More Trainees from Around the World
Meet Barry Buirski
My father was one of five Jewish brothers who had immigrated to South Africa from Poland. I was 15 years old when he died, leaving behind my mother, older brother and myself. I was devastated at a young age.
At the age of 18, I entered military service in the South African defense force. We were at war with Angola, and military training was compulsory for all white South Africans at the time.
Two years of fighting plunged me into a world of death, destruction and hatred. When I was through, I longed for some kind of truth in humanity. I tried to find happiness, peace and direction through drugs. Of course, that did not work, and I began to contemplate suicide.
But God in His mercy spoke to a friend’s heart to invite me to a Sunday evening church service at a cinema building in Cape Town. I was high on LSD when I walked into the building. At one point the pastor said, There is a young man here tonight contemplating suicide; would you please come forward?” I felt as if every person in the auditorium was pointing a finger at me. I wanted to leave the building, but my friend whispered in my ear, “Barry, he is talking to you.” I went to the altar and surrendered my heart to Jesus, who truly gave me a new beginning. Miraculously, I found myself to be free from all drug addiction.
God graciously provided me with caring believers to guide and direct me through His Word. I enrolled in Mission Church Bible College in Pretoria, South Africa, and after graduating, I served as a missionary in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Israel.
The Lord has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Melinda, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, but from a more religious background than mine. We have two precious children, Abigail and Samuel. On November 15, 1998 we emigrated from South Africa to Australia, where I served as a development representative with the ministry of Open Doors with Brother Andrew. It was in Australia that we met Bob Mendelsohn and became interested in serving with Jews for Jesus.
Meet Karl DeSouza
“There are Jews in Pakistan?!?” is the common reaction I get when I tell people I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. My father, a Catholic, was of Goan origin (Goa is a western province of India), and my mother comes from the Bene-Israel Jewish community in India/Pakistan. We moved to Quebec, Canada when I was about four years old.
Mom considered herself Jewish and never “converted” to Catholicism, though she held Jesus in high esteem. One Sunday, Dad enrolled my brother and me in Sunday School at a Protestant church so we would learn more about the Bible. Though I wasn’t raised typically Jewish, I knew I had Jewish roots, especially when our family visited our relatives in Israel. At age 16, I stopped going to church in order to find the “true religion.”
During my last year in university, I came across a TV program that focused on prophecy and Jesus’ return, and urged listeners to receive Jesus as their Saviour. My friends and I discussed these shows and as a result, one friend invited me to church. I went with some hesitation. Then I heard the music! It spoke of hope and assurance from God—things I didn’t have. Moreover, the way the congregation sang surprised me—they sang as though they had this hope and assurance.
Then the pastor spoke about Abraham and the binding of Isaac from Genesis 22. He compared this to God who gave His one and only son as a sacrifice for us. It was as if my mind was opened and I understood. My burdens were released and I had peace because I knew everything said about Jesus during that service was true. My family didn’t understand what happened to me but they recognized that I was different.
The more I heard preaching from the Bible, the more it all made sense. I heard a message on Isaiah 53, and again it was like my mind was opened and I understood.
Knowing Jesus made me more excited about my own Jewish heritage. I enrolled in seminary in preparation to serve God with my life. But just before my first semester at seminary, my faith in Jesus took a severe blow from an anti-missionary rabbi who was teaching me Hebrew. Nevertheless, I prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to show me the truth about Jesus and show me if the New Testament is truly from Him. God answered my prayers and questions, healed my faith, and squashed my doubts by confirming that Jesus is His Messiah, the Jewish Messiah, and that the New Testament is true.
I graduated from Concordia University in Montreal, with a bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Physics, and later received a Masters of Divinity from Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. My whole family has received Messiah. God has also blessed me with a beautiful wife, Kristen, a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Nathanael. I want to tell my Jewish people and the whole world about Messiah Jesus and His love. He’s forever changed me. I know I’m forgiven and have a sure hope because of what Jesus did. He’s somebody worth sharing.
Meet Sergio Danon
It was January 1981 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah when my father left home. We delayed my Bar Mitzvah at the rabbi’s suggestion. My mother sought help and support from the Jewish community, but the only place she seemed able to find comfort was at the evangelical church. Despite her Jewish upbringing, she began trust in Jesus.
We proceeded with my Bar Mitzvah on July 7, though my father had not come back to live with us. I was in no mood to celebrate. I asked my parents to give me a trip to Florida instead of a party. I escaped there for two weeks, and when I returned, my father had come home. God was in control!
But my mother quickly forgot how God had answered her prayers. Four years after my dad returned, she almost died during a simple surgery. God truly intervened in the situation. My father (who is also Jewish) received Jesus, and he and my mother began growing in their new faith. They also started to pray for my brother, my sister and myself.
One Sunday as we drove home from my grandparents’ house, my parents began to quarrel. I shouted, “Stop it!” and my father’s response was, “Let’s go to the church!” It was my first visit to an evangelical church. But it was a long time before I returned.
I got through high school with the help of one close friend. We confided and depended on one another through various struggles. When he decided to go abroad after we graduated, I felt lost and alone.
In January 1987, I had to register for the Army. I didn’t want to serve. My parents knew I was anxious and suggested that I talk to God about it. I tried to make a deal with God: if He kept me out of the Army, I would believe in Him. That was not God’s plan, however. In February, I was chosen to serve.
The Army was difficult, but I gained much through the experience. I was very impressed with a Christian friend from my platoon. I asked how he could have such peace amid all the pressures of the Army. He told me about a Bible verse that he had found to be true: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Though I was not a believer, I memorized that verse and decided to apply it to my own life. God was sowing His seed.
The Army taught me to take responsibility for myself and for my faults. After basic training, I aspired to become an officer, but had to wait six months for the training I needed to be promoted to lieutenant. This meant I couldn’t get a job. I took evening classes at university and spent my days reading. I’d grown curious about my parents’ faith. I began to read the Bible and evangelical books in secret.
Finally, I received my officer’s training. Two days after completing it, I asked my parents if I could go with them to church. Within two weeks, my sister and I received the Lord and were baptized.
As for my high school friend who had gone abroad, to my great joy he returned to Brazil four days after my baptism. He noticed the changes in me and asked, “What happened to you?! You are different…” Now this dear friend is my brother-in-law, and also a believer in Jesus. Praise God!
I enrolled at Bethel Theological Seminary in Brazil, where I graduated and was ordained for ministry. There are so many Jewish people in Brazil and throughout Latin America who need to know Jesus. My desire is for God to use me to bring His Good News to my people there. Please pray for my wife, Alexia, and our children, Israel and Gabriel, that while training in New York we may overcome language difficulties as well as climate changes. Please also pray for my brother Jacques and his wife, Patricia, that they will also receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.