This is a testimony of a dear friend, Sophia Abarbanell, written about 20 years ago. The title of her testimony is, ‘He is my Messiah’. Here it is in her own words.
A human life is spent in seeking satisfaction, one way or another. My life was no different. I was born to Jewish parents in Bombay, India, where I lived with my brothers and sisters. At home, like most people, I wanted love and understanding. I loved truth and tried to find it in the things I read, in people I met, in my home. When I discovered something good, I wrote it out and tucked it into a file. When I met someone who expressed a beautiful thought or action, I was overly enthusiastic. Any play, poem, or movie that conveyed the truth would stir me. I desired to find something of value that would endure. In my life I tried to express this quality of caring for what was true or right.
I sought for truth in religion. Being fairly Orthodox, our family attended Synagogue on Jewish festivals, and observed the Sabbath and dietary laws. Yet we followed the customs and prayers without seeking to understand GOD’s purposes. We read the Old Testament in Hebrew with a Hebrew master, but there was not much faith in our religiousness. It did not offer a continual source of life and strength. Life in India was good, yet as Jews we were deeply motivated to go to Israel, so after completing our education, we immigrated there and settled in Tel Aviv. Like many other immigrants flocking to Israel from all over the world, we faced problems of a new environment, different culture, and language. Finally, we oriented ourselves to life in Israel.
In Tel Aviv I continued my search for truth. As I looked about me, I saw much suffering and wrong. People desiring to realize their ambitions and only hurting one another. People covering up their faults while striving to impress one another. There was a race on, and no one was truly winning. Yet life was sacred, and there was love at the heart of it. I decided that I would give love, even if it was not returned, and even if I was deeply disappointed. It was a clear decision. Like many today, I turned to Eastern religions to find answers that could provide lasting peace. Because I suffered from a muscular ailment that weakened me gradually, I thought Yoga would help me find spiritual, as well as physical answers to my needs. I joined a Yoga fellowship where I could exercise as well as seek GOD, so they claimed, by Yogic methods. I diligently learned Yoga techniques and how to meditate.
We were taught to sit in the lotus posture, and to pray to a succession of Yoga saints, and surprisingly, to JESUS Christ and the Heavenly Father at their head. Now as a Jewish, I did not believe in Christ. His name is usually forbidden in Jewish homes, and I grew up with this teaching without seriously asking myself, ‘why’? For over a year I prayed daily to those Hindu saints and to JESUS, until the time drew near for my final initiation. At this stage I accepted what I was taught. Later I discovered the result was not to bring me in touch with the True and Living GOD, but to draw me away into a world of the supernatural where I could experience the supernatural. This is the tragedy of those who follow the mystical religions. Experiencing the supernatural is not coming to GOD. It cannot give us forgiveness of sins, or cleanse us, or give us protection from evil, and evil powers which inhabit the spirit world. On the contrary, it opened to them.
Often I feared about the future, but I continued to place my trust in GOD. Why was JESUS not recognized by the Jews? I was deeply troubled by this and now wanted to discover the truth. I sought someone familiar with the whole Bible, who could enlighten me about YESHUA, the Messiah. Miracle of miracles, I was introduced to a Messianic Jew in Tel Aviv, and began to question him about YESHUA. As he spoke, GOD planted in my heart a desire to understand what he had to say and to question him on many issues. What he said, struck a responsive cord. Read the Bible, he advised, start with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Follow GOD’s promises to all mankind which He first made to them in the form of a Covenant.
We opened the Bible to Genesis where GOD called Abraham,
Get thee out of thy country unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. To Isaac and Jacob, in due time, my friend said, GOD renewed His Covenant. We then read of His promise to King David,
I will set up thy seed after thee, and I will establish his kingdom. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2nd Samuel, 7.) This prophecy came about, said my mentor, when YESHUA’s birth was announced to Miriam by the angel, Gabriel, as the promised seed of David;
and the LORD GOD shall give unto him the throne of his father, David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
I tried to absorb these verses and to understand the meaning. Why is YESHUA not recognized by the Jews, I asked. Because their reality was so different from their understanding of GOD, he answered. They could not understand that with YESHUA’s birth and death, a new era of grace had begun. My friend left, but in the ensuing weeks, I continued earnestly to search for evidence to bear out what I had heard.
As Jews, we knew there must be a sacrifice to GOD to atone for our sins, so that we could be accepted by a Holy GOD. I read,
He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter. It pleased the LORD to bruise him. He hath put him to grief; Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. He hath poured out his soul unto death, and he bear the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53) Was YESHUA truly that ‘lamb of GOD’? I had heard about Abraham the faithful, who was willing to offer his son, Yitzchak, as a sacrifice to GOD. Now I read,
GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Then, was YESHUA that Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting so long? The more I learned from the Scriptures, the more eagerly I quested for truth about GOD in YESHUA the Messiah, who was willing to be our sacrifice, ‘corban’, dying for us on the tree in fulfilment of prophecy so we might be forgiven, not only for one person’s sins, or one nation’s, but for all people, for all time.
Such depths of love could only be from GOD. It was more than I could comprehend. Now in stark honesty, I saw myself as a sinner, hopeless and helpless, unable to save myself or be saved by anyone else, however great and mighty. With my whole heart I turned to Him in repentance, and prayed to be forgiven. By faith, I accepted YESHUA as my Saviour, offering my heart and my life. I never could have conceived the results of my decision, nor can I fully describe the joy that followed. Isaiah says it well,
With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. I rejoice in a faithful GOD who permitted me my various searchings, and Who delivered me from Yoga, so I could at last find His Truth.
There is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.