I was born to an average Soviet non-believing Jewish family. And though we were having matsa at Passovers and hamantash at Purims (those were my great- grandmother’s specials), still it was more of a tradition than the faith practice.
Many years ago my curiosity and critical thinking got me questioning the meaning of everything in existence. When studying Science at school and then later at the university, I learned about the incredible complexity and harmony of everything around us – from the Universe to the atoms.
As a scientist I was stunned that every cell’s nucleus - the structure that is thousand times smaller than the dot left by a ball pen – is capable of storing the most detailed information of a given organism in its chromosomes. My what-is the-meaning-of-it-all quest helped me realize that the world had been created. That there was a wise Creator behind it all. That Scripture was the book authored by God Himself and thus was worthy of my attention and trust.
First, I decided to probe the religion of my forefathers – Judaism. However, I ended up with more questions than answers. I couldn’t understand why the Oral Torah had equal value with the Written one. While the Oral Torah was memorized for centuries, the written one was meticulously rewritten to the letter, word-for-word. For this reason, the accuracy of facts in both of these Torahs cannot even be compared. For another thing, the descriptions of the same Biblical events in both of Torahs differed fundamentally and sometimes were even controversial.
I also noticed that multiple Scriptures from Tanakh or the Old Testament are filled with direct indications to Jesus (Yeshua) as the Messiah (the Mashiach) for Jewish people. I was also surprised when this famous Isaiah’s prophesy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), wasn’t translated but only transcribed in the Russian edition, made especially for Judaic congregation. I started wondering: “What is it? A fear to undermine the faith or rather striving to conceal the truth?”
I was also bothered with the questions why Jews were banished from the Promised Land, and how God could let that happen. All in all, I was active in searching the answers that could reveal the true living God to me. Yet, I stopped, thinking that God would wait, while I got myself busy with other things.
Therefore, even before my acquaintance with Kiev Jewish Messianic Congregation, or Jewish Messianic faith, I was quite prepared.
I learned about the congregation for the first time when I saw the street celebration of Shabbat at Podol (historical center of Kiev). But still decided to check everything first, so I visited a couple of more Shabbats, read some articles, and listened to a few sermons.
As a result I came to understand that the Gospels are very Jewish books; that Yeshua first and foremost came to save the Jews and then the Gentiles (other peoples). I realized that the presence of the Jewish component in the church – the Body of Mashiach – is very essential to the Lord. That’s why it’s very important for Jews to come to Yeshua and preserve their national identity. This is what our Lord has been waiting for two thousand years, and this is what makes Him so happy. I accepted Yeshua as my Lord and Mashiach.
I also think (and see) that the Messianic congregation is a true home for all Messianic believers of all nationalities, and not Jews only. There you can celebrate Jewish feasts, hear Jewish music, sing Jewish songs, and dance Jewish dances, witness God’s miracles (every miracle is being sifted through and recorded).
By the way, there’s one more thing that helped me to make sure I was in the right place. I noticed that when a person comes to the Lord, He showers His “newborn child” with various good gifts. That’s how I started getting rid of excessive weight; my blood pressure normalized for the first time in 6 years; I lost all interest in alcohol. I learned about other miracles and changed lives from other believers in Yeshua; some of them I witnessed with my very own eyes at Shabbats or prayer meetings. But that’s another fascinating story….