After I got married I moved to the “Bible Belt” of Charlotte where most of my friends seemed to be Christians. My two best friends at the time, who were Christians, never really talked to me about what it meant to be a believer, but I could see they were still absolutely amazing women.
I thought they represented how “Christians” should be: caring, truthful, dependable, loyal and not overbearing. But for some reason I actually appreciated the absence of faith in our conversations.
One ‘Nutty’ Friend
However, I had a friend. Tammy* who I thought was a bit overbearing. We both have daughters who enjoyed playing together. One day in 2001 we began chatting about how we were raising and educating our girls. Tammy, who was home-schooling, purposefully incorporated God and the Scriptures into her child’s education. My response to her was, “This is not what the real world is all about. My daughter, Anna, will know about concrete things like reading and social studies, and we are raising her to be a good honest girl. That is what is important.”
Tammy then said to me, “Stacy, how can you think eternal life is not important?!” Well, this actually struck me as a humorous question because at that point Tammy seemed to be “ off her rocker.” I thought, “I’ll have some fun with my meshuggenah (“nutty”) friend,” as we began going back and forth about God.
I had my views and she could not sway me, but it was amusing to hear her get frustrated! That is, until I had enough. “Look Tammy,” I said, hoping to end the conversation and put her in her place. “I am Jewish and my family is Jewish, and if I ever did anything else (like accept the Messiah) I would break my family’s heart. So I’m sorry, but, that is how it is and we will just have to agree to disagree.” “Well that’s a shame,” she said. “But, you know there are a lot of Jews that have converted.” Now it was not so humorous anymore. What I heard her say was “I am sorry you are going to spend eternity in hell, but you can join my team and admit that ‘being Jewish’ is wrong.” Our phone conversation ended on bad terms. I was so mad at her that I started reading anything I could on being Jewish. “ I am not going to buy into this ‘Jesus thing,’ I thought to myself. So I bought The Idiot’s Guide to the Bible and read the entire book. At that point, I started feeling like, “Well maybe this Jesus did do some pretty amazing things, if you actually believe it at all.”
A New Testament Experience
In the beginning of March 2002 another friend invited me to her church. She explained that a Messianic Rabbi would be speaking. I accepted the invitation, and to my surprise, it was awesome. There was an amazing atmosphere of love and joy as I saw Jews and Gentiles worshiping the same God together. The Rabbi said that even if you believe in Jesus (Yeshua), you are still Jewish. Well, this was a concept that I had never even considered. It reminded me of being able to get a ticket at the amusement park for that exciting ride for which I thought I was too short. After the service I told my two friends that I was interested to learn more. Though they did not show it, they were really excited. They later told me that they had been praying for me “behind my back.” Thank God for them!
A few weeks later my friend, Mary, took me to Hope of Israel Congregation. I found the service interesting and with Passover coming up I decided to celebrate with my family. The only place I knew I could get a Haggadah that late in the season was through Word of Messiah Ministries. I called the office and made arrangements to get one. Sam asked me how long I had known Yeshua and I remember saying, “Well I don’t really know Him yet.” Miriam offered to meet with me the following week to go over any questions. That was, in my eyes, so generous and great that I eagerly accepted. That night as my family went through this Messianic Haggadah, the Lord began a work in my heart.
A Brand New Life, in Messiah!
The next day was Saturday, April 2nd, 2002 and I decided to visit Hope of Israel Congregation again. What can I tell you? The Lord continued to speak to me personally and when Sam invited those who wanted to accept Yeshua as Messiah to pray, I prayed the ‘sinners prayer.’ My life has not been the same since. Later that year, my husband found Yeshua, my daughter became a bat-mitzvah (2010) and my son will be bar-mitzvahed next year.
I am now blessed with the privilege to coordinate HOI/WMM’s Passover banquet each year. The message in the Passover is so amazing. I am blessed to be a part of something so awesome that spoke to me; and, I am so delighted to be a part of making the story available to everyone.
Our banquet sells out every year with over 500 people attending and this year we have added a special children’s banquet to help teach the story in a fun way and keep the tradition alive in our kids. Please keep reaching out to your Jewish friends, and maybe this Passover they will find life in Messiah.