When World War Two ended, many soldiers returned to their wives, settled in newly constructed suburban communities, and began the peacetime business of raising families. My parents were no exception. My father returned from the Navy, and my parents settled in Overbrook Park, a small Jewish community in Philadelphia, PA. My sister Lisa was born in 1946. I followed on October 20, 1948. Finally, my sister Robin was born in 1954. We were part of the “baby boom” generation of the late forties and early fifties.
My early years were fairly normal, a kind of a page out of the “Wonder Years” television program. I attended the public elementary school in our community, and participated in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. At the age of eight, I began attending Hebrew school at our community synagogue in order to obtain a Jewish education and in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah. My community (and my family) practiced conservative Judaism. We observe the religious traditions and holidays of our Jewish people, but had no knowledge of the personal God of the Bible. Throughout my childhood years I was extremely inquisitive, often asking my father and my teachers, “why” “what if?” Sometimes the answers satisfied me. More often, they seemed incomplete. I rationalized that my lack of understanding was a symptom of my young age. When I grew up, I reasoned, I would be wise like my father and understand the mysteries of life. As I completed my junior high and high school years, I did not realize that the frustration that I felt over the incompleteness of my understanding stemmed from a serious flaw in my upbringing. I was never taught by my parents, in public school, or, ironically, in Hebrew school that God was real, personal, and the answer to my deepest questions and longings.
Upon graduation from high school, I began attending the University Park campus of Penn State University. Away from home for the first time, I became lonely. My loneliness was exacerbated by my lack of understanding of my education, my life, and of life in general. Why was I miles from home, taking courses that did not answer the same questions that I had been asking since elementary school? My unfulfilled inquisitiveness grew into a gnawing emptiness in my life. None of my endeavors or relationships gave me true fulfillment. I also was not very pleased with myself. I realized that I had shortcomings that I could not overcome by my own efforts. I guess you might say that I had a spiritual “hole” in my soul, and nothing that I tried fit. Everything seemed to rattle around and hurt.
Like many of my contemporaries in the late sixties, my search led to experimentation with drug. I foolishly mistook sorcery for spirituality. I tried marijuana, LSD, and other psychedelic drugs that were purported to give one greater spiritual insight. At first, drugs seemed enjoyable and enlightening (sin does have pleasure for a season, and Satan does appear as an angel of light). However, before long my drug experience became frustrating and unfulfilling. I was doing poorly in school, my relationships with my family members were strained, and I was unable to stop using the drugs that were threatening to ruin my life. Having committed sin, I became enslaved to sin. I found myself trapped in a downward spiral of drug abuse, guilt, fear, and futility. I packed my clothes and my bleak future and went home.
Fortunately, God had planned something better for me than self-destruction. He brought a young Jewish couple across my path who told me that Yeshua was the Messiah of Israel and of all mankind. Most importantly, they told me, He was my Messiah. They shared with me the prophesies in the Tenach concerning His birth, death, and resurrection. They also showed me the New Covenant Scriptures regarding His claim to be Messiah, the Son of God. They suggested that I search the Scriptures myself and ask God to reveal His truth to me.
As I read through the Bible, I met a man unlike any I had met. No man had had ever spoken like Yeshua, or done the things that He had done. The Bible described my situation perfectly. I was like a sheep that had gone astray, turning from God and attempting to live by my own wisdom. The result was failure, bondage to sin, and unhappiness. Yeshua was offering me a better way. I was burdened and heavy laden. “Come to me,” He said, “and I will give you rest.” He promised that by abiding in His Word, I would know the truth, and the truth would set me free. His promise of salvation, abundant life, and eternal life with God was wonderful. In May of 1971 I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah. He completely delivered me from drugs and from a life of futility and desperation. My relationship with Him quickly became the most important thing in my life. i praise Him for the salvation He has purchased for me with His blood. I will always be grateful to Him for the abundant life He has given to me. I especially appreciate the opportunity to serve such a wonderful God.
Shortly after becoming saved, I met a girl who had also recently been saved. We were attracted to one another, had a number of common interests, and in August of 1972 we were married. It is clear from the story of my conversion that I had a difficult background prior to being saved. My wife had also come from a difficult background. Neither of us was ready for marriage. We both should have spent time healing and maturing in the Lord before considering marriage. My wife became unhappy in our relationship and, in spite of our efforts to save our marriage, we became divorced in 1976. I believe that God does not approve of divorce on the grounds of incompatibility, but my wife did not agree and chose to leave. We have a daughter, Karen, who is thirty-one years old and is born again. Karen and I have a beautiful relationship.
After becoming saved I returned to school, and in 1977 I received my B.S. in accounting. Then, after working in public accounting for about a year, an opportunity opened up for me to go into business for myself. I had always enjoyed exercise and physical fitness. When, in 1979, I was given the opportunity to open a health and fitness club, I took it. I enjoyed the fitness industry and especially enjoyed working with people to help them achieve their goals. I was in the fitness industry until 1987. By that time, the business had changed. Because of the proliferation of large chains of fitness clubs, it was no longer feasible to operate a small establishment such as mine. I sought the Lord’s will for opportunity elsewhere, and in 1987, the Lord opened the door to a teaching position at a small business college in Philadelphia. I had always enjoyed teaching the Bible at my congregation, and had often been told that my gift was teaching. I accepted the position and found that I enjoyed teaching very much. I taught at business schools and in public school (as a math teacher) from 1987 until 1997, During that time, I earned my Master of Science in education from Saint Joseph’s University.
Throughout my experience as a believer I have always been active in my local messianic congregation, and have had a particular burden for the Jewish people. I find great blessing in sharing the gospel with the unsaved, and have led a number of people to the Lord. I have also found fulfillment and blessing in teaching and preaching the Word of God to my fellow believers. In 1997 the Lord spoke to me dramatically and unequivocally, calling me into full time service for Him. I moved to California, where I attended Talbot Graduate School of Theology, and earned a Master of Education in Christian Ministry and Leadership. In 1998 I began working for Chosen People Ministries as a missionary. In January 2006 I will have been with C.P.M. for eight years. I have found my work as a missionary, teaching and preaching God’s Word to be very rewarding. In October of 2004 the Lord gave me a wonderful wife. Nina is a great help to me not only in my personal life, but also in my ministry. We believer that, in His time, the Lord is calling Nina to also be in the full time ministry.