Meet our New Trainees!
Yoel Ben David
Twenty-six year old Yoel Ben David has believed in Jesus since July, 2001. Yoel was born in Rehovot (about a 40-minute drive south of Tel Aviv) in Israel. He lived in the Caribbean for one year, England for 12 years and Paris, France for three years before returning to Israel at the end of 1998. His mother is Jewish and is from Morocco; his father, who is not Jewish, hails from Scotland. Yoel speaks, reads and writes English, French and Hebrew fluently. He has completed three years of a four-year program at Israel College of the Bible.
He says, I have been interested in God since I can remember. By the time I was a teen, I was actively searching for God, reading about various religions in an attempt to know Him. One bright British day, I sat upon my bed reading the Koran in my latest attempt to find God. I suddenly felt exasperated with reading (as many 18-year-olds do) and said to God: ‘If you are real, I shouldn’t need to do all this reading, show Yourself!’ Before my eyes appeared a vision that I recognized immediately as Jesus. Instead of turning to Him, I persuaded myself that I was imagining things.
“A few years later I returned to Israel where I met my wife-to-be. As we fell in love, we also had many discussions on the issue of God and truth. I wanted to launch out on the path of Judaism and Adel joined me on that path. We eventually became a part of the Hassidic Breslov movement.
“After Adel and I were married, a lady named Judy entered our lives and challenged us to read the Scriptures for ourselves. As we read, we began to realize that the actual Bible was very different from the commentaries we had grown accustomed to reading. We decided to leave behind the rabbinical commentary because of its clear contradictions with the text of the Bible. But when I arrived at the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah, I demanded an interpretation. Judy had been waiting and praying for the right moment to tell us about Jesus. Imagine what she was thinking when I turned up at her front door saying: ‘Explain Isaiah 53 to me!’ I was shocked and stunned as I listened to her explanation of Jesus as the Messiah. I said in my heart, ‘God, if this what you have been waiting to teach me then I will believe.’ At that point, I saw it again—the vision that I’d had a few years before. This time Jesus spoke to me saying, ‘You see, you could have understood all this back then, but your stiff neck kept you wandering until now.'”
Adel Ben David
My story begins in 1978, when my parents (both Jewish) moved from Latvia to Germany. I was born a year later in Berlin. My mother died of cancer when I was three years old, so my grandmother and father raised my older brother, sister and me. Our culture at home was mainly Russian-Jewish. We spoke Russian, ate Russian food and celebrated some Jewish holidays, e.g. Passover, Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Hanukkah. Despite the occasional visits to our synagogue, both my father and grandmother claimed to be atheists.
“Over the years I became involved in eastern and New Age philosophies and religion—and then I went to Israel and met Yoel…and you’ve already read what happened. After Yoel’s talk with Judy about Isaiah 53, he came home and said: ‘Something terrible has happened! You will never believe this, but Jesus is the Messiah!’ Well, that was difficult to believe and I wanted to know more and check it out. Yoel gave me a New Testament and I started to read it. By the end of Matthew I had tears in my eyes and could not understand why I had never read this before. I believed right then that Jesus was the Messiah. Eventually I came to understand that I was a sinner and needed God’s forgiveness. Judy led me through the sinner’s prayer. Yoel and I were baptized one week before our daughter Noa was born in the hills of Jerusalem.”
Yoel has served as a team leader on Jews for Jesus witnessing campaigns in New York and Paris; he was the assistant campaign leader for our Marseilles campaign and he has coordinated and led our outreach at the festival called “Boombamela” in Israel for the last two years. Adel keeps quite busy with daughter Noa (4) and son Boaz (2) and is enthusiastic about taking as many of the training classes as possible.
Thirty-one year old Heather Blecher was born in Suffern, New York. She came to faith in Jesus in December 1991. She received her education at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama where she graduated, first with a B.S. and then an M.S. in Communication Disorders. She worked for seven years as an audiologist and was associate staff with Youth for Christ before joining our staff.
Heather says, “I was born and raised in a Conservative Jewish home. My parents enrolled me in a Hebrew day school where I learned to read and write Hebrew and to celebrate the feasts. When I was 13 years old my friends were having their Bar and Bat-Mitzvahs so I approached my father about joining a synagogue. We began attending services together. It struck me that the rabbi always spoke about God in the past tense—in terms of what He had done. I wondered where God was now, and if He knew or cared who I was. Failing to find answers I began looking for spiritual meaning in other ways. New Age culture was of particular interest to me. I became fascinated with the occult. The activities which I now understand to be demonic were physically and emotionally draining.
“My family moved to Florida when I was fifteen years old. I was depressed and angry to be torn away from my friends. I decided to be rebellious and fail math, which was my least favorite subject. Like most spoiled children I didn’t understand that there were consequences for my behavior and was shocked to find myself in summer school. There I met a Christian named Ashley. I spent a lot of time with Ashley and her family because there was something ‘different’ about them that appealed to me. One Friday night I made plans to spend time with Ashley. When we got to her house she told me that she had double booked and that she was going to a youth group meeting that night. I was disappointed but she assured me that we could still spend time together if I’d only drive her to the meeting. Once there she invited me inside. She had laid out the breadcrumbs for me, her friend who was seeking answers about God. She assured me that I could leave at any time if I felt uncomfortable and come to get her later. But I was not uncomfortable.
“I began to secretly attend the youth meetings, church and to read the Bible in bed with a flashlight. Eventually, at a concert where other youth groups attended and participated, I responded to an invitation to receive a new life through the finished work of Jesus Christ.”
Heather has participated in our West Palm Beach and Denver Behold Your God campaigns and was a team leader for our most recent New York City Summer Witnessing campaign. She is particularly interested in youth work as she came to faith as a teen.