I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I grew up in Orange County, California. My family attended synagogue regularly, and my parents sent me to Hebrew school in preparation for my bar mitzvah. At 13, in that ceremony I accepted responsibility for my actions before God and the Jewish community. In Hebrew school I didn’t learn a lot about the Bible, but I became aware that my people had a history of being persecuted. This made me defensive about anti-Semitism and protective of my Jewishness. I believed in God, but I didn’t know how to have a relationship with him.
My introduction to Jesus came when I was 10. I was living in Miami Beach, Florida, at the time, and everywhere I saw billboards that said, I found it!” I learned that it meant people had found Jesus. Soon our family car bore a clever answer—a bumper sticker that said, “We never lost it!”
Throughout my high school years I had two friends, Connie and Beth, who often told me that I needed Jesus to save me from my sins. “You need Jesus!” Connie said one day. “You’re Jewish, and Jesus is Jewish!” Beth added, “If you died today, you wouldn’t go to heaven!” “Jesus is the only way to heaven!” Connie continued.
I was rather annoyed at this point. I wondered why I let myself sit through this conversation and many others like it. I told my friends that as a Jew I didn’t need a middle-man. I was one of God’s chosen people! I thought only non-Jews could believe in Jesus, and should only if they needed a crutch. Yet beneath my arguments I realized that Connie and Beth were sincerely convinced of what they were telling me. Suddenly I realized that I was arguing but convinced of nothing. Still, I had no real interest in spiritual things.
Then, when I was in college, something drastic happened. My best friend Lance nearly died in a car accident. Even more disturbing to me was our conversation following his stay in the hospital. He told me he had become a Christian. “You can’t do this!” I protested. “Religion is a crutch! You’re insecure. You’re unsure of your life. You’ll miss out on fun, and you won’t party with me any more!” He just took a deep breath and said, “I am sure! Jesus is the only answer in this messed up world. I know you don’t understand right now, but it’s true!” Because he was my best friend, I tolerated his Christianity.
Surprisingly, it was not long before Lance and I became roommates. I began meeting Lance’s Christian friends, and I really liked them. There was something about Lance and his friends that attracted me. They were so peaceful. Life didn’t seem to worry them, and they expressed love so openly and differently from anything I had ever experienced. They had something I wanted. They said it was Jesus in their lives. I became scared because I wanted to be like them, but I didn’t want to believe in Jesus.
Then something else happened. I hurt my back and was immobilized in bed for nearly two weeks. In that time I truly began opening up to the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah as Lance said. Lance showed me verses like Isaiah 53:6 in the Jewish Bible about the coming of the Messiah and his ministry: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” I was amazed that this was in my Bible! Since I had plenty of free time while I was in bed, I began reading it regularly. I began reading the New Testament, too. I found that Jesus had lived a perfect life and felt myself drawn to him. Between Jesus’ claims and the lives of my Christian friends, I was actually becoming jealous. Not only was Christianity becoming appealing, I was believing it!
I observed my Christian friends, continued to read the Bible, and even began praying, asking God to reveal his truth to me. I agreed with the Bible teachings, and God was revealing his truth to me. By the end of my stay in bed, I believed with all my heart that Jesus was the Messiah. On my last evening of being bedridden, I prayed with Lance to receive Jesus into my life. I said, “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. Please forgive my sins and come into my life and be my Savior. I want to be yours, a child of God. Thank you for dying on the cross and rising from the dead to save me.”
When I prayed that prayer, I knew it was possible for me to know God—not only from books, or from seeing him in the lives of other people, but because Jesus had come into my heart. I am thankful to God for his new covenant in Jesus that was even mentioned by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Yes, I found faith and new life in Yeshua, but I was really the one who was lost, and Jesus, the Good Shepherd, found me!