Marty Shoub

International Liason
Tents of Mercy Network
 
 
"'They told me not to worry, that they would pray for me and I would be free. That night as I was praying I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, "You have repented, you are free, you do not have to be afraid anymore."'"



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Michael's journey to freedom was also a journey back to his Jewish heritage: "As I got closer to God I got closer to my Jewish soul. My mother always told me to be proud I was Jewish but not to tell anybody - this was to be our family secret." Shortly after his graduation from Bible college, Michael heard the Holy Spirit speak to him again, "You are Jewish, one day you will return to your homeland." In 2008, Michael and his new wife and children made aliyah just as the Holy Spirit had promised."
 
 

Every congregation needs a great piano player. Tents of Mercy has an almost embarrassing glut of riches in this department. Since our founding, "the Maestro", Leonid Gelbit (See, "A Notable Soul", August, 2009) has been our mainstay on the keyboards. But for the last three years we have had the good fortune to add another amazingly talented keyboardist to our ranks, Michael G.

Michael comes by his musical acumen honestly. Michael's maternal great grandmother was a famous singer in her native Belgium. His paternal grandfather was also a famous violinist in his native Poland. Not to be outdone, Michael's father was a professional composer in the Soviet Union. Michael was enrolled in piano lessons at age four. Michael, "I didn't have any alternative but to learn music. I had to go to music school." At fourteen years old, Michael had grown tired of the demanding expectations of formal musical training. To the dismay of his parents, Michael informed them that he no longer wished to pursue the piano and gave up playing altogether.

After a year off, Michael began to play again, but only as a pastime. One day while casually playing the piano, the creative spirit within him welled up in a new passion and joy for music. Michael knew what he wanted to do, "I told my mother, 'I want to be a musician.' I realized this was something I wanted to do for myself not just to meet my parent's expectations. I didn't realize it at the time but it was God at work in me - He was the one who put this passion in me." Michael poured himself into music, "I played every day, 8-10 hours a day. My parents worried ... this time because I played too much!"

Michael G.
Michael continued his formal music training, completing an undergraduate degree in music and then another five years post graduate studies. During his college days Michael's musical tastes broadened beyond his formal classical training. He developed an interest in avant-garde jazz and was soon traveling the country with a jazz-fusion band. Michael recalled those heady days, "We were in our own frame, we were not going to be successful playing this sort of music, but that didn't matter to us."

In 1991, Michael's world was abruptly and dramatically turned upside down. He crashed his car and as a result lost both pinky fingers (no insignificant injury for a pianist), broke his back in three places, and had his teeth knocked out. To add to his difficulties Michael had been preparing to return to his mother's house (Michael's father had since passed away) and had packed all his valuables and documents in his car. In the ensuing car fire, everything was destroyed. This was not the worst of it. Michael also sustained a serious head injury which resulted in post-traumatic amnesia. He did not know who he was; he even had forgotten that he was a musician. His mother had no idea where he was or what had happened to him - Michael was completely alone.

As one could imagine, this was an extremely difficult period in his life. Even now, as he recounted the trauma of those days, Michael had to pause to collect himself and was reluctant to delve into the details of that painful time. During the course of his rehabilitation, the hospital arranged for Michael to move out to a small village where he could rest and recuperate. Slowly Michael's memory began to return to him; he remembered his music background and despite his credentials being destroyed in the car fire, was able to find employment as a music teacher in the village school. All this time Michael's mother had been looking for him. The police helped her track him down and after a four year hiatus, Michael and his mother were reunited.

Michael and Marc
Reuniting with family after such an ordeal should have been a great encouragement to Michael, but the trauma of the accident had left him depressed and discouraged. A chance meeting changed Michael's life again, but this time for good. Michael explained, "In 1998 I met a woman on the street, she didn't know me but she told me, 'you are Jewish, there is a connection between Yeshua and your people.' I laughed at her. To my mind this was fairly tales for children." This same woman invited Michael to her home to watch a film. Despite his skepticism he accepted her offer. "They were watching a film about Moses, I was intrigued. They had lots of Bible movies and I would continue to come back week after week to watch the films." Michael continued meeting with this small band of believers for about six months - there was a freedom about these people that attracted Michael. "I had longed for freedom my whole life, I started playing jazz because I had hoped it would bring me freedom. After my accident I had resigned to believing that there was no way I could be free - life was a struggle, the best I could do was just to survive."

Taking a chance on freedom, Michael reached out to Yeshua and repented of his sins. Michael had a genuine spiritual encounter but his depression continued to plague him, "I was still troubled, I would repent and find some freedom but then the depression would return." Michael was invited to attend a Bible college in Vladivostok. He had hoped his new surroundings and focused time in the scriptures would break his cycle of depression. Matters only got worse. Michael broke his leg and was hospitalized once again. However, this hospital stay was different than his previous one. In his lowest moment Yeshua met Michael in a life changing way.

"As I was lying in bed my room began to glow with a purple light. At the same time I smelled the most pleasant fragrance. I started to pray and began to speak in tongues. I had no knowledge about these things and thought I was going crazy. I couldn't speak about my experience to anyone but the depression was gone." After Michael was discharged he met with his friends and reluctantly told them his story. This little group had Baptist roots - they were not familiar with this sort of experience. Michael wondered if they would also think he was going crazy. To his surprise and delight they received his testimony with enthusiasm. What Michael didn't know was that his friends had had a similar encounter at the same time.

Michael still worried that his depression would return. The Bible college faculty had asked him to participate in leading worship but Michael was reluctant, "I told them, 'I am not sure I can help because I have problems.' They told me not to worry, that they would pray for me and I would be free. That night as I was praying I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, 'You have repented, you are free, you do not have to be afraid anymore.'"

Michael's journey to freedom was also a journey back to his Jewish heritage: "As I got closer to God I got closer to my Jewish soul. My family was Jewish, but all this really meant was that we could not get the best jobs or go to the best schools. My father's name was Epstein, but when he married, in order to distance himself from his Jewish identity, he took my mother's Russian surname. My mother always told me to be proud I was Jewish but not to tell anybody - this was to be our family secret." Shortly after his graduation from Bible college, Michael heard the Holy Spirit speak to him again, "You are Jewish, one day you will return to your homeland." In 2008, Michael and his new wife and children made aliyah just as the Holy Spirit had promised.

In Israel, Michael met a fellow musician who shared his passion for worship, Marc Chopinsky (see, "Yes and Amen", Oct. 2011) "My relationship with Marc is very important to me, God put us together." The Tents of Mercy family also has a special place in Michael's life. "I love the people of Tents of Mercy. My relationships here are so different than the ones I had in the Soviet Union. People are so open - I love this." As is the experience of any new immigrant, Michael and his wife have their challenges adapting to life in Israel, but he is learning what Shaul learned, "In whatever state I am to be content" (Phil. 4:11).

Looking back, we can see the grace of God intersecting Michael's life at critical moments, from rediscovering his passion for music, to even his darkest hours, he was never alone. Step by step the Holy Spirit has led him. Michael is very optimistic about the future, we believe his confidence is well founded.

By Marty Shoub
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Comments
Comments:
03:19 02Dec11 David S -
Wow, I have heard Michael play. He is an amazing musician, and it is all the more remarkable considering the accident damage he sustained. He is also a humble man not drawing attention to himself, and wanting to honor God.

06:28 02Dec11 Jill Robertson -
Michael's story is very inspiring. God gave him a musical heritage in his lineage, and trained & prepared him for the time when he could be truly free, to give that glorious talent back to Yeshua in praise and worship. No setback, no hardship can stop the purposes of God, and Michael is even more blessed for giving his life and abilities into the Lord's hands to be used to edify those around him through his wonderful music.

09:21 27Dec11 Maryke Moodie -
What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. May Hashem continue to strenghten you and use you for His Kingdom to be known.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: The Necessity of Infrastructure
Eitan Shishkoff: Let There be Light
Asher Intrater: Glorification of the Saints
Betty Intrater & Avichai: Payer, Praise and Prophecy