I'm a Jew.

I grew up in a fairly orthodox Jewish family in NW London, and enjoyed typical family life. I'm really glad to have had the love and the discipline which that involved.

In my early teens I saw that materialism was the prime mover in most people's lives and that their religious life was empty ritual - a burden rather than an enrichment. I saw this as a failing in God rather than in people and left Him out of my thinking more and more. I was studying science and was convinced that "scientists" would soon have all the answers. I dropped out of university, having become a regular user of drugs, and dropped into the "hippy" lifestyle. Science and the technologists had failed to provide me with satisfactory answers to life.

Existential philosophy rapidly replaced my Rationalist views, and it wasn't too long before I set off to travel the world. I was still searching for meaning in my life two years later when I was hitch-hiking in the USA. It was my first view of the Grand Canyon that began a chain of events which changed my life. It was the sheer size of the Canyon, nine miles across and a full mile deep, that shook cherished beliefs in geological erosion. An awareness of God - a real and living God who was able to make great mountains and chasms - grew from that point. I'd begun to think of a return to Judaism, but God had other ideas; and my path seemed to cross those of born-again Christians almost every day.

At a free hostel in Sante Fe, I was given a copy of Luke's Gospel and reading it by the roadside and in my tent, I started to find out about this strange and powerful man called Jesus. My next experience of Christians was in Springfield, Illinois, where my best friend's fiancee persuaded me to go to church with her and although I wasn't impressed by the service, I saw a life and a joy in people which I didn't have. Their purity of life and high moral standards made me feel uncomfortable and I wanted to get away.

I got away from Springfield but not away from God. I was travelling with Brian, a young Christian man from Springfield, who quietly answered my sometimes hostile questions and showed me by his lifestyle what true Christianity was like. What he had was real, that I could see, but as a Jew, even the thought of considering Jesus divine was unthinkable.

My path led to Lima, upstate New York, where I read a book called 'Who Moved the Stone?'. This book examines the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and leads to the only possible conclusion. The logic was irrefutable and the obvious question had to be faced: If Jesus's claim to rise again was true, then why should He not be the Messiah of the Jews, and Saviour of the world? That night, around the kitchen table with some other believers, I prayed and accepted Jesus as my Saviour and Lord.

I am still a Jew ... as was Jesus ... as were all the first Christians ... and I'm glad that God showed me His love in sending Jesus, the Messiah.

A Gap Year With SIM

Never seen a hippo? a mongoose? or a vulture?
Never chased a monkey off your mango tree?
Never been mistaken for a doctor, showered in the rain or been fed raw meat?
Never seen a baby born in the street, played pool without a cue or seen a bloke in a skirt?

Well neither had I until I'd been to Ethiopia! Looking back I still can't believe I was fortunate enough to spend six months in this wonderful, beautiful, crazy country!

After college I decided to take a gap year with SIM which is a Christian Charity. I was sent there with a girl called Michelle, first and foremost to homeschool missionary kids, but we also got involved in many different things as well...

One of the best parts of my time in Ethiopia was getting to know a group of girls my own age. Coming from completely different cultures, it seemed our worlds had collided and made no sense. But as we got to know each other we discovered a world of things we had in common and became great friends. At their house we sat on stools, chased chickens outside and roasted, ground and drank fantastic coffee! At our house we listened to Madonna, ate cookies and introduced the girls to western oddities like face-packs! Living in such a poor area, I was always self-conscious about our five roomed home for two compared with their two roomed home for five! Our glass windows and light bulbs; not to mention cooker, fridge and CD player! It was humbling and amazing, but somehow they didn't seem to resent us.

These six months have been a fantastic experience where not only did I get the chance to see and do some incredible things, I also got the chance to get to know my awesome God! A common prayer was "Dear Lord, HELP, Amen". Like my first day teaching English in the Ethiopian school, or being shown around the Aids hospital and orphanage and being told what I'd be doing there. All these times and hundreds more I cried out "HELP!" and each time God heard me. I've been a Christian for about eight years now, but this experience more than any other, has helped me see what a loving, faithful God I have.

If you're thinking of doing something like this then all I can say is "Go for it!"

If you want to know more about SIM gap years the email address is: info@sim.co.uk

I became a Christian at the age of sixteen. Before then I had very little knowledge of God, all I knew was that Jesus came to earth as a baby, that's all I remember my mother telling me about Jesus. The only time I went to Church was around Christmas time. Then we moved to Bordon where my sisters were invited to Sunday School.

Eventually the family were invited to a family service. We went to Church for some time and quite enjoyed the company of young people there. After the Church service the young people would go to a young peoples fellowship held in the homes of other Christians from different Churches in the area, usually around the Liphook area.

One evening at Church the pastor's wife gave a talk to the younger children reading from Matthew 24:40 "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left, two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left, therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come". When she had finished the Pastor's wife said "Don't leave it too late, ask Jesus into your life tonight". I sat there thinking "I don't want to be left behind", but as the service continued I forgot what had been said.

After the service we went to the young peoples meeting and following on from a time of fellowship it was time for someone to read from the Bible, the reading was from Matthew 24:40, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The person reading the passage said the same thing as the pastor's wife had said earlier: "Don't leave it too late, ask Jesus into your life toight".

I knew then that God was talking to me but I still waited until I got home before talking to God, once home I gave my life to the Lord Jesus, crying as I have never cried before, asking him to forgive me of the sins I had committed in my life, which were many as I had a reputation of being a "hard nut", always into fights and very aggressive.

It hasn't been easy being a Christian, my father is very "anti-God", which meant I couldn't talk to my family about my faith in Christ Jesus, until I spoke to one of my younger sisters about it and found out that she had also become a Christian but could not talk about it because of what our father would say. But with God's help we knew we could stand together.

Life was still very hard in our household, but God never promised us an easy life, but he did promise to be with us at all times. I have felt God very close to me through good times and bad, recently losing my youngest sister from cancer. It has been a very difficult time for my family and for her young children, but through all this I know that God is with me even when I have not always been able to read his word or pray, because God has given us friends to pray for us.

I give the Lord Jesus the glory, my life is nothing without him and I pray that all of my family and friends will have the same joy of knowing Jesus as their Saviour."

Psalm 8:1...

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth"

Praise The Lord.

Having attended church all my life, hearing bible stories in Sunday School and later sermons as an adult, there was always something missing.

I believed in God but had not understood who Jesus really was.

There have been ups and downs in my life and at one point I reached a low ebb with my health deteriorating and even my sight being affected. I was invited to attend an Evangelical Church and for the first time I heard systematic teaching through a whole chapter of the bible. The passage was Luke's Gospel Chapter 7 where in verse 27 it says "I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way before you." This touched my heart and was a new beginning.

The following week we learnt of the sinful woman who began to understand who Jesus was and that he knew all about her, she came to the Pharisees house, where a meal had been prepared, and washed his feet with perfume. Jesus said to her "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." I began to grasp the message.

The next Sunday the text was Luke Chapter 8, the Parable of the Sower, sowing seed in different places. It occured to me that the stony ground was my heart, would this seed penetrate my heart and mind or would is be washed away? I felt so insecure, so sinful, a failure. Not me I thought, unable to accept forgiveness.

During a time of prayer asking people to accept Jesus as their friend and saviour, Jesus appeared to me saying "Are you going to be like Peter and deny me thrice?" It was a miraculous encounter that changed my life completely, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

Jesus came into this world to help everyone who truly turns to Him; He is God's one and only Son, THE LORD JESUS.