The Randy Mitchell Story:
Synagogue of youth: Bnai Torah / Orthodox
High School: Broad Ripple High School: Class of 1966
College: Ball State University: Degree in History and Political Science, 1970
Teaching experience: Taught American History and Physical Education at South Side Junior High School, Anderson, Indiana
Present job: President of Ranco Marketing (Independent sales agent in the transportation industry)
Marriage: Married to Beverly Nicoles - 1969
Children: (4 sons): Brandon-1973, Shane-1975, Cory-1979, Jeremy1985
Introduction by Jon Lieberman: Randy and I grew up in the same neighborhood, went to high school together, and were athletes in high school (though Randy excelled in many sports). I always respected Randy because he was popular, never got into trouble and was a really nice guy. I was sort of a rebel and didn't always make the wisest decisions as a young person. But one thing that we had in common was that we were both not religious! I don't remember any of us Jewish kids talking about our personal beliefs or non-beliefs concerning God. Back then it just wasn't an issue with us. Randy and I were both surprised to learn that independently of each other we discovered the Messiah (or we could both say the Messiah found us). We were the spiritually lost ones, not God. We can both say that we "found out the truth." I am sure you will be as surprised as I was when I learned about Randy's changed life. Whether you now believe in miracles or not, after you read about the miracle of divine healing that his first born son Brandon received in 1973, you will acknowledge that God exists and He does answer prayer.
Jon Lieberman's interview with Randy (and wife Bev):
Q. Randy, what do you feel had the greatest impact on your inquiry into God?
R. Most definitely it began when I meet Bev.
Q. How did you two meet?
R. It was the beginning of the 1968 Fall quarter and I had just started my junior year at Ball State University. My fraternity had sponsored an all campus dance to welcome students back to school. I was not, however, in much of a party mood that night because I was recovering from a broken engagement. At the party I met this girl, Bev, who had also recently broken up with her boy friend. We seemed to really hit it off and began to enjoy one anothers company.
One night, a few weeks later, the subject of my being Jewish came up. I was shocked when she immediately responded, "Thats great! Im so glad," as this was not the typical reaction I had received from gentiles. Then she continued, " Oh, would you please explain to me why Moses was struck with a life threatening illness on his way back to Egypt to obey Gods command? Oh, and when Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, why did he........?" She was full of questions and assumed that since I was Jewish, I would know the answers. But I had not looked at a Jewish Bible since my Bar Mitzvah days at the Bnai Torah congregation, and I had no idea what she was talking about. She was obviously surprised at my lack of biblical knowledge. I explained that my parents really werent religious Jews and didnt attend synagogue.
After that evening, it didnt take long before we became serious and started making plans toward marriage. The night I asked Bev to marry me, she asked me to promise her two things. First, she wanted me to ask her fathers permission to marry her. Secondly, she wanted me to promise that as a family we would attend church every Sunday. I assured her that I would be glad to do both. The night I spoke with her parents, they had already anticipated what was on our minds and it was clear that we not only had their consent but also their blessing. So, we were engaged at the end of December 1968.
I was not that concerned about my commitment to attend church with her because I actually thought of church as a rather safe, non-threatening place. To me it would be nothing more than a time to socialize without any pressure to change my beliefs.
Q. Bev, since you wanted Randy to go to church with you, were you a Christian at the time?
Bev: Yes, I was. I was born-again at about the age of eleven. Although, I had not shared this with anyone prior to my meeting Randy because the experience had been highly private and personal to me. Looking back today, I realize it took place at a time when I had really been seeking answers..... spiritual answers. My parents had always attended church and were active members. But being a church member didnt make me a child of the Living God. One Sunday morning, I asked my Sunday school teacher, " How do we know, when we die, if we will go to heaven or not?" She replied, "All we can do, Bev, is the best we know how and hope that we make it." Her answer didnt satisfy me. Inwardly, I thought "Well, how good do I need to be? How "good" is good enough?"
Shortly after this, I began reading a childrens Bible. The more I read, the more I came to love the people of the Bible, Gods chosen people, the Hebrews. One night as I read, though, I came to the third chapter of the Gospel of John. I read Jesus answer to a very prominent rabbi, Nicodemus, who was inquiring as to how one enters the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "Ye must be born-again." I knew this was my answer. Yet, like Nicodemus, I didnt have a clue as to what it meant. I closed the Bible, and cried out for God to help me understand. Immediately, the presence of the Lord moved into my bedroom. Conviction of sin flooded my being and I began to weep. I asked the Lord to forgive me and I surrendered my life to Him. From that moment, I was aware that something changed inside of me.
Day after day, I sensed the abiding presence of God within me. He opened my spiritual eyes to Him and my heart to others. Sadly, though, I was not receiving much teaching on the principles of Gods truth from the scriptures. As time passed, I grew away from the Lord and lived for myself. By the time I met Randy, I had totally forgotten my experience with Him as an eleven year old and had little spiritual understanding. Yet, the Lord in His divine plan made me aware that His hand was orchestrating this marriage. Not only did I love this sparkling-eyed Jewish man with the ready wit and affectionate ways, but my parents also dearly embraced him into the family.
Q. Tell me about your wedding.
R. Well, the wedding day finally arrived on August 23, 1969. What a marriage ceremony it was! The sanctuary was filled with both gentile and Jewish family members and guests. I had not seen some of my Chicago Jewish relatives for years. Being sensitive to both the Christian and Jewish wedding traditions, we blended from each. We read Scriptures from both the Old and New Covenants, took the Christian communion from a goblet and then according to Jewish tradition, I wrapped and stepped on it to seal our marriage. My Jewish grandfather was in tears as he witnessed the whole ceremony.
We were deeply in love with each other and had a very happy marriage. After graduation in 1970, we both began our teaching careers in Anderson, Indiana. And as promised, I started attending a large liberal denominational church with Bev. Things were basically going very smoothly for us. I was enjoying life immensely. Yet, this life of mine was about to dramatically change when one summer night in 1971, two young men came knocking on our door.
Q. Randy, before sharing your reaction to what happened that night, could you briefly describe your life growing up in a secular Jewish home?
R. My parents were Morrie and Gerry (Rossett) Mitchell. Mom was born in Chicago and dad was from Indianapolis. They met while their families were vacationing in South Haven, Michigan. After they were married in 1946, they settled in Indianapolis.
I was born in 1948, the eldest of four siblings. When I was young, we lived on Kessler Boulevard just west of Meridian Street. My Grandpa Joe and Grandma Ida lived a few houses down on Meridian and my Uncle Tuffy and Aunt Esther lived right across the street from us. Most of my parents friends were Jewish and we spent a good deal of time socializing at one anothers homes.
Q. Randy, as a boy, didnt you go to Bnai Torah?
R. Well, I had my Bar Mitzvah there. However, that was the extent of all my religious training or experience. And that really wasnt much!
Q. Why? What do you mean?
As a boy, I went to Hebrew school for a few years. They tried to teach us the basics of Hebrew but I just didnt retain much of it. Then a few months before I turned thirteen, I discovered, to my relief, that all I needed to do in order to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah was to memorize a small section of the Torah.
Everyday, instead of going to class, I went to the principals office, turned on a record, and learned to simply imitate the Hebrew chanting. I had no idea what the words meant but I had every "jot and tittle" committed to memory. On my "big" day, as the Rabbi pointed to the Hebrew words in the Torah, I rattled off every word but understood nothing of what I said. I just stood there at the Bema with my eyes in a glaze before my proud family and friends and simply repeated what I had heard for the previous three months!
Q. Randy, did you or your family believe in God?
I can not tell you if I did or not. As I was growing up, I dont remember whether I even considered thoughts of God and I certainly dont recall any discussion of Him in my home. Years later, my mom told me that she and Grandpa Joe had had some interesting talks concerning religion. I think she had a superficial belief in the existence of God but it went no further than that.
Q. Did you talk about life after death?
R. Not that I remember.
Q. When was your first encounter with Christianity?
R. I can only remember one time during my high school years when someone tried to present the claims of Christianity to me. A friend at Broad Ripple High School invited me to a Christian event at Broad Ripple Park. They were having a cookout that summer day and the speaker was trying to persuade the students to believe something about Jesus, but I really was not listening. My attention and interests were solely on the girl who had invited me! I guess I just didnt have any interest in religion.
It wasnt until years later after meeting Bev that I realized just how Biblically illiterate I was. She was the first non-Jewish friend who spoke to me in-depth about spiritual matters. She was the one who told me that my Jewish people wrote both the Old and New Covenants of scripture. Amazing as it might seem, I was not even aware of that!
The only other spiritual experience I had, prior to meeting Bev, was during my early college days. It involved the enactment of the famous parable of "the prodigal son" that Jesus gave in the New Testament. The context was forgiveness of another person who may have hurt or offended you. I witnessed and experienced the pain, suffering, and rejection of a "prodigal son", and then felt the joy of restoration, just like when a rebellious son is reconciled to his father. I was emotionally overwhelmed and amazed at the truth that was being presented. At that time, I didnt fully understand the significance of the parable. Today, though, I clearly see how it pictures a loving, forgiving heavenly Father who waits with open arms for one, like me, who will repent and turn to Him. I can tell you, Jon, that the experience had a major impact upon my life and it prepared my heart to listen to spiritual truth in the future.
Q. So how did you come to meet this God?
R. After Bev and I were married and graduated from Ball State, we found teaching positions in Anderson, Indiana and relocated there. I wanted to keep my promise to her so we faithfully began attending a large denominational church downtown.
Bev: Yes, Randy seemed to be content there, but the longer we attended, the greater my discontentment grew. One Sunday morning, the message from the pulpit was on existentialism. As I sat in the pew, I inwardly thought, " I heard this philosophy of despair taught in a college classroom. Im surely not coming to church to hear this!" Later that same morning, Randy and I also attended a Sunday school class. The discussion, for the first time in weeks, began to center on the person of Jesus. However, one of the women spoke up and said, " Well, there is just one thing about it. I can not accept the idea that Jesus was perfect because I simply cannot identify with anyone who is perfect." I was amazed at the skepticism I heard, but I was even more amazed as I scanned the room and observed almost every head nodding in agreement with her unbelief concerning Jesus. I had no intention of speaking but the Holy Spirit began stirring inside of me and I could not remain silent. I said, "If Jesus was not perfect, then He went to the cross and died in vain." An immediate hush fell over the classroom. I knew this was not the place for me. I was spiritually hungry and I wanted to find a church where I would be fed.
R. As I said earlier, things were about to dramatically change in our lives. Not long after that, there was that "knock at our door." Two men from a Baptist church had come to welcome us to the city. They introduced themselves and invited us to their church. Before leaving they asked, "By the way, have you ever been saved?" Since I had no idea as to what they were talking about and was not familiar with that term, I responded, "Saved from what?" Even though I was puzzled by their answer, Bev appeared interested so we invited then in for awhile.
A few weeks later, Bev wanted to visit that Baptist church. I went along, thinking that it was just going to be another one of those social, low-key, non-threatening church experiences. But what an experience it was!
The pastor was young, had a southern accent and looked somewhat like Billy Graham. He gave a very compelling message using terms and a subject which were still quite foreign to me. He talked something about salvation by grace through faith in the blood atonement of Jesus Christ. At the conclusion of the message, he even invited those who wanted to make a commitment to Jesus to come forward publicly! I had never seen or experienced such a thing! Although there were approximately three hundred people present, I was convinced the pastor for some reason had decided to talk directly to me. He was describing the condition of those individuals who believed they really did not need God, as the very ones who, in reality, needed Him the most! At that moment, I became very tense and extremely uncomfortable.
He then continued to speak of those who felt that they were rather "good" people, but based on their own works or "goodness" would still never be able to stand before a holy God. Anger began welling up inside of me as I gripped the back of the pew in front of me until my knuckles turned white. I was convinced that this total stranger, this pastor, had deliberately singled me out of the crowd to preach just to me.
As we walked out to the parking lot that day, I told Bev, "I will never step foot in that place again." I was furious and visibly shaken. For the first time in my life, I was confronted with the knowledge that I was a sinner separated from God. Not a fun prospect! Before this, I felt that I was basically a pretty good person, and I felt comfortable with my own definitions of "goodness", character and integrity. Yes, I had promised Bev that I would go to church and if we went to a place where I felt comfortable, then fine, but I was not going back there!
Q. Why do you think you felt so uncomfortable?
Today I know why. Of course, it wasnt until years later that I came to realize what had happened to me that day. Back then, I knew nothing of the convicting power of God coming upon someone. He was the one who was confronting me that day and causing me to look at my spiritual condition from His view.
Q. So then what happened?
Bev: I guess I should answer that. I had just the opposite reaction from Randy that Sunday. This was the place I had been looking for. The sweet presence of the Lord could be felt there. Randys insistence that the pastor had singled him out and preached just to him, perplexed me. I knew it wasnt true. We had been only one small couple among hundreds that day, and we had sat off to one side at the very end of the pew. It was not the best location for the pastor to even view us. Nevertheless, I tried visiting other churches with Randy for a few weeks. After a short time, though, I knew I had a decision to make. I loved my husband but I also loved the Lord, and I could no longer deny the "drawing" by Gods Spirit to go back to the Baptist church. So I made the decision and began attending the church by myself. For two and a half years I went alone, but I didnt mind because I was learning and growing in the knowledge of my Lord.
Bev: During that time, one the men from the church approached me and expressed an interest in coming to visit Randy. He believed God was directing him to do so. I liked Steve. He seemed to be an honorable man, and I learned he had been a teacher and a principal. What I didnt know, at that time, was that Steve Barnett also happened to be the amateur golf champion for the state of Indiana. Anyway, Steve befriended Randy, and Randy was thrilled. Here was someone Randy enjoyed and admired, especially since Randy was such a sports enthusiast.
R. I did enjoy the fact that Steve and I had several interests in common. It helped me to see that these "religious" people could have fun too. But Steve himself was such a very special man. I was impressed with his humble character yet strong convictions. He quickly gained my trust and confidence. Then one evening, months after we had spent a good deal of time together, he came over to our apartment and began talking to me about my eternal soul. He touched on the subjects of sin, death, heaven and hell. He said that somewhere down the road, I would need to make a choice, and by my not having made a choice that night, I had actually already made one.
He also explained that ultimately, one day I would be confronted with the results of my choice and have to give an account to God. We talked at length that night. I shared my views and he shared his. Before he left, he concluded by saying, " Look at it this way, Randy. Lets say youre right and Im wrong...... there is no heaven and no hell. If that is the case, then the worst thing that has happened to me is that Ive lived a moral, clean and ethical life. Ive enjoyed life to its fullest. I die and then turn to dust. Ive lost nothing have I? But, Randy, what if Im right and youre wrong? What if there is a specific God who requires a blood atonement for reconciliation with Him? What if there is a true heaven and a true hell? What then? Ive gained everything but you have lost everything!!"
That got to me. His words gripped my soul and caused me to really start thinking about eternal issues. At that same time, Bev began reading books concerning what the Bible teaches about the final period of human history and the coming of the Messiah. She read Hal Lindsays best seller, The Late Great Planet Earth and books by another popular author, Salem Kirban. She was fascinated by what she read, and I became curious myself. So I read them too. The more I poured over these books, the more convinced I became that these Christians had truth, insight and understanding concerning the meaning of life.
But, Jon, I was Jewish! Wasnt Jesus just for the gentiles? What would my dad say about all of this? Somehow, I felt he may not be very pleased. I was trying desperately to come to terms with all of my thoughts. It was no small dilemma and quite a soul searching time. If I made a decision to surrender my life to Jesus, I was convinced I would be the only Jew in the whole world who had. I had been an agnostic Jew but now what would I be....... a Christian Jew? Remember, Jon, this was back in the early 1970's. At that time, I didnt know even one Jew who had come to embrace Jesus as his Messiah.
Q. So what brought you to the point of making the decision?
R. It was in June of 1973. Bev and I had just experienced the joy of having our first child.... a son. Within a month of Brandons birth, the doctor gave us some devastating news about our son. Brandon had been born with a serious heart condition. His pediatrician sent us immediately to Riley Childrens Hospital in Indianapolis.
Bev: During that first visit to Riley, two, not one, cardiologists examined Brandon. Once they had viewed Brandons X-rays and his cardiogram, they conferred and both agreed as to the diagnosis. They explained that Brandon had a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart, a hole between the two lower chambers of his heart and a defective valve as well. We were told he would need open heart surgery by the time he was only one year old. One of the pediatric cardiologists was difficult to understand as he had a very strong middle-eastern accent. He used the term "fatal" in describing the babys condition apart from the surgery.
That evening, after returning home and having put the baby down for the night, I walked into our darkened bedroom and found Randy on his knees praying. He loved that little boy and he knew Brandons condition was a serious one.
Q. What was happening to you Randy?
Thats tough to talk about, Jon. Emotions were rushing in on me. This was something more than I could handle in myself. I knew that even with surgery, and especially with open heart surgery, there would be no guarantees. My heart was hurting and I fell on my knees and cried out, "Oh, God, help my son!"
Bev:Within the next two weeks, a few of the people from church gathered with Randy and me to pray for the Lord to intervene and heal Brandons heart. A month later we took him back to Riley. They ran another set of X-rays and did another cardiogram. Once the doctor seated us in his office, he took a good deal of time comparing the results of these new tests with the previous months. He kept looking back and forth again and again. Finally, he turned his chair around and admitted to us that Brandons condition had changed quite dramatically. He informed us that Brandon would not need open heart surgery until he was five years old.
Q. Randy, how did that affect you?
Remember, Jon, I was there when my wife and these Christians prayed. I was there when the two sets of X-rays and cardiograms were compared. I knew something beyond human power had touched my son. There was no denying it. The emotion began to well up inside of me. Imagine, this God, this Jesus, cared. He cared about my son. He cared about my pain. I was just trying to take all of it in.
Yet, months passed as I still wrestled with my thoughts, my fears, and myself. Finally on February 3, 1974, I was ready. That Sunday, Bev asked if I would like to go to church with her. This time I wanted to go. Something inside of me had changed. Bevs faith was no longer a threat to me. In fact, I had inwardly come to believe as she did. I knew that Jesus was real. I knew He was alive, and I knew He cared! I also knew I was venturing into uncharted waters as far as my Jewishness was concerned, but now it didnt matter. The fear was gone.
That Sunday, I raised my hand during the invitation and stepped out into the aisle to walk forward. I was going forward to meet my Lord, my Savior, my Jewish Messiah. It seemed as if the weight of the world lifted off me as the gentle warmth of His presence moved in. I felt free. I felt clean..... washed clean by Him. Then His abiding peace swept over me. Yes, I became a new creation.... a new creation in my Lord. From then on, I knew my name had been written in the book... the book of Life.
Bev: Oh, yes, he changed. Randy had always been thoughtful and helpful toward others, but now it had gone deeper. We began praying together for the Lord to reveal Himself to our relatives, friends, and neighbors. We prayed for their eternal souls, for their deliverance from physical addictions, and for physical healings.
Then something very special and precious happened within a few months after Randy came to His Messiah. He and I were invited to share our testimonies at the church I had attended as a child. It was Randys first public testimony. After the invitation that Sunday, thirty-three tear-stained members of the church walked forward with broken hearts to meet the God that they thought they had been serving. Even the Sunday school teacher whose answer to my question years earlier had revealed her own spiritually lost condition testified that morning, " Ive been a member of this church for forty-one years, but today, is the first day of my life that I feel "clean" before God."
R. That was some special day! But, Jon, I would also like you to know of another answer to our prayers. Remember our son, Brandon? The Lord continued to do a work concerning him. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that "what my God begins, He finishes". He doesnt leave loose ends. What He says, He means. And what He promises, He does.
During the next few years, Bev and I continued praying over and for Brandon. Yet, our prayers became more of a time of praise, and a time to thank the Lord for His faithfulness in keeping His promises. Our understanding and trust in this very personal, good, and true Lord was growing. In the winter of 1976, Brandon went into Riley Hospital for a heart catheterization. Afterwards, the profoundly amazed doctor told us to take him off of all heart medication as he no longer needed it or open heart surgery! When the Lord does something, He does it right! In recent years, Brandon, who is extremely athletic, even played varsity soccer for Taylor University. Thank-you Lord for your faithfulness.
Q. Randy, how long was it after you first became a believer when you realized you were not the only Jew to believe in Jesus?
R. Not long. A couple of weeks later, I attended a meeting in Indianapolis with Bev. She had previously gone a few times without me, and had tried to explain that Jewish believers came to these meetings, but I guess I just couldnt accept that. What a surprise awaited me! There were many Jews present. All believed in Jesus. I met whole families who were believers. The Sobel family from Anderson, Indiana, included their eighty year old father who had been a believer since his youth. Some Jewish believers were middle-aged, and some were young adults. All had amazing stories to tell as to how they came to meet the God of Abraham.
At that time, Messianic leaders, Martin and David Chernoff, drove monthly from Cincinnati to lead the meetings. Later, after they moved to Philadelphia, Ed Brotsky became the President for the local chapter of the MJAA (Messianic Jewish Alliance of America). Ed and his wife Nora, though originally from Canada, had taken up residence in Indianapolis. Over the next few years, he presented several of the Jewish Feasts and explained Jesus as the fulfillment of each, such as, Jesus, the Pascal Lamb and Jesus, the unleaven bread, etc. The Lord used these devoted, godly men to help ground me in understanding my Jewish heritage in my Messiah.
Q. Tell me more about Ed Brotsky.
Ed is a very special friend. He came to believe in Jesus the Messiah as a young Jewish man. As far as his credentials are concerned, he is a Doctor of Divinity, an honors graduate of two Canadian colleges, and a founder of Messianic congregations in both Canada and the United States.
He has done extensive research on the first century church which has lead him to believe that there were many Cohans (Cohens) -- Levites who officiated in the great Temple, and rabbis who believed in Jesus as Messiah. He also believes that dialogue took place between those who were believers and those Cohens who had not yet accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
From this dialogue the "afikomen" was initiated into the Passover Seder.
Its amazing when we take a hard look at the silent drama surrounding the afikomen which is enacted at every Seder. As Jews, the drama was never explained to us. We simply acted it out. But in Jesus, in Yeshua our Messiah, the picture becomes clear. Jesus who is the mediator between God and man is the middle matzah. His sinless body was "pierced" and "broken" on our behalf. It was wrapped in white linen, buried (behind the pillow), and discovered missing. And just like the matzah is "ransomed" back and given to the people to be consumed, so was Jesus body given as a ransom for many who believe and brought back (through resurrection) to give eternal life to all who "take" Him into their hearts and lives.
Its strange, Jon, but I feel more Jewish now than when I was growing up. Its hard for me when I hear that some people dont believe that one can be a Jew and believe in Jesus. After all, Jesus was a Jew! He was born of the tribe of Judah. He was of the house of David. All of the first disciples and apostles were Jews. The apostle Paul was a pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was a rabbi. According to first century writings, many, not a few, of the members of priestly families believed in Jesus. Even recently, several burial caves have been discovered and opened in Israel. Some have contained as many as thirty ossuaries inscribed with family names of priests. Also inscribed on some of the stone coffins were Hebrew dedications such as: " (To) Jesus Christ, The Redeemer", "(To) Jesus, the Lord", "Jesus..... (who) Ascended" and " Yeshua" (Jesus) "YHO" (scholars believe this to be part of the tetragram meaning "Jehovah" or "the Lord"). Jerusalem Christian Review vol. 10, Internet Ed., Issue 2, vol. 9, Internet Ed., Issue 10
Jon, its baffling to me. According to some, a Jew can be non-religious and still be a Jew. He can be an agnostic and still be a Jew. He can be an atheist and still be a Jew, but if he believes in Jesus, he cant be a Jew.
Q. What opportunities have you had to share your faith?
A couple of years after the Chernoffs moved to Philadelphia, Ed Brotsky and his wife moved back to Canada. I was then elected President of the MJAA for the state of Indiana. We met once a month to worship our Messiah, to learn more of Him and how to share our faith with other fellow Jews. From there, God opened doors for me to present the Passover Seder not only within that group but also with other Christian churches, fellowships and Christian colleges. Ive also spoken and shared my testimony on radio, television, Womens Aglow meetings, and meetings of the Full Gospel Businessmens Fellowship.
Q. When did you first learn that I became a Messianic Jew?
Bev: It was at the Regional Convention meeting of the Full Gospel Businessmens Fellowship downtown Indianapolis in the Fall of 1974. On the second or third night, the speaker was a Messianic Jew. During his testimony, he spoke of a Jewish man, Jon lieberman from Indianapolis, who had helped him in his ministry.
As soon as he said your name, Randy looked at me in absolute astonishment and said, "Johnny Lieberman? I know him. I grew up with him. Hes a believer?" He was excited, Jon.
R. You better believe it! Here was someone I had known most my life...Jewish, and a believer!
Q. When do you remember that we first saw each other again after we had become believers?
R. I remember you coming to our apartment near Eighty-sixth Street and Ditch Road. It probably was around 1978. You had somehow heard about me and called. After talking for awhile, we made arrangements to have you over. As I recall, it was not only a great reunion but also a special time for us as brothers in the Lord. Who would have thought that we would share our stories in this book twenty-two years later?
Q. Randy, I know that others in your family have come to Yeshua (Jesus). Tell me about them.
R. Like all Jewish believers, I had a tremendous burden to see my family accept Jesus as the Messiah. I knew their eternal soul hung in the balance so Bev and I prayed continually for them.
A lot happened real fast. In the summer of 1974, my younger sister, Jodie, flew in from Miami where she was living with my mom. Mom had been taken into the hospital and Jodie needed a place to stay. We talked to her about our faith in the God of Abraham and she prayed with us in our livingroom to turn her life over to Jesus too.
Then in 1975, my brother, Scotti and his wife Joni came to a MJAA meeting with us. That night Scotti was gloriously saved. Yeshua truly transformed him. People actually saw the light of Gods presence coming forth from his eyes. For the last eleven years, he has taught in a private Christian school.
Next, my mom, Gerry, came to believe. For a few years she just watched us. She saw Brandons healing, she observed our faith growing in the Lord and she began asking questions. Then the Lord supernaturally delivered her from alcoholism. She had been diagnosed as being in the last stages of the condition when God intervened and she abruptly stopped drinking. She went off of the alcohol "cold turkey" and had no symptoms of withdrawal. At that time, she had weighed only about ninety pounds and was "blacking out". It truly was a miracle. Mom never drank again and said she didnt crave it even once after that time.
Within two years, she surrendered her life to the Lord and in the late 1970's, she was filled with the Holy Spirit. She really loved the Lord, Jon, and she shared her faith in Him with others. In 1989, she went home to be with Him.
Q. What about your dad, Morrie?
R. In the beginning of my walk with the Lord there were some "forces" at work that served to drive a wedge between my dad and me. As a result, he not only had misgivings about what I was doing but he also had misunderstandings, and misconceptions as well. Then there came a time when dad had very generously gone out of his way to help me find a job. I was really grateful and told him so. But there was a problem. The kind of job dad had lined up for me was in a field which conflicted with my walk with my Lord. You talk about being between a rock and a hard place! I did not want to disappoint or hurt my dad. Yet, how could I keep a clean conscience before my God? I sincerely appreciated and thanked dad for all he had done but explained, as best I could, that I could not accept the job. It was apparent he not only did not understand my decision but it also served to widen the riff between us.
I loved my dad and despite everything, I believed he still loved me. We had been very close while I was growing up and I missed him. Yet, the Lord was with me and I was learning to look to Him as my Father.
One day, out of the blue, dad called and asked me to meet him at his place of business, Caesars Pub in Broad Ripple. I was surprised and thrilled to meet him. I walked in and we sat down together. Dad Looked at me and said, "Randy, I want you to know that Ive had you and this organization (MJAA) which you belong to investigated. But I still just dont understand. So I called you here because I want you to explain to me. Exactly, what is it you believe? What is this faith of yours all about?"
Jon, for five to six hours I shared with my dad how and why I came to believe in Jesus. He heard it all. I held nothing back. During that conversation, dad openly expressed his views and feelings in several areas. I was so grateful because I then was able to correct some of his misconceptions and misunderstandings. The "air" was cleared between us in both spiritual matters and in personal ones. We had a great time just being father and son again! To my knowledge, until this writing, only Bev and I knew that the meeting had even taken place. Dad wanted it that way!
Q. Did he come to the Lord at that time?
No. He just listened and asked questions.... many questions. I could tell he was really thinking about what I said. Before I left, he thanked me. But that was it.
Q. When did this meeting happen?
R. Im not sure. I think it was around 1977 or 1978. Not long after, dad became very sick. He was diagnosed with a rare blood disease and the doctors couldnt help him. He passed away in 1979.
At his funeral, a Methodist minister gave the eulogy. He had a number of nice things to say about dad but the most important was his last words. He said, "In the last few months of Morries life, he and I searched the scriptures together for the meaning of life. And Id like to sing a song for you that came to mean so very much to Morrie." He sang, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see." Jon, nothing could have been sweeter to my ears! I then knew my dad had discovered the grace that is found only in the blood of Jesus. God had been faithful again. Even my dad had come to trust Him. And someday we would be together again.
Q. Are there any others?
Yes, not long before my Grandma Ida Mitchell passed away, she prayed with Bev for Jesus to forgive her sin and to save her. She was truly grieved over her own sin. That same day, she tried several times to reach someone by telephone to ask for forgiveness and to make amends. She wanted to do it and said she was more than ready to reconcile with them. But, she was unable to make the contact that day. Later, Bev asked if she had tried to call again. Grandma said she had tried but no one had been home. Her memory was not what it had been so we think it slipped her mind. Shortly afterwards she passed away.
Q. Randy, is there any thing you would just like to say?
R. Jon, I want so much for our Jewish people to understand that we who believe in Jesus as our Messiah have not left the faith of our fathers. But, instead, as the apostle Paul , a Jew, a pharisee, and member of the ancient Sanhedrin, wrote, we have embraced the covenant of Abraham, the covenant of promise. The covenant of Moses is perfect, and it was given to us to instruct us, to be our tutor. Yet, we learned from the law that, as perfect as it is, we can simply not keep it by our own efforts. It is beyond human capabilities to keep the true spirit and heart of the law. Even the first of the ten commandments we have broken. Who can deny, as we are honest with ourselves, that each of us at sometime has put some other "god" before the Lord God of creation. Perhaps that "god" was a spouse, a child, money, position, power, or even our own selfish wants and desires. We have not kept the heart and the spirit of the law.
But, there was one who did come and who did keep the it, Yeshua, the Messiah. He who is perfect God, and perfect man. When He walked on the earth, He said, "Think not that I have come to abolish the Law, or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." And fulfill it He did, both in spirit and in truth.
On the evening prior to His crucifiction, Jesus met with His twelve disciples to celebrate the Passover Seder. At that time, He took a cup, blessed it, and said, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."
Which "new" covenant was He speaking about? The "new" covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah. Not a covenant written on tablets of stone which we can not keep, but one written upon our hearts which we can keep.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Our God, our Messiah, came to initiate this new covenant, and to "cut" that covenant with His own precious blood. His willing sacrifice became the fulfilled, completed, and final atonement for sin for all time and eternity. Yet, we personally must believe and receive of that atonement.
Jon, when my wife or any other Christian asks me or a fellow Jew, "So, tell me, where is your blood atonement?" How can we answer? Our Temple no longer stands in Jerusalem. Do we say, as Jews, "Oh, we now look to our "good" works for redemption?" As my wife asked herself so many years ago, "How good do those good works have to be?" What is the standard of measurement? Even our own prophet Isaiah stated, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, all our righteous (good) deeds are like filthy rags."
The God of our father Abraham is the one to whom we will answer and to Him alone. He is the one who has instructed us through the Torah that atonement comes through the "shedding of blood".
Once my wife said, "I have my blood atonement. And its in the person of your Jewish Messiah.... Its in Jesus the Lord."
I can now say, Jon, that I also have my blood atonement. I never have to be concerned about whether Im "good" enough. In myself I never would be. But in my Lord, in my Messiah, I stand redeemed and cleansed. What freedom! What joy! What rest! If only all our Jewish brethren knew what we have come to know!
If you have further questions about anything written in the testimony, please send me an email, write, or call me. I will also provide Randy with your email address if you would like to talk to him directly. - - - Jon Lieberman firstname.lastname@example.org