SAMUEL RESPONDS
"Speak LORD for your servant is listening!"
The story of Samuel, a Revive Israel discipleship student, as told to David Shishkoff

I made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel from Ethiopia as a young boy in 1985. My parents have been Messianic Jews since my childhood, and my father is a pastor. Throughout my entire childhood I was exposed to the faith, but I knew Yeshua only as a tradition or a religion. At age eighteen, I decided to stop all involvement with the faith. It didn't interest me. I was drafted into the army and served in an intense infantry combat unit for three years. Several close friends in my unit were killed in combat. During my service I was searching for faith, but nothing seemed genuine to me. Everything related to religion seemed to be just another sociological phenomenon. I had cut off almost all of my connections with believers, and almost everyone had already written me off as a lost cause - a rebellious pastor's son.

After my army service, I went to tour Asia, feeling as if I had been released from a cage. At this point I was already involved with alcohol, smoking marijuana and other things which were far from the faith. I had a long Rastafarian hairdo and was lost. In the east I looked for the right company but nothing seemed to quite fit. I took a little bit from many different faiths and tried to be okay with everyone. After Asia, I continued to the USA where I worked illegally for a while, and then returned to Israel as lost as ever. During a later visit to the USA, the immigration officials became suspicious of my visit. After thoroughly searching me and my belongings, they discovered that I was working illegally and immediately deported me. This was my lowest point.

My father was notified that I was being deported and inquired to locate me in different airports. Upon landing I was floored to see him there smiling with a rose in his hand. This broke me. I couldn't grasp how he could be such a faithful friend. My parents had gone through so many things with me. I used to come back late at night completely drunk.

It was late 2004 when I was deported back to Israel and my hard heart began to break. Suddenly I saw that I existed for God without even knowing why. I decided to go to the Ethiopian congregation to hear a young preacher. Out of the blue I wanted to accompany the worship team in singing. Even during the rehearsal I was singing with more inspiration than the others. I began to cry in front of the congregation, and I am someone who never cries. I had to leave the meeting because it was too strong for me.

That evening I asked God to do something to confirm that this was real. In the middle of the night I awoke with my hands raised straight up in the air. For three days my chest was physically burning. I thought that I needed to go to the hospital, but my mother told me that it was the Holy Spirit. I pointed to a Bible and remarked to my pastor father, "Abba, do you know this book is the truth?!" I began to read Genesis and at once understood everything. After the first four verses of Genesis 1, I was overwhelmed. I went outside and suddenly saw how huge the universe was and how small I was. I could see that He is in everything; He is my all in all.

An irrepressible joy has filled me since that day. I began telling my friends that I was willing to give up everything for this. They were shocked! I also told my girlfriend and God touched her. We separated, but she said that either with or without me, she would continue with God. Ever since then I have been sharing with everyone. I pray for more and more power.

Please pray for all of those who have had seed sown in their lives. I know that I want one thing and that is to share the Word of God, in grace and not in my own effort. My desire is to see a unified representation of Yeshua in Israel, in Hebrew, free from divisiveness of color and sectarian doctrine.