Friday, April 10, 2009

Joanne Sher Opens Her Book to Share Her Story

It's day number EIGHT out of eleven salvation testimonies to be shared on Selah the days leading up to and just after Easter. I can't think of a better way to celebrate His resurrection than hearing God-stories of souls raised from death to life. So pause. Ponder what He has done. Then praise Him!!!!

How perfect that Joanne's salvation testimony is published on Good Friday. Prepare to worship the One who saves after reading her powerful story. Every time I read it, I do.

In Old Testament Black and White
by Joanne Sher

I didn’t have much experience with Christianity as a kid. I was Jewish, Bat Mitzvahed at 13, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Though my high school wasn’t closed for Jewish holidays, a quarter of the students were absent for the High Holy Days.

My father was raised orthodox; my maternal grandfather was a former cantor; my great aunt still kept kosher. My Jewish roots ran deep, and were important to me.

I do remember, however, my first church service. I was eight or so, and we were visiting my aunt and her family. I don’t remember the service, but I recall the pastor saying something disparaging about Jews, causing me to run out, quite upset. I still don’t remember what he said, but I did not enter a church again for 10 years.

The next one was Catholic. I was in college, dating a Catholic who brought me to Mass. I remember looking up at the front of the church, seeing the crucifix, and feeling more uncomfortable than I ever had before. I kept my eyes down for the rest of the service. That cross haunted me for quite a while.

I had other minor "encounters" with Christianity, but it wasn’t until I was married and living in the Midwest twelve years later that that cross grabbed my attention again.

My husband was nominally Jewish and we both followed our faith for a while. We soon stopped attending synagogue, however, neither of the local ones being to our liking. We still celebrated the major holidays, but nothing more.

I was working as a freelance writer for the local daily paper, and the religion editor had taken a liking to me, so I was writing for him. One day, he called and asked if I would cover a Christian women’s conference the following Saturday. I agreed skeptically, assuming it would be a bunch of fake, mushy women screaming "Hallelujah" and praising God for their wonderful lives.

Was I ever wrong.

The moment I walked into the arena, I felt a camaraderie among the women there, and a peace I simply couldn’t explain. The speakers, who I normally would have dismissed as hokey, resonated with me, and I felt myself filled with the same camaraderie and peace as those around me. I didn’t want to leave.

Unfortunately, I had no choice - I had a deadline to meet! And, as I left the building to walk the three blocks to the newspaper office, I felt that peace leave me just as suddenly as it arrived.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind.

What did those women have that I didn’t?

Could I find that kind of peace in Judaism if I was more devout, or was this a Christian phenomenon?

I decided I needed to start this quest of mine with my own faith. I found my copy of the Hebrew Bible and read the entire Old Testament from beginning to end in two weeks. I also typed out about 20 pages of notes.

Those two weeks brought several things to light, including my lack of obedience to God’s laws, and the emphasis throughout the Old Testament on vengeance and justice.

I knew what I had to do next. I began reading the New Testament. And there, it seemed, were answers to all my questions, comfort from all my fears. I finished the NT in another week, and added another dozen pages of notes to my collection.

Yet, I had some serious misgivings. I saw Jesus as a wonderful man, someone to emulate, but as God? As Messiah? My Jewish background and teachings were digging at me - "God is One," "Christ was a Jew-hater," and other mantras reverberated in my mind. I MIGHT be able to accept Jesus as Lord, but Savior?

Still, I started attending a bible-believing church, and began reading the bible through again. I got many new revelations on the Old Testament the second time through, but none as monumental as the one I received about 5 months after the women’s conference, from Isaiah.
But he was wounded because of our sins,
Crushed because of our iniquities.
He bore the chastisement that made us whole,
And by his bruises we were healed.

Isaiah 53:5 JPS
There it was, in black and while - in the Hebrew Scriptures: Christ’s death on the cross as payment for my sins. At this point, I had no choice. I embraced the cross, and have never turned back.

Joanne Sher is a wife, mother of two, and devoted lover of Jesus. She was saved out of Judaism ten years ago and has a passion for writing, encouraging others in the Lord, and caring for her family. A writer by calling, she enjoys writing devotionals, at Exemplify Online and at her blog An Open Book. She is currently working on editing and polishing Ailing Body, Nourished Soul, a non-fiction book on God’s workings through her husband’s serious health issues. She also loves to write short fiction that glorifies God, and has several novel ideas on the back burner.

14 friends shared a comment:

Denise said...

Praise God, no turning back sweetie.

Yvonne said...


Every time I hear your story, Joanne, it touches me!

Thank you, Lord, for Your Word.


Tracy said...

Wow! What an amazing testimony! Praise God for the incredible way He moved in Joanne's life. This gives me great hope for some Jewish friends of mine. Indeed I've worshipped.

Thank you Lord! thank you JoAnne and thank you for sharing this, Laura Lee!

Terri Tiffany said...

Joanne did a wonderful job! I felt as though I were there with her walking her steps toward Christ:)
Thank you for doing this as we lead up to Easter.


Laura Lee:
Thanks so much for posting a comment on my blog today. Our hearts are very tender toward our Lord Jesus Christ this day - but so thankful for His full obedience to follow-through with the Father's plan.

Yes, the first time I read the scripture that said that Jesus prays for me - I just about fell off the chair... and later that HE LIVES TO INTERCEDE for us! Wow!! He lives to pray for you and me!!

I love the word from the Psalms = Selah - do you know what it really means? I have tried to get a definition - and all I came up with is [stop and rest]. Does it mean stop to ponder? Just wondering if you know the answer since it is in your new title.

Thanks for sharing Joanne's story - I'm jumping over to her blog now. I am in love with any Jewish person who has come to Christ! They get the ultimate PRIZE for their salvation! It is just such a fulfillment of God's glorious plan - unhindered and complete!

The first person I shared Christ with [after my father] was a girlfriend who was Jewish. At age 14 - I had the ZEAL of my salvation written all over me. Needless to say - I thought it was quite simple - she just needed to receive the Savior that was meant for her but she didn't see it that way. She never spoke to me again. I wonder if she ever came to Christ. That put a soft spot in my heart for anyone from the Jewish lineage.

Thanks for all you shared. You touched my heart to remember my own salvation becaues of this post!

Awesome! Keep writing and sharing!
Thanks for taking time to stop by.

Looking UPward and Choosing JOY,
[In Flight]

Debra said...

Such a blessing......Praising the Lord for this testimony today!

Happy Easter, sweet Lalee! Love ya bunches!

JesusRulzMe said...

Oh how beautiful! What an awesome Savior! And how perfect to share this testimony of Christ's redemptive work in the heart of one of His own ~ For the Gospel is first for the Jews, then the Gentiles.

Perfect, perfect article for this Good day!

I love you Lalee! ♥

Julie said...

Joanne has such a great story... I love reading it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and your sweet words. You've blessed me today!

Irritable Mother said...

Absolutely wonderful!
Oh, how He works. Sending Joanne - on "assignment" - to cover a Christian women's event. He has a way, a wonderful way and I love Him soooo much!

Dee Yoder said...

Aww, Jo, this brought tears to my eyes. I knew another Jewish person who also was drawn to Christ through the Spirit he felt in a church meeting, but again, it was the SCRIPTURES that totally won him to Christ. God's Word is ever powerful! Love this testimony.

Leah Orcutt said...

What an awesome story!

Patty Wysong said...

I love hearing your testimony, JoDear. It never fails to move me.

Sherri Ward said...

Joane, I hae read and heard a lot of testimonies over the years, but none quite like this. I am really impressed that you not only read the bible but took notes and you were really seeking out the truth. I am sure God was already at work in your heart because I don't think we can receive the revelation without His Spirit. So glad you received Him!!!

Peter Stone said...

Hi Joanne,
What a wonderful testimony. I am always overjoyed to see someone with a Jewish background coming to accept Jesus as the Messiah. I love the way you read the OT, made a list of questions, and then in reading the NT, had so many of those answered.
God bless :)