By Emily Seemar
My story would not be complete without including my mother’s story. She had a difficult childhood and as an adult she sometimes found it hard to cope. My father had been raised as an observant Jew and was encouraged to get an education. But the more educated he became, the more he drifted from any sort of anchoring religious belief.
During my childhood, my mother began a search for God. I remember her reading the book, The Nazarene, by Sholem Asch, which was sort of on the “forbidden list” for good Jews. Then, a non-Jewish neighbor invited her to hear a rabbi who had come to faith in Messiah. She was attracted to the message, and shortly after, she began attending a Chosen People Ministries Messianic Jewish ladies’ Bible study in Levittown, New York. After being shown many Messianic prophecies in her Jewish Bible, my mom came to faith in Messiah. She also met several other Jewish women there who encouraged her.
When my mother attended classes, my brother, sister and I also went along. I grew very close to Ruth Wardell, the woman who worked with the children. But as my mother became more committed, my father raised objections. He was concerned about the effect this was having on us children, and by now his side of the family had ostracized my mother. Meanwhile, I had a burning desire to know who the Messiah was.
A Haven of Love
When I was almost twelve years old, my father permitted us to attend Camp Sar Shalom, the Messianic summer camp that Chosen People Ministries sponsored. There were two things that God impressed upon my heart at camp. The first was that my struggles to “be good” and my failure to “measure up” were not just my own problem, but everyone’s problem. As the prophet Isaiah said, “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). I knew from my Jewish upbringing that the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and there was no longer a sacrifice to cover our sins.
The second thing I learned was what God had done to remedy the situation. When I read Isaiah chapter 53, I could not believe how well it was describing Jesus the Messiah: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Another thing that affected me was the love and kindness shown to me by these believers. So, at the end of one of the camp meetings, I knew I had to make a choice, and I chose Messiah!
Both my parents are gone now. As an adult woman, I have a greater appreciation for the degree of courage it took for my mother to choose as she did. I wish I could say “thank you” to her – and to my father also, because even though he did not approve, in his own way, he supported my decision.
Finding Messiah was like finding a haven of love. And his sheltering love has been there for me throughout my life.