Last But not Least… The Rest of Our 2000 Class of Trainees
Meet John Michael M
In 1938 my grandparents, Arthur and Ella, fled Nazi-occupied Vienna. Despite incredible odds, they escaped a land of death and came safely to the United States, where they would eventually meet their Messiah. You see, a German Mennonite farmer and his wife took it upon themselves to pray for the salvation of my grandparents every day—for seven years. And, praise God, He answered those prayers and my grandparents gave their lives to Jesus.
My father grew up in a believing home, and began to follow the Lord as a teenager. He always knew that he was Jewish, yet it was not a big part of his identity until his adult years. In 1974 my father went to a church and heard a music group called The Liberated Wailing Wall” from Jews for Jesus. This meeting changed his life.
From that point on, he and the rest of my family got back in touch with our Jewish roots. I was raised in a truly Jewish-believing household. When I was six years old, my mother led me in a prayer of salvation and I became a thirdgeneration Jewish believer in Jesus. However, as I got older, seeds of rebellion grew in my heart. I rebelled against my parents, my teachers, against any authority in my life, including God. From the time I was 16 until I turned 20, I dabbled in the things of the world. But the Holy Spirit remained a strong force in my heart. I lived every day of those four years feeling the conviction of my sins.
Finally I went to my knees to beg for God’s forgiveness. Within a year, I was in San Francisco as a member of The Liberated Wailing Wall—the same music team that my dad had encountered some 20 years earlier. (My sister Annette had already toured with the group.) Following that tour I met my wife Abra, finished college and spent some time working at radio stations. Both Abra and I felt God leading us into full-time evangelism and are happy to be working with Jews for Jesus.
Meet Abra E. M
Iwas raised in a Reform Jewish home; both my parents were Jewish, but neither believed in a personal God. We observed most of the Jewish holidays at home and occasionally attended a synagogue.
When I was six years old we moved. My father began acting strangely and the close bond between us began to erode. He and my mother also began having marital problems. When I was seven my father was diagnosed as schizophrenic. But as my father’s marriage and family life began to disintegrate, he was moved to call out to God. The Lord was faithful in sending a missionary into my dad’s life. He came to faith in Jesus a short time later.
By this time, my mother had insisted on a divorce and sole custody of us children. As my dad walked away from the house for the last time, he committed his family to the Lord’s care. He faithfully repeated that prayer daily for years to come.
Losing my dad left a hole in my life that I tried to fill with substance abuse and unhealthy relationships. But God had better plans for me. He sent me a schoolmate who boldly challenged me to read the Bible. I huffed and said, “I’m Jewish, so we don’t read the New Testament, only the Old one.” She responded, “Well, have you read that one?” I returned home and immediately began looking for an Old Testament (which I had never read). I had read every book in my mother’s library except one: an old Bible commentary containing passages from the major and minor prophets. The introduction to one particular passage caught my eye. A rabbi was going to great lengths to explain why Isaiah 53 had been left out of this book. He claimed that the passage might be misunderstood by some readers, leading them to an idolatrous belief in Jesus as the Messiah. I didn’t want to be idolatrous, but decided to pray that God would show me the truth about Jesus, whatever the cost.
My classmate talked me into going to church with her. For one awkward moment I stood there listening to hundreds of teens all singing together about Jesus. Then something miraculous happened. The King of the Universe whispered to me—not in an audible way, but deep inside. He told me that He would love me and fill the emptiness I felt inside. This was a revelation; that God loved me, a lonely little Jewish girl. I was so excited I nearly squealed, “God just talked to me!” But instead I quietly told God that I believed and would serve and obey Him.
A young pastor stood up and gave a clear gospel message. For the first time I understood what all those Christians had been trying to tell me. I went forward at the alter call and began a new and eternal relationship with the Lord.
Since that time, God has kept His promise to me—He’s loved me unconditionally as only He can. The Lord also restored the relationship between my father and me. God has also called me on the promise I made to Him that night. He has placed an insatiable desire in my heart to see my Jewish people saved. He has called me to serve Him as a witness to my people.
Please pray that God would use me to reach Jewish people who also have spiritual voids in their lives.
Meet Bruce and Tracy Rapp
My parents fled to the United States as Hitler began his invasion of Poland. I can still remember my mother showing my brother, sisters and me pictures of family members who were not so fortunate and whose lives ended in Auschwitz. I was only seven years old when these memories were burned into my heart and mind. I can still hear my mother weeping and saying to me, “Never forget who you are. Never forget your birthright.”
I am a Jew. I was born of Jewish parents. My full name is Baruch Chaim Yitzalk Ben Mordechi. In English, that’s Bruce Howard Ira, son of Marvin. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. My mother kept a kosher home, and every Saturday my brother and I went with Grandpa Moishe to shul (synagogue) for Shabbat services.
At age seven I entered Hebrew school and learned to read and write in the language of my forefathers. I knew nothing of Jesus, in fact I vividly recall the first time I heard His name. During the winter months it was already dark by the time I left Hebrew school, and I had to walk several blocks. During one such evening some older boys accosted me. They beat me and told me I killed Christ Jesus. I asked my rabbi about this Jesus and he waved his hand and said, “Just study your Torah portions. Jesus is not for us.”
In accordance with Jewish tradition I became a bar mitzvah at the age of thirteen.
After that, as with many Jewish boys, my religious studies pretty much ended. Years went by and I married a wonderful woman named Tracy and we had two beautiful children. I agreed to send the younger, my son Jordan, to a Christian school. I was not especially happy about it, but was even less enthusiastic about the public schools available to him. And I reasoned that at least he would learn about the heroes of the Old Testament like Moses, Noah, David and King Solomon.
It was Easter week, 1993 when we were invited to the annual Easter production at the church and school. It was a presentation of the life and times of Jesus Christ. The chapel was decorated and filled with people. As the lights went down, the pastor began to speak. He spoke about Jesus, referring to Scriptures of the Old Testament: Isaiah 53, Micah 5, Psalm 22 to name a few. My ears perked up. These are verses from the “Jewish Bible.” Could it be true? Or were they changing the words?
I could not forget what I heard that night. I began to search and read everything I could get my hands on. I found myself going to this Bibleteaching church every time there was a service or Bible study. My family could not believe it. I could not believe it, nor for that matter stop myself.
Several weeks later I gave my heart and soul to Yeshua. As for Tracy, she always believed she was a Christian, as she grew up in a church and felt close to God as a child. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and she walked away from her faith at that time. She came back to the Lord in 1988 and began to grow in Him. Tracy’s and my search coincided timewise but we were on different paths to God. Tracy began going back to church and taking the kids with her. We actually committed our lives to the Lord around the same time. I became a Co-Laborer (volunteer) with Jews for Jesus. Tracy decided she wanted to do the same a couple of years later.
Soon I wanted to be more involved. I joined the administrative staff as the director of our department of mobile evangelism, but felt that God was calling me to front-line missionary work. And here I am, training back in New York—God has brought me full circle!
Tracy has been sitting in on many of the training classses and is excited about what she is learning. She says, “While I’m homeschooling our youngest, my involvement is mainly limited to classes and much prayer. I love supporting Bruce in this ministry and will be interested to see what more God might have for me down the road. My heart’s desire is to be an outreach worker with Jews for Jesus.”