January 19, 2011

TESTIMONY OF KAREN GOLDMAN SMITH

MY HEART WAS DEAF

I am a complete Jew! The Lord saved me even before I was aware that there are other Jewish believers in the world.

I was brought up in a very reformed Jewish home. My family faithfully celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter, and Rosh Hashanah. Our Christmases consisted of a large family dinner and dozens of presents but nary a mention of a Messiah. For some reason, my parents considered Christmas trees and lights too "Christian" so we never had them, which deeply disappointed me since I loved to decorate the Christmas trees at school. Our Easters consisted of sleeping late, dying eggs, egg hunts and more food. We celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a feast but did not observe Yom Kippur at all.

We never went to the synagogue except for Bar Mitzvahs. Even for that we used to come a half-hour before the service ended, just in time for the fabulous smorgasbord spreads. Sorry, I don't know the Yiddish word for Bar Mitzvah luncheons; that just proved how little we practiced Judaism! My mom never even made chicken soup and dumplings chopped liver and other Jewish dishes except for the holidays.

I have been deaf since birth. I attended Tucker Maxon Oral School from pre-school through the sixth grade. We were taught how to lipread and speak. Because the principal was a fundamentalist Baptist, the school was practically a Christian school. We had morning prayers and prayers before lunch. We had Bible classes once a week. We had religious annual Christmas pageants. My parents hated the Bible classes but they did not wish to remove me from the school since it was the best deaf school in Portland. I really enjoyed the Bible classes. I read the children's Bible from cover to cover. I used to play Sunday school with my dolls. I loved the story of Jesus and wished it was true, but alas, Jesus was for Gentiles only. Unfortunately I experienced a little anti-Semitism from my classmates. They teased me and the few other Jews, because we did not believe in Christmas and Santa Claus, and because we did not go to Sunday school. This confused my conception of Christianity.

When I was 11 years of age, the fundamentalist principal retired, and a Mormon replaced her. He stopped the Bible classes. I soon lost all interest in religion.  Prior to beginning at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, my mom warned me that the school was full of Jesus freaks. I told her not to worry, for I did not run around with hippies, religious or not.

I was sometimes lonely at college. Many of the people were afraid to get to know me at a less superficial level because I was deaf. However, many of the Christians went out of their way to be friendly with me. They also preached the Gospel to me. I politely told them that Jesus was for Gentiles only. They patiently persisted in preaching the Gospel. I wanted to have an open mind to others' viewpoints, but refused to believe since I assumed Christianity was only one of many religions.  One of my friends, Linda, invited me to the campus Christian fellowship. I agreed to go just once. It was a dark, rainy night. I slipped 5 times on the way to the chapel. That scared me, as it felt spooky or supernatural.  To my relief there was no teaching that night because the leader was sick. We just had sharing and rap sessions, which I enjoyed. No one pressured me. Another friend, Nick, told me that he cried when Jesus entered his heart which impressed me, so I ran up to my dorm room and whispered, "Come to me, Jesus. For a few minutes I felt exhilarated and believed, but then the tempter snatched away the freshly sown seed in my heart. I started feeling phony so I pushed all thoughts of Jesus out of my mind.  However, a tiny root remained.  In the meanwhile, I was often unhappy. I had problems with my family and was extremely worried about my future after graduation. But after I rejected Jesus things went from bad to worse. I read Carlos Castaneda, an occult author who wrote Journey to Ixtlan and other books describing his adventures as an apprentice of a Mexican sorcerer. He described death as a shadow lurking behind your left shoulder, ready to pounce without warning. Death could also take the form of a driverless car's headlights in the night, which made me too scared to drive. I was also scared to sleep alone at night.

I read Jung's Man and Symbols, which described an esoteric rebirth process, for I was anxious to know the purpose of life, and what happens after death. I desired to be reborn and start afresh, but did not know how. One night I had a dream in which "l was born again." I was being cradled in a tree being swayed by a gentle breeze, near the sea. The tree's giant leaves softly enveloped my body. Then I saw a flashback of myself at 2-3 years of age climbing some steps at a Rocky Mountain National Park.

A short time later, I bought the Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey out of curiosity at a supermarket. I loved science fiction and futuristic books. I kept putting off reading it, but the Holy Spirit drew me towards it. I hungrily read the book in one evening. Lindsey's somewhat dull account of the 100% accuracy of the Old Testament prophecies bored me until I noticed the accuracy of Ezekiel's prophecy of the regathering of Israel after two thousand years of Diaspora (dispersion). That really struck me! So I began wondering if Jesus' claims were valid.  It occurred to me that I had never investigated this for myself. Here's the prophecy of Ezekiel 38:8...  After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.

The next day after classes ended, I visited a friend whom I had not seen for a long time. She told me about her faith in Jesus. I replied, "I'm thinking it over," so she gave me Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall and the Gospel of John. I was too self-conscious to accept Jesus right there, so I left for the library where I was to meet my dad who was picking me up. Just as his car pulled up I took a deep breath, "Jesus, I don't know whether you are real or a myth, but come into my heart." I wondered if anything would happen. No fireworks danced before my eyes. No trumpets sounded (yes, I can hear trumpets). I just knew the reality of Jesus (Yeshua), his forgiveness of sins, and my salvation. I had not even touched the New Testament but I remembered one verse from Revelations 3:20:  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I shall come to him and dine with him and he with Me.  The date: February 14, 1974 Valentine's Day.

A couple of weeks later, I met Moishe Rosen, the leader of Jews for Jesus, at my college. That is when I found out there were many other Jewish believers, (Mispochech, which means family). This may be the end of my testimony, but my salvation marked the beginning of my life with Yeshua HaMashiach.  © Copyright 2008. Karen Goldman. All Rights Reserved.

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