A JEWISH BIKER'S TESTIMONY

by Glenn Harris

*****


I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Holy Bible Ro.1:16 NIV).

I was raised in a nice Jewish home in Los Angeles, California, USA. My parents were not at all religious, though we were proud of our Jewish heritage.

We went to synagogue perhaps twice a year (sound familiar?) My grandfather, on the other hand, was strictly Orthodox, and when he came to live with us when I was five (after he was widowed), there ensued a tug-o-war over the question of my religious training. My grandfather won out, meaning that, beginning at age eight years, I spent the next four and a half years going to Hebrew school three days per week after school.

In Hebrew school we learned, of course, to read and write Hebrew. But we also learned about our culture and our history. We didn't study the Scriptures at all in Hebrew School, but we were taught to always be loyal to our Jewish people, to Jewish causes, and to be very cautious about developing friendships with non-Jews. After all, they believed in You-Know-Who, and that wasn't acceptable for Jews. At age thirteen, I became a Bar-Mitzvah ('son of the commandment'), which is the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, roughly the equivalent of confirmation.

We didn't talk about God in our home, and I really didn't give much thought to the existence of God until my Senior year in High School. At that time, I became fascinated with studying the supernatural. Most of my spiritual search over the next three years took me through New-Age and occult practices and beliefs. I had three core questions that formed the basis of my quest: Who am I? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die? What attracted me about New-Age philosophy was the idea that I could be very 'spiritual' without the rigors of any commandments to be kept. No 'Thou shalts' or 'Thou shalt nots' for Glenn. Just be a 'good person' (whatever that meant). To be perfectly candid, I wanted sexual freedom without guilt (or responsibility), and I knew instinctively that 'organized religion' taught that sex before marriage was not right. I would have told you that my objections to belief in Yeshua were of an intellectual nature, but deep down I knew that was only a facade - I just didn't want anybody telling me what was right or wrong.

I entered college hoping to major in psychology. The first classes I took in psychology, however, convinced me that it was not the avenue for me. Sure, I enjoyed analyzing people's motivations and their behavior, and I did want to help people (and make a nice living), but what the classical psychologists taught about human nature flew in the face of everything I had been taught and believed about myself. I fancied myself a good person. The professors would have me believe that, in fact, I was quite depraved, and that only society's laws and customs kept people in check. Left to ourselves, we were taught, we were capable of immeasurable selfishness and savagery. So much for psychology!

I ended up dropping out of the university after just a year and a half, not having any direction at all, and not wanting to go to school just to 'bide time'. At the same time, my questions remained unanswered in the various religious groups I associated with, and the New-Age books I read didn't give any concrete answers. Was it so unreasonable to want to know what happens to me when I die? The New-Age teachers couched their answers in such nebulous language that I figured I just wasn't 'enlightened' enough to understand. In retrospect, I think they themselves had no idea, but were not honest enough to admit it. I tired of chasing after their dangling carrot.

About that same time, a co-worker named Mandy invited me to go to attend a congregation of believers in Yeshua with her. She knew I was Jewish, but that didn't deter her from sharing the truth about Yeshua with me. I, for my part, used my best arsenal of objections to try to show her how closed-minded she was, and why I would never believe in Yeshua (not in the 'Christian' sort-of way, anyhow). Besides, I did believe that Yeshua was perhaps, the greatest teacher who ever lived, and that certainly he was an 'enlightened' individual. That much I could believe without jeopardizing my Jewish identity. Still, I agreed to attend the congregation with Mandy, but I had no intention of believing any of it. I only agreed to go so that I could keep up the appearance of being 'open-minded'.

The evening we went to her congregation, I was quite surprised at what I saw: people with genuine affection and warmth for each other, this in spite of the fact that there were nearly a thousand people gathered in the auditorium. I was further surprised to see that the leader was not somebody in a cheap, three-piece suit with slicked-back hair, a 20 lb. Bible and a southern drawl. In fact, the guy looked (and spoke) like a surfer! 'How could this guy be the leader?' I wondered. And for awhile I looked around, distracted, trying desperately to find fault with anything I could - anything so that I didn't have to accept what I was hearing; namely, that I was separated from God and that Yeshua was the only way back to Him.

In the midst of my whirling thoughts and fault-finding, a voice broke in; not audible, mind you, but as real as any voice could be. This voice told me that I was being singularly unfair, and that if this talk had been about anything other than You-Know-Who, I would have been listening with rapt attention, taking notes, buying tapes, signing up for classes - the whole megillah [scroll]! But since it was about Yeshua, I was being singularly critical. This voice challenged me to be the 'open-minded' person I always boasted of being, and to give this message a fair hearing.

I agreed that I had been unfair, so I sat back and just started listening without prejudice. And at that very moment, something happened within me.

Suddenly, everything this guy was saying made perfect sense! And in the course of his talk that evening, each of my questions was answered; unambiguously and unashamedly. I realized that God created and loved me, had me here for the purpose of getting to know and love Him, and that Heaven could be my eternal destination - If...

If I would recognize Yeshua as Messiah, ask God's forgiveness for my sin and unbelief, and receive Yeshua, by faith, as my sin-bearer (much like the lambs and rams that had been our substitutes in ancient Israel, when the Temple still stood) and receive Him into my heart and life.

I may not have known much of the Bible, and I certainly didn't have any theology or doctrine under my belt; but I knew a good-deal when I heard it. At the invitation of this man, I (and maybe a hundred or so others) walked forward to make that commitment to follow Yeshua from then on.

That was March of 1981. I'm sure Mandy was as surprised as I was (and even understandably a little skeptical), that I should respond so quickly. But this was the answer to my years of searching, in vain, through so many religious philosophies. I've learned a lot since being saved - mostly how fortunate I am to know, and to be known, by God, to have a loving family, to have my name inscribed in the Book of Life, and how little I deserve any of it!

A battle with cancer in 1985 punctuated my life, but not my faith, and these years have been the best of my life.

For ten years I served with the ministry of Jews for Jesus. In 1990 I married a lovely Greek girl named Alexandra, and we now have three children, and live in Michigan, where I am a leader in a Messianic Synagogue.

My challenge to anyone who reads this, to you if you are seeking the truth, is to take the advice of King David; Taste and see that the L-rd is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him (Psalm 34:7-9). It's worked for me. So ... taste and enjoy!

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the L-RD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

... I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10).

If you have any questions about this please feel free to email me via our website, and I'll be glad to answer you. (Remember to mention 'Glenn's Testimony' in the subject line).

*****

00-06 Glenn Harris. Glenn is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shema Yisrael in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the Senior Rabbi of which is Loren Jacobs. This testimony is reprinted with Glenn's permission from http://www.born-again-christian.info/jew.for.jesus.htm. Many thanks, Glenn.