Ever since I was a child I was guessing I was a Jew. How? It was simple: my dad couldn’t study at the university because of his nationality.
There were many other situations and people giving me this attitude to prove the fact. I remember well how ashamed I was of my Jewishness at school. When they asked me, “You’re a Jew, aren’t you?”, I passionately denied and insisted on being Russian. I don’t even know why, I just didn’t want my friends to know the truth.
Nonetheless, I spent all of my childhood attending different Jewish clubs, going to Jewish camps, and, in every possible way and with my mother’s efforts, was becoming familiar with the cultural legacy of my people. At those clubs we celebrated Jewish feasts, learned the traditions, and I will never forget how much fun we had at Purim.
By the way, my dad – Jewish by blood – didn’t think it was important. But my mom – Ukrainian by blood – was actively involved with my Jewish education and Jewish worldview formation. Jewish theme wasn’t a big deal in our family; neither did I have Jewish friends up until my teenage years.
All in all, I viewed that all as some kind of entertainment for children. I neither realized nor understood myself as a Jew back then. The realization came later – after great hardships and God’s help through those.
As a teenager I became addicted to drugs and slowly but surely was categorized as a troubled kid.
After some years of actual suffering – my own and my parents’ - a true miracle happened to me. God, whom I didn’t really know, released me from my addiction, as well as from all the consequences there were after taking drugs. It happened in a very simple way: my friends invited me to a Baptist church service. I don’t know why, but I went. At the service I pleaded with God for help. And He answered! I could overcome my addiction and believed in God. My life started to change rapidly and radically for the better. I finished a rehabilitation course in a special center. To make a long story short, I started living as a believer. Interestingly, my Jewishness began to emerge again.
Everybody told me how cool it was to be Jewish.
I was asked to pray for Israel at services. I received invitations to celebrate Shabbat. And I don’t know why, but all of that annoyed me greatly. I was oblivious to what it had to do with me. I was invited to concerts of Jewish music and dances so I could relate to my culture more, but again, my response was negative…
And then I made a trip to Israel. Together with a group of youth I studied history and culture of Eretz Israel, introducing myself to my background, so to speak. Amazing things were happening inside me during the whole 10-day trip. I was experiencing unbelievable intimacy with God and this sense of identification with my people. I started pondering what it meant for me, what my people meant for the Lord, who, in fact, happens to be its Creator. While other guys on the group were having a “proper vacation” at discos with alcohol, I couldn’t stop thinking and praying for Israel, Jewish people, its calling… and my heart was coming to life. All of a sudden, I realized that the God I believed in was Yeshua HaMashiach - first of all, the Messiah for the JEWS. I cannot fully describe that feeling – but I felt the ache that’s inside the Father’s heart, the ache for His Jewish children. I “woke up” spiritually – took a new look at everything around.
After the trip I couldn’t explain my unquenchable interest in everything Jewish. I began rereading the Scriptures, and as I was doing that, new understanding came. I started viewing the Word of God as the Word addressed to the Jews, especially Brit Chadashah. On my coming back with no doubts left, I started attending the Messianic congregation – because I already believed in Yeshua. I felt like I belonged at Shabbats, Jewish feasts, events, youth gatherings. It’s been three years now, but this sense of belonging only deepens. I’m happy and just know that I’m right where I should be.
As for me, the Jewish Messianic congregation is the true family. And it’s my personal desire for the Jewish youth to come back to the family, to know their background and traditions, to know the One who died for them and rose again. My desire is for boys and girls to become the people they were created to be, to find the meaning in life, and to meet the One with whom they can live their lives happily and productively.