Personal Testimony of Joshua Firestone
I was raised in New York City as a Jewish agnostic. The world of Darwin, evolution and MTV was far more real to me than Jesus and the Bible. My relationships were shallow and based on convenience although I did not know it at the time. There was no real deep meaning to my life. My purpose was to live for the moment and enjoy friends and family.
After college I traveled to Alaska and met a man named Art who questioned my way of thinking, challenging me to pray to a personal God. I thought he was crazy to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Intrigued, I decided to prove him and all Christians wrong and take Art’s Jesus prayer challenge. Yet if they were right, I also wanted to know. There seemed to be a stability and joy in Art’s life and the people around him that I didn’t have.
So at 23, I made my first prayer to Jesus asking Him to reveal Himself to me in a way I could understand. “Jesus, I am an honest skeptic. But if you are real I ask that you reveal yourself to me in a way I can know 100% without a doubt you are good and relevant. I have done things wrong in my life and ask you to forgive me. But if you are real and don’t reveal yourself to me, I will move on, assuming you are not there, don’t care or are not all powerful.”
The next day I dismissed Christian beliefs as well meaning and wrongheaded but ok for them to follow. Within minutes after that assumption, I started thinking about my college girlfriend. Yet shortly afterward, something started to fill the room, a warm presence, different from anything I had ever experienced. I felt it slowly come toward me, penetrating my stomach without being intrusive or violating. I sat up and moved to the edge of the bed, planting my feet on the ground so I could study this event more. A minute passed by and I felt my head, heart rate and respiration. All vital signs were normal yet I couldn’t figure out what was happening. This presence of love and joy surrounded me but my eyes saw nothing out of the ordinary. I said aloud, “what is going on here?” Unexpectedly I heard a voice reply “I am with you.” Now this voice was not audible, nor was it my “reading” or “thought voice.” It seemed to becoming from inside and outside at the same time. I was really curious to know who was speaking to me. “Who are you?” I asked. “Jesus” the warm presence filled with love replied. My agnostic mind couldn’t believe what was happening. Yet my heart knew it was true.
The next day I awoke to notice that the room looked the same, but there was that presence around me and in me, that came only the night before. As I walked to the bathroom He spoke again, “I am with you. You prayed and asked me to reveal myself to you. I am with you and now I am in you.” And the presence also made it clear that it was Jesus talking to me. So I decided I would go downstairs and tell Art and his family, not knowing what they would think or say.
Art listened and then said, “you have received the Holy Spirit of God.” I did not know that once you ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your life, He fills you with the Holy Spirit. Well, Art proceeded to open the Bible read Philippians 4:7. “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” I quickly grabbed the book out of his hands to read it for myself. Sure enough, it described what happened the night before. Later I would read from the same book that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). But for now I was just amazed that a 2000 year old book could actually predict and accurately describe what just happened to me. For years I would continue to test the Bible’s truth’s and explore this new relationship with God whom was like a father and friend to me.
Back in those days I would ask Christians of “How did you come to believe in Jesus?” They would then tell me their stories. Some spoke of miraculous healings with tears in their eyes, ie healed of cancer etc.. Now I wondered if God/Jesus could do something about my bad asthma that plagued me since I was a kid.
So I decided to experiment with my second prayer to Jesus and it went something like this. “Jesus, I know that something has happened to me. I have so many questions. Are you the only way to heaven? is there a hell? What about good people who don’t know you? Do you engage in real miracles or can that all be explained by science and the scientific method? Can you cure my asthma and if you can, would you do so for a regular person like me?”
I went to bed that night and forgot about that prayer upon waking. The next morning I habitually grabbed my oral spray medication, when I felt the presence now within me communicate the words “test me.” I remembered my prayer and said, “oh yeah, well this will be quick and I am glad no one is looking.” I took a deep breath and exhaled. No wheezing. I exhaled hard many times for as I wanted to believe, I didn’t want to be made a fool of and suddenly find myself wheezing again after telling others about Jesus. For 6 days I said nothing but breathed freely. After that time, I decided that surely something amazing was happening, and I made a decision to tell my family….
Yet the Christian road isn’t always easy and sometimes life gets rough. My family thought I was crazy and there were many times I made mistakes and had to apologize. Yet in time, people started seeing a difference in my heart, behavior and writing abilities. 3 years later my brother moved in with me and soon also prayed to Jesus. And this happened right when he was writing the legal brief to stop silent prayer in schools!
If I had to describe one breakthrough in my Christian walk, it was the practical application of learning to walk by faith in everyday living and make a difference in people’s lives. This came about because a man mentored me for three years, helping me to understand that God is the standard, and not me nor my limitations. Action guided by faith in the Lord’s character and what the Bible says, has led to joyful more powerful living, giving me hope and joy to share with others. The freedom to try new things and experiment in life has become more of a reality. And the Lord after years of praying, sent me a good woman……but if I tell that story, I could be writing forever.
Personal Testimony of Steven Barry Kaplan
I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My family lived there until I was two years old and then we moved to the South Shore of Long Island. Both my parents are Jewish, I attended Hebrew School for five years and was Bar Mitzvahed after we moved to the North Shore of Long Island. When we moved to the North Shore, my father lost his job, and it was difficult for us to afford the six bedroom four bathroom house we were living in. My mother had to go to work, and my parents constantly fought about money. My childhood was unhappy. When I was old enough, I went away to college and learned how to drink alcohol. My life was miserable. After college I started a business but was so far in debt and drinking so much that I had to close the business and take a temporary job.
At the temporary job, a co-worker told me if I didn't believe in Jesus, I would burn in hell! I thought she was crazy, couldn’t believe she said that to me, but I also thought if she was right I would have a problem. For seven months she told me Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, He died for our sins and rose from the dead so we could have eternal life. She told me He is real and personal and He wants to fill our lives with love, joy and peace.
I filed for bankruptcy and came home from bankruptcy court feeling like a failure. I cried out to God and asked Him what I was supposed to do with my life? The next day, another co-worker took me to breakfast and challenged me to read Isaiah 53 in the Hebrew Scriptures. "We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."-Isaiah 53:6 I thought this might be talking about Jesus, so I began reading the bible.
Two weeks later, on August 5, 1992, I cried out to God and asked Him if everything they had told me about Jesus was the truth? I saw a vision of two Jewish faces on my ceiling with a praying mantis in my window pointing to it. I knew the God of the Universe had spoken to me. I knew the faces represented Jesus coming the first time and then coming back! I felt this incredible sense of love, joy and peace. I started crying because I knew God had forgiven my sins and my life would be changed forever!
Shortly after meeting Jesus, I was able to forgive my father and had my last alcoholic drink on October 25, 1992.
Personal Testimony of Dr. Barri Cae Seif
I was raised in a traditional Jewish home. My father was raised Orthodox, my mother was reform so they raised us children reform. I was raised with moral values and the importance of our Jewish traditions, but there was no emphasis on prayer to God. I was taught that Yeshua was not the Messiah, that He was not born of a virgin and that He was not resurrected.
In 1980, at lunch with two business associates in my cousins' deli in Dallas, TX, the president of the firm told me that he was a Messianic Jew. I said, " A what?" as I had never heard that term. He called himself a born again Jew. I asked if that had similarity to the place that had a cross, a Star of David and a fish thing out in front (I later found out that was Zola Levitt's office.) They said yes and I asked them to tell me about it.
Over lunch, Larry, the business owner shared his testimony, and recited Isaiah 53:6 “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” Immediately, in my spirit, I knew that Larry was referring to Yeshua. He also recited Ps. 22:1 when Yeshua said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
All I can tell you is at that moment, I was born again, my spirit was born from above. The Holy Spirit enabled me to know that what those men were telling me was the truth. I asked him, "What do I do about my family?" He replied, Yeshua said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29-30)
My life was forever changed in the deli. I walked into that deli on the way to hell and I walked out of the deli on the way to heaven. Yeshua truly made me Kosher. We went back to their office, they lent me a Bible and prayed for me. I got into my car and said to God, "God, I believe this but I am from Missouri, the “Show me” state, show me this is true about Yeshua.
God began to do for me that which I could never do for myself. He showed me His will for my life. He picked me up and turned me around, He pulled me out of the quicksand onto solid ground. When I told my mom about my faith, she begged me not to tell my father, which I did not do for many years. I did not live near them, and I never sensed the opportune time, but one day I picked up the telephone and told him. Initially he was intrigued, but later hated my faith. He had me go in and speak to his Conservative/Orthodox rabbi in Kansas City, the Rabbi and I agreed to disagree.
One year after salvation, my oldest brother Scott had been going through some hard times, a job layoff found him in Iowa with no car, no means home. I asked him if there was a Bible in the hotel, he asked me "Old or New?" and I replied, "Both." He asked me if I was a believer, and he replied back, "Me too, I accepted Yeshua seven years ago at a huddle meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes!" We both cried and rejoiced. Having my brother Scott as a believer has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. My second brother, Mickey, just came to faith in Jesus last year, another great gift!