THE LESLIE DOCTOR TESTIMONY: "A Journey from Shame to Acceptance"
Introduction by Jon Lieberman: After the death of her beloved father at the age of 5, Leslie sensed an aching void in her life. Her Jewish mother and grand parents, and other family members could not priovde the inner healing that she so desperately needed. Leslie will tell her amazing story of her recovery from drugs, depression, and years of emotional pain. Leslie is one of the most sincere people that I have ever met. She is a living testimony of the miraculous power and love of God that can heal a broken life. Today, Leslie is a wife and mother of 4 lovely children, something she never dreamed could have ever happened in her life. She also gives a lot of her time to reaching out to teenagers through a coffee house ministry in Carmel called The Catacombs.
I met Leslie's husband, Gene, in February of 2000, while we were picking out Valentine's day cards at Meijers. We learned that not only were we both believers in the Messiah, but that also his wife was Jewish! I was excited to learn more about her personal search for God. Several months later my wife and I just "happened" to run into Leslie and Gene at Panera Bread in Carmel. It was at that time that I encouraged her to write her story for a book that I was writing. The following is the first draft of her story which will later be published in a book, "They Found Out the Truth."
Profession: Landscaping Business
High School: Graduated from Carmel High School, 1976
Synagogue of youth: Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation
Married: 1980 to Gene Doctor
Children: Four lovely daughters
Quote: "I am 42 years old now and I look back on those times and shutter to think what would have happened if the Lord hadnt rescued me. Im so grateful that He pulled me out of a mess and set me on His path. I havent always consistently walked on that path, but He has so patiently pursued me, compelling me to keep going on. I thank Him for not giving up on me."
Tragedy struck early in our home. In 1962, when I was only 5 years old, my dad had a heart attack, and three months later on December 15th, the day after my mothers birthday, he had a fatal heart attack. I remember a few things about him before his death, but none are as vivid in my mind as when my mother found my father in the bedroom. I went into the room with my older sister and brother and was just fixated on his lifeless body.
Since my father worked as an agent for my grandfathers life insurance business, he had adequately provided for my mothers financial welfare. We were able to stay in our home, and since our extended family was quite close, it helped ease the pain in my life caused by not having a loving protective father.
I learned that my father, who had been raised as a Baptist, had converted to Reform Judaism to marry my mother. He quickly learned the Jewish way of doing things and was very much accepted in the Jewish community. My parents and grandparents were all active members of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, and I have very fond early memories of celebrating the Jewish holidays and attending Sunday school. Most Sundays, after Temple, we visited my grandparents.
The arrival of an "angel" nanny:
Within a very short time, just 3 months after my father died, my mom asked a very nice young Catholic woman named Mary Ann to come and live with us for a while to help out with us kids. Her mother had been our babysitter. Mary Ann was very loving to us. She was young, full of life, and brought laughter into our household. Often I would come into her room to talk, play and listen to music. I clearly remember that she had a Bible with a cross that hung out of it. For some reason I was fascinated with this ornament and was always playing with that cross. MaryAnn was a bright light who brought strength to all of us and helped lift the grief from our household.
One day when I was 5 years old, Mary Ann, who was a teacher at a Catholic school, took me to her church sanctuary. I saw her kneel down, and as impressionable 5-year-olds are, I also knelt down. As I got up, I had this strong impression on my mind, sort of like an instant revelation, that God really existed and that He also had a Son Jesus. We then left the church and went to my Jewish grandparents home for dinner. Before we sat around the table, I blurted out my latest discovery. I said, "Guess what? I just knelt down to God and to Jesus!" Obviously as a naive and innocent child, I didnt understand that saying the name of Jesus was forbidden in a Jewish home. I dont remember their remarks, but I am sure, after recovering from their initial shock, they quickly changed the subject.
Early years at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation:
Almost every Sunday my mom took me to the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation for religious education. I learned to enjoy the holidays and the diverse tasty festival foods. I especially enjoyed the holiday of Purim when the girls dressed up as Queen Esther. We had a parade and ate homentachen. I also loved family gatherings at Passover. I learned at a young age that there was something very different about being Jewish. We were meant to be separated from the gentiles, and they didnt like us.
Up until the 4th grade I didnt have a clear concept of sin, of right and wrong. I did, though, love to hear the wonderful Bible stories about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the lives of the men and women that knew God personally. Then my attitude seemed to change very quickly! I can trace part of it back to my 4th grade Sunday school teacher who for some reason was very adamant about teaching us the theory of evolution. Somehow I believed that it was wrong to teach evolution, but I was too young to know how to challenge that theory. It seemed to damage my child-like faith in God and contributed to my vulnerability to harmful temptations at a young age.
First expereince with rebellion and wrong choices:
Soon after that, certain vices became very attractive to me. I began to ignore my conscience. I only cared about being accepted by my friends, and deep down I was just afraid to say "no" to the temptations put before me. The summer after 4th grade I even started smoking. I indulged in my first drink of alcohol at age 11. A neighbor friend, who also introduced me to my first cigarette at age 9, offered me my first drink. Her parents were seldom home, especially after school. Since I had no father in the home, I was left unprotected and fell easy prey to those who would want to lead me astray.
In the 6th grade I had a wonderful Hebrew teacher, Mr. Pauker, who was a very positive influence in my life. He was from Israel and ended up moving into our neighborhood just down the street from me. He was the only loving Sunday school teacher that I ever had. He was very sincere and showed a real interest in me as a person.
I suppose that my Jewish ethical upbringing kept me in check at times. I had to show my grandparents, mother, brother, sister, teachers, and other adults respect, but around certain friends I was known as "Miss Ill try anything for attention." I developed at least 2 personalities with conflicting life styles and always lived with the fear that one day someone would find out what I was really like.
A trip to Washington D.C. leads to my first exposure to Christianity in a play called Godspell
In the 10th grade I began dating this guy at my high school. His family invited me to go to Washington D.C., and while we were there we watched Godspell at his cousins home. This was the first time that I ever remember viewing anything that was positive about the person of Jesus. The movie portrayed Jesus as a compassionate loving man. Everything he said was very kind. I really admired him. I had always thought that some Christians hated Jews. I didnt understand it all, but it made a big impression on me, just like when I knelt in that church when I was 5 years old. Now, for the very first time in my life, my eyes were open to the love of Jesus.
Also, at this time, I finally felt a part of my Sunday school class. The year that I went through confirmation, we took a trip to New York and stayed at this camp retreat for several nights. While I was there I was challenged to think about what my religion really meant to me. They didnt, though, talk about a "relationship" with God. The emphasis was more on "what it means to be Jewish?" By the end of the year I figured out that it was all about being a decent good person.
Confirmation at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and thoughts about the Messiah
The day of my confirmation came and my family and friends were in the audience. We were asked to write something meaningful, and I was picked to read my message. I said, "When I was little I thought that God had a white beard and sat on a cloud. I know better now." Then I said something about the Messiah and proclaimed that I know the truth now which is that the Messiah is in each one of us when we do good.
Well, I was sure glad I didnt have to go to Sunday school anymore, but I was one empty human being forever looking to fill that void with whatever new experience I could encounter. Pot was a new kick and when I smoked it I was convinced I was cool. Later I tried harder drugs which only added to my emotionally downward spiral. A girl doesnt think much of herself when shes drunk or high. So it wasnt hard for me to fall into promiscuity because I had such a longing in me for attention from a male.
I wanted a dad so much, and thought that a relationship would fulfill me, ease my pain, and give me significance. I was able to keep up with my schoolwork, but it became increasingly more difficult to concentrate with all the problems in my life. I made unwise decisions in my relationships. One time I tried a drug called angel dust and experienced some serious side effects.
At my 16-year-old birthday a girl offended me with the gift of a cross!
My wild behavior was obvious to others at Carmel High School. I even had two friends that tried to talk to me about Jesus. Each time they attempted to share their beliefs with me I became very angry. I would say, "You know that Im Jewish and cant believe in him." One of the girls secretly gave me a cross at my birthday party and didnt sign her name to her card. I angrily said to those who were watching me open my presents, "Who dared to give this to me?" Nobody responded and this made everyone feel very uncomfortable the remaining time at the party. I learned later that the reason the girl gave me the cross was because she really cared about me. She knew that I needed some help because of the friends I had.
In my senior year I remember being at a Yom Kippur service feeling so ashamed of myself before God. All I could do was sit there in pain, crying from a broken heart. I didnt know what direction to take or how to get relief. I had done enough hard drugs at that time that it was affecting my thinking. I had recently lost a boyfriend of two years. I just felt this overwhelming sense of being totally lost.
Drug abuse continues
The drugs and alcohol began to take both a physical and emotional toll on my life. I was na_ve and didnt realize the long-term damage it could have. I had many short term relationships with guys and the drugs just further led me into a more promiscuous life style. The burden of guilt, shame, and purposelessness led to some extended periods of deep depression.
I eventually graduated from Carmel High School in 1976 and in the fall of that year started classes at Ball State University. I must have been a blinking neon sign with the message, "I need spiritual help" because two girls on my floor gave me some literature about Jesus love for me. One of the books she gave me was Hinds Feet on High Places, an inspirational allegory about Jesus. The books basic message dealt with the principles that lead a person to that higher level of abundant life. I loved that book. I realized that I was truly searching for spiritual answers for my life. My other friend would often talk to me about Jesus and take me to her church. When they told me I needed "salvation" I just couldnt figure out what it was all about.
I remember once seeing a number on a sign that was an advertisement for a Christian campus group. I called the number and did get together with two girls one day, and they directly asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus as my Savior. I said, "no." After I said, "no" they just kind of gave up on me. We parted politely.
My search eventually led me to the Bahai religion for a while. I then became a vegetarian and tried hypnotism one time. But I was soon introduced to something so devastating that it would drastically change the course of my life. I was about to slip into the very regions of hell, a tormented mind.
Experiment with Transcendental Meditation (TM) -- a "descent into the hell of a tormented mind"
At the prodding suggestion of a boyfriend, I invested some money in a Transcendental Meditation (TM) course. I naively assumed that this was a simple method to achieve inner peace. My one Christian friend warned me about the psychological and spiritual dangers of this occult mystical practice. Since I had already paid the $100, I went ahead with the course. I was instructed to bring fruit for a ceremony, and they gave me a mantra. This mantra was a memorized phrase that I was to repeat over and over during the time of meditation when I was to strive to empty my mind of all thoughts.
Almost immediately after experimenting with TM, I entered a nightmarish world, a living hell. I began to hear voices that, in my confusion, I identified as messages from God. I had just started thinking about God lately and these voices were telling me to kill myself. I was irresistibly led to try and obey these voices. I despaired, thinking that there was no way out of this torment.
Depression, despair and the world of psychiatric hospital extended visits
My poor stressed out mother and her companion did not want me to hurt myself, so I was forced to live the majority of the next two years at Larue Carter Hospital. The psychiatrists had me so heavily medicated that it induced within me an almost zombie-like state. I had to endure unimaginable shock treatments and I was surrounded by people who also lived a tormented life. During a stay at Methodist Hospital, I even had to be put in restraints.
New friends share the love of God with me
In the Spring, toward the end of the 2nd year, I met two Christian girls that were in the hospital for a short period of time. They came to me to talk about Jesus. I was now very ready to surrender my life to Jesus. Well, one of them asked me if I was ready to receive Jesus as Lord of my life. Oh, I had prayed prayers before, but this time I got down on my knees and cried out to God. I called on Jesus as my Messiah and Lord. Then, all of a sudden this "light" came into my soul. I definitely knew that Jesus came into my life.
Many other compassionate people came into my life. Lori was a former high school acquaintance that was in my Drivers Ed. class. My ex-boyfriend's mother told Lori that I needed help. She was courageous and took a step of faith and visited me, not knowing what condition she would find me in. Also, I had a lengthy conversation with a very kind telephone repairman who became a dear friend. I had seen a Bible on his car seat on the hospital grounds and I began to ask him every question that I could think of about Jesus.
Before, people had talked to me about Him, but now I knew Him. I was now ready to have Him, the loving Jesus who died for me and had taken over my heart and set me free.
I used to be so angry at even the mention of His name. This One now had come to me with love. I knew that my life would be different, and soon I had hoped to forever leave behind my former tormented life.
I was given a Bible and started reading about my new Savior. I was still drugged and still dealing with problems, but now I had somewhere to go with my problems and Someone to take my burdens.
Through wonderful fellowship and the new friends that God sent to encourage me, I now had hope that I would get out of the hospital. Soon my life started showing signs that I could make it in the real world, so step by step I was introduced back into "normal life". I struggled and cried and pleaded for God to make me completely whole. I had been so wounded by all that had happened that it was hard for me to hold down a job or truly hold on to the promises of recovery, restoration, and healing that I read about in the Bible.
Within only a few months, they further evaluated me and decided to release me from the hospital. I still continued as an outpatient. As I look back, I can see that God was behind the scenes directing the steps of my life. To be honest, I still had many struggles and cried a lot. But it was different this time. Jesus was always near to me.
I started working at Goodwill. I continued to work at Goodwill and knew that I was saved and growing in my life as a follower of Jesus. I, however, didnt seem to have the power to live a consistent victorious life. I can only explain that I wanted to be "free". It was as if I wanted to "jump out of my skin" if I could. I even at times wanted to die and be with Jesus. I just wanted to be free from emotional struggle.
I had other jobs, usually for short periods of time. I struggled to stay at these jobs but I knew that God was with me.
A miracle of healing begins to take place in my life
One day I was sent to work at an office and I noticed that a co-worker had things about Jesus all over her desk. I asked her many questions and she took me to her church one Wednesday night. A young man greeted me very kindly in the parking lot and welcomed me to the service. They even coincidentally sang a Hebrew song (translated in English) that I used to sing in Sunday school at the Temple! I kept going back to that congregation and I am still there 20 years later!
Through loving encouragement from others, I was eventually taken off all medicine! I was hearing the Word of God in the Bible and He was delivering me step by step through His truth. I learned about all that He did for me 2000 years ago when he died in my place on that cross. The Lord, through His Holy Spirit, has helped me walk in victory in different areas at times, and He is slowly developing within me His character, called "fruit" in the Bible. It is all His doing.
God brought me to a church that really believed in the supernatural power of God and the authority that believers have to help others by the gifts of the Spirit to be set free from demonic oppression.
The Lord did so many things for me that I cant begin to write it all down. Only He can reach down in your spirit and soul and heal you on the inside. Only He can renew and regenerate a confused mind and give one a brand new beautiful life.
God brings a wonderful husband into my life
I began to ask God for a husband and God was so faithful to answer my prayers. At one time I never thought I would ever get married. Twenty years later we now have four healthy, beautiful and vibrant daughters. Only He could fill me with His Holy Spirit. He has given me a true inner peace that can never be found in the false hopes promoted by occult practices as TM. It is God Who directs and upholds me in my daily life and walk as a believer. He has also healed my body of many sicknesses.
I am 42 years old now and I look back on those times and shutter to think what would have happened if the Lord hadnt rescued me. Im so grateful that He pulled me out of a mess and set me on His path. I havent always consistently walked on that path, but He has so patiently pursued me, compelling me to keep going on. I thank Him for not giving up on me.
Today as a wife and mother, I know that any blessings I have today are because of His mercy and grace. The Lord has given me many opportunities to try many things I never thought Id be able to do.
The Lord has given me the privilege of helping in a Christian coffeehouse, the Catacombs, that gives teens a place to hang out and hear the gospel from live contemporary Christian bands. I now can reach out in compassion to other wayward kids and extend to them a real living hope.
I have a loving church family, close friends each of whom are gifts from God to me. We have been through a lot over the last 20 years.
Finally, I meet Messianic Jews
For many years I longed to meet other Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Lord. God saw that longing in my heart and I eventually met some wonderful Jewish people who are Messianic Jews. In Indianapolis we went to a Messianic Jewish Passover Seder and were amazed to see how the Old Testament pointed toward Jesus fulfillment as the Jewish Messiah. Passages as Isaiah 53 and Micah 5:1,2, written centuries before Jesus came to this earth, clearly point to Jesus, the Lamb of God.
I loved Passover when I was a child, and now I understand the true meaning of that ancient Old Testament festival. I know that being raised Jewish gave me a unique perspective on life. I am thankful for the true relationship I can now have with God through the atonement that was made through the Messiahs sacrifice for me.
Isnt it amazing how God can take a broken life that felt useless and use it to reach other hurting people? If He can do it for me, He also can work a miracle in your life.
I want to encourage any Jewish person who reads this story to study their Bibles and ask God to help them understand it. Ask God if He has a Son and what His sons name is. Also, ask God to reveal the reality of eternity, heaven, and the amazing grace that God gives to the one who asks for their sins to be forgiven. The only perfect atonement was made by a perfect Savior and Messiah. His name is Jesus.
If you have further questions about anything written in the testimony, please send me an email, write, or call me. I will also provide Leslie with your email address if you would like to talk to her directly. - - - Jon Lieberman