The Story Continues…
The 80’s brought a lot of changes in our small family. My search for ‘truth’ caused a lot of confusion and a bit of disruption to my friends and family. Being a good ‘Christian’ just didn’t fit into my new set of ‘truths’ anymore.
What was I to do with all these ‘facts’ that were popping out of this book called the Bible? What did I need to do with those pesky sentences that said those feast days were forever…..and that I was part of Israel? It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure!
But I trudged further into those unknown waters, not knowing if I would sink or swim. And I’m still here! However, there were a few times when I could only tread water and kept my head above the waves by only the smallest measure.
One of the major events was my own conversion. I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. It was in 1983 and we were visiting my parents in Kansas for Easter. We were still attending the Catholic church, however my parents had switched to a non-denominational church as my mother had just gotten ‘saved’. It was quite the scene as we didn’t even know what that meant! However, being the dutiful daughter I was, I agreed to go to ‘her’ church – it was just her and I. She wanted me to ‘see’ my brother sing in a choir, as he too had just gotten ‘saved’. Well……I went, but I was not prepared for what happened!
My mom led the way in and of course went almost to the front of the pews. Everyone, and I mean everyone was decked out in their finest Easter bonnets – me? I went in jeans and cowboy boots and a chip on my shoulder. I can smile at it now. Anyway – this man (didn’t know what to call him since he wasn’t a priest) started preaching. I was irritated so I tried not to listen – but found myself fascinated by the lady who was doing the sign language. I had never experienced that before.
As she signed, my heart softened and I could ‘hear‘ some of the words that this “Pastor” was saying. What I remember was that he asked if anyone needed an answer from God… well – sure I silently acknowledged. Then he said if you are that person, just raise your hand … I did but it was very, very low – figuring no one could see me. And then came the kicker – he said ‘if you raised your hand, come on up to the front and let me pray for you’. Well – to that one, I almost said it outloud – ‘no way – no how’.
There was even a pretty young lady that came up and touched my elbow and tried to encourage me to go forward. I glared at her and said – ‘who do you think you are’? and I rudely shrugged her off. But the next thing I knew – I was up at the front of the church, kneeling and weeping and begging God to forgive me. I just kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’....over and over. The service ended, people left and I was still on my knees! I finally stood up, tears still flowing and the pastor came over and said ‘now that you are all wrung out, let the Holy Spirit fill you up! ‘ And boy did he!
On the way back to my mother’s home…..we never talked about it. Isn’t that strange? But that’s what happened…we didn’t talk about it and while inside I was shaking and unsure of what happened, I knew something did! On the way back to our own home from my parents – as the boys slept in the back seat – I read the bible from the beginning to my husband, out loud – all the way home! I bubbled over with what happened and couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. And that was just the beginning! When one is truly searching, doors open!
Another big breakthrough came in the late 80’s. I happened to be listening to a Christian radio station which featured an out-spoken lady who wasn’t afraid of asking the hard questions – questions that I had also been asking! She asked those questions about “Jesus” and his heritage and his culture … all a bit nerve wracking to say the least! But the kicker came when she interviewed a young Greek man who was brilliant at providing answers!
For several years I sat at his feet, soaking in all the information I could glean from him. It was an exciting time and we learned a lot of what we didn’t know. Various conferences were attended, we began celebrating the Feast Days and putting less emphasis on the traditional Christian holidays. But seasons come to an end, and that season led to another. However, what I learned from this brilliant man, I shared…and shared…and shared. Pretty soon, I was asked to teach a class on observing Shabbat at a local Christian congregation that had an outreach for Israel. I must admit, I was never so fulfilled as I was during those teaching/sharing meetings!
That first small teaching led to many others and it branched into holding my own small meetings, inviting various speakers that promoted supporting the state of Israel. My husband was such a support and integral part of it all. Without his support, none of this would have ever happened. We went to various churches and synagogues encouraging the Christians to support Israel and to the Jews that there were Christians that loved them. It was an exciting time!
After attending a conference in Washington, D.C. in 1990, for the support of Israel, I met a wonderful lady that had just written her first book – “Who Is Israel”. We are still friends today. Her book changed the direction of my search, and the final break from Catholicism. I had realized that while I could prove no ‘Jewish’ blood, I was certainly grafted into the House of Israel.
At the same time, my husband and I went to Colorado in 1991 and he attended a men’s event called Promise Keepers. It was life-changing for him and he gave his life to God at that point. It was the beginning of a new era and neither of us knew what lie ahead. But HE did!
Through the following years of the 90’s we went to Israel many, many times and met many people that served the Holy One in various ways. There was so much to see and hear and do on our trips! One trip that really sticks out to me was the time we visited a rabbi at the local Diaspora Yeshiva. A friend of ours worked for him. He had 12 children – but when we went to visit him – we were told by his oldest that he was in the hospital – and that we should go visit him!
I was very hesitant to go trapsing around Israel trying to find a hospital and introduce ourselves to a strange rabbi! But my mother insisted (we were on the trip together) and we eventually found him! In fact, he heard us when we asked at the nurses station and bellowed out his room – ‘Here I am’! We stayed and talked AND videotaped him for over 2 hours. At the end of our visit….I dared asked him a question that had been burning in my heart. I had just read Batya Wooten’s new book ‘Who is Israel’ and so I dared to open my mouth. I looked into those great big eyes and said, “I hope this does not offend you Rabbi, but have you ever heard of the lost tribes, of Ephraim?” … and he smiled the biggest smile ever and said “Where have you been?? We’ve been waiting for you!” I almost fell off my chair. There was no turning back now!