I'd like to start by saying that my testimony is evidence that it is not through wonderful believing parents that we are saved, but through personal faith and total dependence upon God.
I was born into a believing family as the oldest of seven siblings. My father was born in Israel to unbelieving Persian parents and was led to the Lord by his sister at age 22. My mother grew up in an unbelieving Jewish American family and came to faith in college.
My siblings and I were all raised hearing about Yeshua, and so, at a very young age I gave my life to Yeshua, knowing Him to be absolute truth. At age eleven, I requested to be baptized. Then at the age of fourteen I heard the voice of God for the first time.
My First Encounter With Yeshua
I remember it well, I was in the shower, Yeshua clearly spoke to me asking, "Will you follow me?" The alternative He showed me was a path straight into the pit of hell. The choice was obvious and having made it, I continued to grow gradually in His image. At the age of sixteen, I joined a new youth group in Jerusalem. During this time my faith in Yeshua really came alive and my relationship with Him even more tangible than before.
However, Yeshua was still relegated to only certain areas of my life. Although my closest friends were believers, the orchestra and jazz band that I was a part of was full of religious children who didn't know of my faith. I was ashamed of being different from my neighborhood friends and was not at all bold about sharing my faith. This pattern continued throughout my teen years. Looking back, the other fundamental problem was that I never allowed my parents to be spiritual mentors in my life. I didn't allow them to be part of my walk with God or hold me accountable and didn't have friends to do this either. No one asked me the tough questions such as, "How is your walk with the Lord?" and, "How are you dealing with girls?" The lack of these two questions combined together to set me up for a rough road.
Like every other Israeli, at age eighteen I joined the army. The IDF granted my request to serve in the armored corps tank division. Basic training began in 2001 in the Negev Desert. I found the structure, people, and culture of the army very enjoyable. After eight months I finished advanced training. By now I had drifted very far away from my believing friends. For the next four months, I went on a tour in the territories, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Excelling as a soldier in combat and leadership, I stood out among my peers and was sent to the tank commander course; I graduated at the top of my class.
Typical of most army cultures, the Israeli army environment is harsh and cynical. This is where I took my first steps into manhood and my character was shaped to be like those around me. I too became very harsh - mocking the weaknesses of others, being extremely cynical and lastly, looking at women just like the unbelieving soldiers in my unit. Let's just say I didn't regard them in a brotherly manner.
... TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT NEWSLETTER
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Daniel Juster: Rediscovering the Roots that Remain|
|Marty Shoub: Sasha - He Who Edures to the End|
|Eitan Shishkoff: A Tribute to a Spiritual Father|
|Freddy Intrater: Light to the Nations|