I grew up in a normal Soviet Jewish family. My parents were atheists and assimilated Jews. They taught me to be a “good person”, to believe in good and justice. And I truly loved all the “high” ideals of humanity. But beginning with the age of 18, when I first faced anti-Semitism in my attempts at entering a university, and then due to some problems in my parents’ family and later in my own family, and finally due to the developments in our country in the 1980-s, my ideals were totally ruined.
By 1989, I thought life was blue, dull, and false, so I got interested in “spirituality”; I read books on theosophy – Rerich, Klizovsky, Daniel Granin’s “The Rose of Peace”. One of the discoveries I made was that Jesus Christ was a real historical person rather than a legend of Ancient Greece as I used to believe before. According to theosophists, he was a man of the seventh level – and a Jew.
Books on theosophy were very interesting but they could not change my life. Therefore, when another difficult situation occurred in my life, I kneeled in my room and whispered, “Lord Jesus, help me!” The difficult situation got resolved very soon in an unpredicted way – and I realized that my words had been heard “up there”. I remembered very well that I had spoken them to God. I was no longer interested in theosophy but with all my heart I got interested in Jesus. I made the best and happiest discovery in my life: God is real, He is alive, and He heard me! The world around me stopped looking “blue” and my ideals were revived. Since there is a God, there must also be love, justice, and goodness – with Him! I found the “pearl”, “…like unto a treasure hidden in the field; which a man found, and hid; and in his joy he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Mt.13:44).
I began to read the books of archpriest Alexander Men (a Jewish Christian), and then the Gospel. I prayed the only prayer I knew – “Our Father”. One day, when I read of the Jesus’ execution, I experienced pain because my people had cried, “Crucify Him!” (Mt. 27:23). I knew already from what I read in the Bible that we as Jews suffer and are scattered all over the earth because of our disobedience to God, while the rejection of Jesus was the final tragedy in my people’s relationship with God. But here I felt so much ashamed that I understood that with my godless life I am also crying, “Crucify Him!”, for I have been living for myself and according to my own will. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to make me His person.
Soon we began to get free literature from Jews for Jesus. It was 1992. It was nice to get it but strange: neither my husband nor I ever met Jews for Jesus in the streets or gave our address to anyone. Therefore, I still believe it was a miracle of God, although there must be some “ordinary” explanation to it. Understanding that, on the one hand, I could not go to the synagogue because I believed in Christ and, on the other hand, I could not go to the Orthodox Church because I was Jewish, I did not go anywhere. At the age of 30, I had never heard of the existence of protestant churches. And suddenly – Jews for Jesus! This is what I was and this is what I believed in!
Their literature and invitations to Shabbats came pretty regularly. I learned a lot from their literature, especially, to understand the Good News. But I had a newborn baby, my father was paralyzed, and I felt no urgent need to start attending a fellowship of believers. It was only on January 7, 1995, that my husband Igor and I first came to the Shabbat of Jews for Jesus. There, Igor received the Lord. We were both happy to understand that the Lord had brought us to His family. Missionary Liza Terini visited us and gave us to little Bibles (one to each of us personally). She invited us to church, where in November 1995, we were baptized. The Lord did not only find us in the swamp of our sins, forgave and washed us, gave us salvation and relationship with Him, but through the Jews for Jesus ministry He put into us the realization who we as Jewish believers are in this earth and what we should do in the body of Christ.
Today, my husband Igor and I serve together with Jews for Jesus and bring the Gospel to our people. My mother, Rachel, also received the Lord in one of the Shabbats of Jews for Jesus in Odessa, Ukraine. Our elder daughter, Olga, and younger daughter, Susanna, also live with the love and faith in our Jewish Messiah – Jesus. And today, when I look back to my life, I can only thank the Lord for finding me, for changing my heart so slowly and so tenderly, and I can only pray that He would give me the ability to thank Him and to share Him with other people.