Meet Our Missionary Trainees
My name is Shlomy. They call me a Sabra (in Hebrew Tsabar”) which means I am a native-born Israeli. Sabra is also the name of the Israeli cactus. I was once like that thorny cactus. I was born into a traditional Jewish family and as a boy I loved it. But when I was 13, I asked God to show Himself to me because, if I could not see, I would not believe in Him. I didn’t get an answer. So I stopped believing in Him. It was very bad for my family, but it happened.
Then started a time of rebelliousness in my life. I thought only of money and success. After the army I joined the police force, then went on to private security where I earned the nickname “Rambo” (I served as Sylvester Stalone’s bodyguard when he came to Israel). All of this time, the Tsabar showed himself. But I was looking for answers anywhere: fortune tellers, cards, mystics. When they failed to provide answers, I went back to my roots in the synagogue. Even there I didn’t find answers. During this time you would not even want to talk to me. My life was a string of night clubs, bodyguarding—fights.
While I was on vacation in the north, I met a young woman who talked to me about Jesus. I remember telling her, “Don’t talk about that and don’t say His name in my presence. I’m a Jew. If you were a man I would break you in half.” But I didn’t know the Lord was working. I kept asking her questions. And she made me look at the prophecies about the Messiah—where I saw things they had never told me at school.
I struggled within myself because, for the first time in my life, I wanted to make a decision for God by accepting Jesus. But what about my tradition and my family? I struggled hard. But the Lord is bigger than anything and He gave me the grace to receive His gift and make a stand for Him. I did it! I found myself on fire for Yeshua day after day. I married the young woman who was so brave to lead me to the Lord.
A big change happened in my life. As an Israeli, I had seen how my uncles and friends died in the army. Before I knew Yeshua, no Arab could stand next to me without me trying to kill him. The Lord, in His grace, arranged for me to be baptized with a Palestinian who became my friend. Isn’t the Lord wonderful? The thorn of the Tsabar is gone for good.
Then the Lord did another thing in my life. I went on a Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaign in New York City and I came back on fire for witnessing to others. When I graduated from Bible school with my wife, Miriam, Jews for Jesus offered us a place on their staff. Isn’t the Lord good? He offered us the opportunity to share the gospel with my people and teach them our faith in Yeshua. We jumped on the plane and we are now here in training.
As I look ahead, I ask you please to pray that I can finish my studies in English. And please pray for the work in Israel with all the opposition we face there. Finally, please pray for my family, that they will also find peace and life in Yeshua.
Miriam is the woman who had the nerve to witness to “Rambo.” While she was born and raised in the United States in a non-Jewish household, Miriam is very comfortable living in Israel where she has made her home for many years. She and Shlomy recently graduated from Bible school in Israel, where Miriam says it was quite challenging for her to take all her classes in Hebrew. Now that she and Shlomy are training together with Jews for Jesus in New York, the shoe is on the other foot as Shlomy is challenged to do his coursework in English! Miriam’s prayer request: “Please do pray for our training and also that God will prepare the hearts of Israelis to whom we will return after our training.”
“I found Jesus in the Yellow Pages,” says Chad Elliott. Raised in a Conservative Jewish home, Chad became a bar mitzvah at age 13 (a religious ceremony that is a rite of passage into the Jewish community). However, he strayed from his Jewish upbringing for many years. Finally, in a state of frustration and turmoil he decided to re-establish contact with his Jewish roots. He opened the phone book to find a synagogue, preferably one that would be easy to locate. The ad said, “Messianic congregation” and “proclaiming Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah.” Chad attended and was shocked to meet Jewish people who actually believed Jesus was the Messiah. Through the story of their changed lives and a study of messianic prophecy, Chad found the case for Jesus convincing and accepted Jesus as his Messiah and Savior. Chad’s prayer request: “Please pray that my eyes will be firmly focused on the Messiah. Pray also that He will use me to help my Jewish people come to know Him.”
How in the world does a nice Jewish boy find Jesus in Saudi Arabia? Greg Rosenberg did! Like Chad, Greg was raised in a Conservative Jewish home and became a bar mitzvah at age 13. After high school, he went into the Air Force and then got a job at McDonnell-Douglas. That is how he, along with his wife and daughter, ended up in Saudi Arabia. Since no Jews were allowed in the country, Greg was told to list himself as a Christian on his work forms. However, once in Saudi Arabia, he found himself living in a community of genuine Christians and they led him to faith in Jesus. Greg’s prayer request: “For my wife, Cheryl, and I to grow together in our commitment to the Lord and to serving Him.”
“Home is wherever my head rests,” says Larry Dubin, who describes himself as having been born in Arizona, raised in Colorado and matured in the United States Navy. God used two men to lead Larry to faith in Jesus. “The first man attempted to share the gospel truth with me. The second man lived a godly lifestyle before my eyes. The Spirit of God used them both to overcome my lack of understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for me.” Larry’s prayer requests: “First, salvation for my biological father, David, an elderly Jewish man who does not know the Messiah of Israel. Second, obedience to God’s calling. I lack a helper and, sometimes, my desire for a wife causes me to take my eyes off Jesus. May I never stop looking to Him. He is the author and perfector of what I believe and what I am.”
Backflips for Jesus? Igor Ashkinazi is perfectly capable of doing them! Born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine, Igor’s parents were both Jewish doctors. Igor, however, was not interested in medicine, but in aero-gymnastics. Eventually he finished athletic college and became a Soviet champion. Later, he was invited to be an actor-acrobat in the Moscow Circus. After two years working in the Moscow State Circus, he emigrated to the United States. He accepted Jesus as his Messiah and Lord and was devastated when someone told him that by doing so, he had become a Christian. “All I knew about Christians came from experiences in Odessa. Christians hated Jewsïand now I had become a Christian. I fell on the floor crying, wracked with pain that I cannot describe. Even so, I knew that I had to follow Jesus, even if it meant becoming a Christian.” That same day Igor says, “I discovered that Jesus was a Jew, that He loved Jewish people and gave Himself for themïand that true Christians are spiritual Jews. What a joy that was!” Igor’s prayer request: “That I shall be the Lord’s good and faithful servant with the Jews for Jesus ministry; that I will truly fit here; that my wife, my children and I will become effective witnesses for our Messiah.”