A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Converting . . .
I was raised in a non-believing family in England. Ever since I can remember, I had a love for things Jewish, but never understood why. I always had a sense that God is real—but nothing I could claim as real faith.
In 1991 I moved to Atlanta with my husband and 6-year-old daughter. Without a Green Card I could not work and so was surrounded by some Christians, a couple of Catholics, a Hindu, a Unitarian Universalist and an emptiness in my spirit that I knew could only be filled by God. But whose god?
My daughter’s new best friend was Israeli. I loved their family and their culture. I asked the mother why Jews don’t believe in Jesus and her answer, at the time, made sense to me. I made up my mind, and felt as though it was the most natural thing in the world for me convert to Judaism. In the meantime, my Hindu neighbor had left, and I mentioned in passing to my new neighbor how much I disliked Christians. To my horror, she introduced herself as—a Christian! Despite that, our friendship continued to grow.
One Saturday night I found myself knocking on her door, inviting myself to her church. It was totally contrary to everything I had planned, but Something was drawing me. Her pastor was Scottish. The music was loud and the attendees wore jeans. I was overcome with a sense of peace.
Throughout the following week I kept telling myself that I was going to be a Jew. I was going to convert—I couldn’t be Jewish and go to church! And yet, a week later I was back. This time the church had a guest speaker. He was Jewish. His name was Stan Telchin. I sat in absolute awe while this man talked about his daughter’s belief in Jesus and his desperate attempts to bring her back to his religion . . . . He went on to explain how in that attempt, he found that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. I cried and cried! God had brought me 4,000 miles to live next to a lady whose faith drew me to a church where Stan Telchin, a Jewish believer in Jesus, would speak . . . and I would find peace and reconciliation in the Jewish Messiah. Since that time, my love for Jewish people has not waned. I continue to be in contact with many Israelis. I have participated with two local groups, “Jewish believers in Jesus” and “Light of Messiah Ministries.” I have also partnered with Jews for Jesus in outreaches here as well as in Israel.
Yet I find, in my eagerness to share the gospel, that God’s timing and mine often differ. For example, this past Thanksgiving I enjoyed dinner with friends, including several Israelis. If God worked on my time-table, according to MY ideas, I would have had each Israeli in turn listening to my story and to my concise and eloquent reasons why they should believe that Y’shua is the Word made flesh, the Lamb of God, and their only hope for salvation. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to friends who were praying for that event.
So we thank God around our tables, and my inaudible conversation with Him goes something like, “OK, God, open my mouth, and I’ll share whatever You want me to. So . . . what do You think, Lord? Say the Word, and I’ll start.” When it comes my turn, what I actually say is, “I thank God for Israel, and for His promise that through Israel I, a Gentile, would be blessed . . . and I am blessed.”
Earth-shattering? Heart-stopping? Soul-wrenching? Not Even Close.
So, we eat, we laugh, we love on our Israeli friends.
I guess that’s what we were supposed to do.
Shira calls. Do I want to come to her Israeli boss’s house for dinner the following night? Can I pick her up from the mall?
Hear my time clock. Tick-tick-tick-tick. . . . “OK, Lord, so, here’s my plan for tomorrow. I play a nice Christian CD in the car . . . tick-tick . . . we transition into why we believe Y’shua is the Messiah . . .we eat . . . tick-tick . . . I share my story with the whole party . . . not to mention my impressive understanding of the Jewish Scriptures . . . tick?”
I pick Shira up from the mall. I get lost. We are an hour late.
There’s Yo-av, Rach-el (Kheli), Shira and another Israeli couple.
I have a fun night.
By eleven it is just me, Shira, Yo-av and Kheli.
Then the questions from my Israeli friends start: “How do you know Shira? Tell us about your girls. Why a Christian school? Are you ‘religious?’’’
And then the confessions:
“We’re secular Jews. We want to know God, but don’t want the religion that the Orthodox try to impose upon us. We have so separated ourselves from those religious people, but we are also far from God.”
And then my heart begins to beat in perfect rhythm with my Lord’s as I tell them that Y’shua, the Messiah, did not come for the religious, but for the prostitutes and the downtrodden and the rejects. I tell them that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
I cry and share my daughter’s story of drugs and being fatherless and her broken will and her transition from darkness to light. Kheli cries, too—a mother’s tears. Shira testifies to the love that she sees in our family. And she tells about the boy, Paul, who played Tevye in my daughter’s Christian school musical, and how he is only 17 years old and loves God—and how he told her about Jesus!
And then, Kheli says: “So, what happened 13 years ago that made you believe in God?”
And finally, I get to explain my journey towards Judaism, and my coming to faith in Y’shua through a Jewish believer, Stan Telchin, and the seed of love for all things Jewish that God had planted in me as a girl . . . and they listen, they nod and they hear.
Please pray for my Israeli friends to know Y’shua. If I have learned anything about sharing my faith with Jewish friends, it is that it takes patience and a willingness to be vulnerable. And when it comes to patience, it helps to realize that God loves them even more than we do, and His timing is always perfect.