By Mitch Glaser
My background as a Jewish American is common for those of my generation. I was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents. My dad is from a non-religious but very Jewish home, and my mom, whose parents were from Russia, is from an Orthodox home. I grew up going to an Orthodox synagogue in the Queens section of New York City. At the age of thirteen, I became Bar Mitzvah. Then, like many other nice Jewish boys of my generation, I left the synagogue.
Later on, my family moved to New Jersey. Like many of my peers, I got involved with drugs and barely made it into college. I attended the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, but soon dropped out. My good friend, Efraim Goldstein, hitchhiked with me to California. By then, I was selling drugs.
One day, I was robbed at gunpoint. This shook me up so much that I stopped dealing drugs and began my own spiritual search. Looking back, I realize that it was God who delivered me and spared my life.
An Unexpected Messenger
Joan, a Jewish friend from the East Coast, came to California to visit us but didn’t like what she saw. She left and while hitchhiking was picked up by two “on-fire” Gentile Christians. By the time they reached their destination in Oregon, they had led Joan to the Messiah.
Joan returned to share the Gospel with us. I was aghast. “Joan, you’re Jewish!” I shouted. “Jews don’t believe in Jesus.”
But Efraim fell for it! He and Joan went back to Oregon, moved into a Christian commune, and began to pray behind my back. I decided to go up there to “save” them. I was impressed by the people I met in Oregon – and by the blackberry pies they baked! Each time I tried to argue, they would say, “Mitch, why don’t you read it in your Bible?”
So I picked up an Old Testament and found that I really wanted to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I did not, however, read the New Testament.
A New Life Begins
One day, I prayed, “God, if you’re there, show me how to get to you.” That night, I found a copy of the New Testament glowing in the moonlight on the ledge of a phone booth. Was this my answer? I began reading that New Testament and was amazed by two things. The first was that Jesus was Jewish. The second was that He was God in the flesh-and the promised Messiah of Israel.
I devoured that New Testament, and it wasn’t long before I received the Lord. That was over 30 years ago. To say that Jesus changed my life is an understatement. He is everything to me: life, joy, salvation…everything!