed my commitment to the Lord, and we began to meet to study the Bible.
I felt immediately at home at the Jews for Jesus weekly Bible study. I began to grow in my faith, and I started to volunteer my time at the branch. Peter would often take me with him to hand out broadsides.
Bob Mendelsohn, the director of the D.C. branch, gave me the opportunities to redirect my artistic talents to serve and glorify God. He gave me assignments to design gospel tracts, a T-shirt and even a parade float to spread God’s word.
Because of my faith in the Messiah Yeshua, He has given me new life. He has kept loneliness from my door and given me joy instead of sadness.
I have just finished my first semester of missionary training with Jews for Jesus. I have been stretched in ways I never thought possible. I have been used for God’s glory up and down the island of Manhattan. King David once said, “One generation shall praise thy works to another” (Psalm 145:4). That is what I would like to do all my days. I think that would be very “cool!”