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From the Synagogue
to the Savior's Knock at the Door
How in the world did Emily, a teenager from an entirely Jewish family, lose her head and abandon her roots and follow Jesus Christ? Good question.
For a good part of my life, I viewed Jesus as a lunatic at best, the person to blame for all of the problems that Jews faced and the past and still do. I wished that Jesus had never been born, so that Christianity wouldn't be around and there would be a lot more Jews in the world. This was my opinion of the so-called "Son of God" for twelve years of my life.
But God sent me so many signs and visions to say otherwise. Mainly, they were in a span of a year, but there were some signs that I received when I was as young as five. I remember when I was riding on the bus from school one day. Across my street is a Catholic college, and near the road is a large, wooden Cross with Jesus' body cut out in the middle. On the top part of it says, "He is Risen". When I was on the bus and saw the Cross, I smiled. Though someone could argue that I only smiled because I was home from a long day of school, I believe it is one of those double meaning, forshadowed events. I smiled at my future that day.
It was these signs that made me see how much God wanted me to follow His Son. These signs scared me to death, because it was that clear, that inevitable. I denied it at first. I tried to rationalize it. But God is patient and awesome. He understood that it would take some time, and He waited for me. When I finally accepted the Truth, two very important questions formed.
1. How on Earth will I tell my parents? And when?!
2. Which denomination?
At first, I thought that I would wait years before I told my parents. I ended up waiting weeks. My dad is an Atheist and really didn't care, but he did wish me luck on my journey. To him, all religions are fake. My mom, on the other hand, says continually that she will never be okay with this. Of course, I expected this, since she's into the culture of Judaism, even if her belief of God is more of a "that of goodness within us all" rather than the loving and just God of the Bible. She also forbade me to do anything but pray and go on "religious websites" on AOL.
Even these she only grudgingly agreed to, saying now and then, "I do not feel comfortable that you are praying to Jesus," or "The great grandparents in Heaven are rolling in their graves. They're asking for their money back." But I still tried to research some denominations of Christianity. The two that I seriously considered were Baptists and Catholics.
Somehow, my instincts were telling me to avoid becoming a Baptist. My memory kept flashing back to the time when my Confirmation class at my synagogue visited two churches as part of our mini study of the differences between Judaism and Christianity. We visited a Baptist church and a Catholic church. When we visited the Baptist one, I felt uncomfortable and waited ferverently for the service to end. The minister kept preaching about salvation and how God would always forgive us if we turned to His Son, no matter how late. Even though she didn't go into a speech about what would happen to the unsaved, she preached enough about Jesus' Love and how perfect He was that I wanted to scream and leave the church with my hands over my ears.
The next service was a Catholic one. Though it was not there that I devoted myself to Jesus, I did experience something there. Maybe it was how similar the format of the service was, at times, to my synagogue's. But I feel that it was something higher, like God was standing right there, trying to get through to me. In the service, the priest was talking about the Pope's Apology, and was somehow trying to tie it into how we all make mistakes. He mentioned St. Peter a lot, and, of course, my whole class and I had almost no idea who he meant. But the priest mentioned something that strongly questioned my beliefs. While preaching his sermon, he mentioned that in the Bible, God actually spoke to Jesus' followers and said that Jesus was His Son, and to listen to Him.
This was what started to get me thinking.
A) Christians were right and all of the time spent in the past trying to convert Jews really was out of concern for their souls,
B) Christians were following a misguided text, possibly distorted and filled with lies to give them false faith, and Jews hadn't converted because somehow they understood this.
God showed me that it was the first choice: Jesus proved Himself by fufilling over 300 prophesies and performing LOTS of miracles. Those who didn't join Him were either Pharisees or hadn't seen Him and lacked faith.
Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. I knew that I was not meant to be a Jew, not meant to spend my life in synagogue or saying the hebrew blessings over the candles every Friday night. God didn't want me to go back to the holidays completed by Jesus. He wanted me to choose the right Path, and to, with His help, walk out of the dark and follow the hard and narrow trail to Heaven. For sixteen years, I had lived away from God. It was time to embrace the Truth.
Last spring, around late May, I understood what God wanted for me. Although I had many unanswered questions, many doubts, and fears, I saw that I could never forgive myself if I didn't try to follow Jesus and His teachings for the rest of my life. I was sitting on my bed, thinking of this, filled with fear. I took a deep breath, and climbed down from my bed. I looked around, scared that my parents would see me.
I remembered how one of my favorite books was Jo Napoli's (sp?) The Magic Circle. It was a story about the witch in Hansel and Gretel from the witch's point of view. In Napoli's book, the witch was once a pure woman, called on by God to fight demons. She was tricked by demons, but was redeemed in the end. She used a amethyst to draw a magic circle so that she would be protected in her battles with the demons. Sometimes, I would pretend to draw my own circle, protecting me from the evil spirits that I half believed in. This time, though, the name of Jesus would be my shield, my hope.
No one was in the hallway. My heart began to beat, quicker and quicker. My right hand shook as I brought it up to my face, preparing to make the Sign of the Cross that I had seen myself make in visions. I touched my head. Part of me screamed in terror.
"It's not too late! You didn't make it yet! You can still turn back!"
I ignored it. I finished making the Sign of the Cross. As I made it, I accepted inwardly the truths that I had scorned for my life:
I am a sinner. I have been one since birth and will die one. Jesus died to save the world for their sins, me included. Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Savior of the world. He is the Son of God. He was born of the Virgin Mary and rose on the third day.
I felt relieved. I was reborn. The Sign of the Cross was a wonder to me, and I now understood what Jesus had suffered to give us a chance at Eternal Life. We all deserve to go to hell, but with Jesus we actually have a chance at spending eternity with God. I was filled with awe for Him. When I read the Prophesies on a site that Jesus fufilled, I was full of wonder that He would do all of this, just for us. I still struggle with the enormity of it all.
The next question was which church to choose. Even though I was leaning toward the Catholic Church, some websites and people were telling me very clearly that Catholics were unsaved idol worshippers who believed in unbiblical ideas. Sometimes I would think that I found the convicting proof that Catholicism was the right path. I started to pray the Rosary.
But soon after this, a person would send me an IM or email, sometimes a former Catholic, saying that they had seen the light- through Protestantism. I prayed to God, begging for the Truth. I didn't want to go to hell because I had chosen the wrong church! But it seemed that Satan would have my soul no matter which way I went. I sometimes cried at night, terrified of hell. How would I know what God wanted for me?
God is so amazing! He showed me how to know that the Catholic Church was the True Church. As Jesus said, He would never turn someone seeking Him away. I had been foolish to think that even for a minute. The Sign of the Cross that I had made each day following my spiritual conversion (as I call it), that I had seen myself make in visions, kneeled on the floor of a church before statues, seemed to be a continuous sign that I was supposed to be a Catholic. That sign that Catholics use so often is ignored by Protestants.
After seeing this, everything else became clear. This is what God wants for me. In a little more than six years, I will be able to go to church, get baptized, and do everything else that I am prevented from doing right now. The day I enter the holy Church will be the happiest day of my life.
Please thank Emily for sharing this thoughtful account of her journey to Christ's Church!
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If you like personal witnessing and testimonies like these, you'll be touched by many of these true stories!
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