Ever since I was a small child growing up in a Jewish home in Bethesda, MD, I remember having a hunger inside to really know the truth about Jesus Christ. My family was more “culturally” Jewish than religious. We went to synagogue on the High Holidays. My parents did send me to school in the synagogue, and I was confirmed (not Bat Mitzvah’d) at the age of sixteen.
While growing up my parents allowed me to occasionally go with friends to Vacation Bible School and Pioneer Girl events at their churches. I remember helping neighbors decorate their Christmas trees, and I remember a feeling of sadness that we did not have this in our home. My father used to say to us: “Jesus was a good man, and if the world would live by His teachings it would be a wonderful place – but, He wasn’t who He said He was.”
This confused me throughout the years because it was a contradiction in terms. A good man….but he wasn’t who He said He was? That meant that he was a good man, but a liar? This is what sent me on my quest to find out the truth about this “man” who completely changed history.
In synagogue, during class, I would raise my hand, and when called on, I would ask, “Who is Jesus?” The teacher would be more than a little annoyed at me. She would say, “Shhh…we don’t talk about Him! We are Jewish!” I remember getting my first Bible in the synagogue at confirmation. Obviously, it was only the Old Testament. I would read it at night in bed…I didn’t understand it, but somehow it made me feel warm and happy just holding it.
I grew-up, got married and had children. I kept having this gnawing feeling inside that I wasn’t “right” with God, and that I really didn’t know how to raise my kids the right way. I wanted to be a godly woman – I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I did want to be a really good mom. I decided that the Catholic Church was where I needed to go to find God. A VERY old priest who began Catholic instruction with me. Each week he would not remember me! He would say, “Have we met?” I think that he was a bit senile. 🙂
I just wasn’t feeling that I was going to have my questions answered in the Catholic Church, so I quit going.
A couple of years later there was a tragedy in my family; a woman I was very close to committed suicide. I lived in a high rise apartment building when this happened. In the hallway, a couple came up to me and introduced themselves. They told me they had heard what happened and how sorry they were. They said that they would like to help us during the funeral. They wanted to make food for us and also offered to watch the kids during the funeral. I didn’t know this, but they were Christians.
After the funeral, I was so upset with God. I remember walking up and down many flights of stairs—yelling at God….asking Him how He could let this happen. The Christian couple were making us dinner and planned to bring it over. I was crying so much, and really didn’t want company, so I decided to knock at their door to get the meal. When I went in, I began to cry like a child.
Everything came pouring out of my heart. John (the husband), sat me down. He began to tell me about Jesus. He told me about His love for me. He told me about salvation. It was miraculous, because everything was so clear! I told him I wanted Jesus to live in my heart. I told him that I was ready to repent of my sins and follow Jesus as my Lord and my Savior. John led me in prayer that night.
I had searched for God for many years… He came to me that night—a night that stands alone in my memory—forever.
Geri Ungurean (My Testimony – my rebirth date January 2, 1983.)