My story starts when I was very young. I was ten years old when the harsh reality of life hit me full force. My very best friend, someone who was closer to me than a brother, died from a malignant brain tumor. I had no way to deal with this great loss because I was what one could call the textbook definition of an abused child. I had a mother who would put cigarettes out on my body. I endured physical and emotional abuse in the worst way you can imagine throughout my entire childhood. That was the reality that I was born into. – by Yechiel Aviv
My Starting Point: Abuse, Violence, Loss
After losing my very best friend at age ten to cancer, it’s no surprise that I found myself in a boarding school for troubled teens just a few years later. My life at the boarding school, however, didn’t improve, and continued to be defined by by violence and abuse—a reality that just became routine. Being torn down and humiliated, abused, witnessing difficult things was how I grew up. It’s also no surprise where it eventually led me: by the age of nineteen, I was using hard-core drugs and hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. By the age of twenty-five, the sky collapsed on me.
After medicating my pain for years with powerful drugs, I suddenly lost all sense of who I was. One day I got up and didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I didn’t know my name. I didn’t know the people in my family I was living with. I experienced a complete blackout, a complete disconnect from reality. It was the most terrifying experience—there’s nothing darker than realizing that you are standing on the edge of insanity. At that moment, I was faced with two options: either commit suicide or fight for my life. And fighting for my life meant fighting for my sanity, which was the hardest part.
The Fight for Sanity
When I decided that I was going to fight for my life, I somehow knew that there was someone on the other side, someone who heard me. During this journey, the battle for my sanity, I asked this someone for help. I would cry out, “If you can hear me, I am begging for help, that someone will save me because I am in complete darkness!”
God sends me three emissaries
In response to my cry, God, of course, sent help. Over the years in my struggle back to life, three different people came to me with the Isaiah 53 prophecy about the Messiah. However, without even reading the prophecy, I rejected them. I told them, “Guys, this just isn’t the direction.” The one thing that I did know is that God speaks in the language of love and light. Everywhere I searched for what spoke of these concepts, love and light. My search led me in many differet directions: I went to an ultra-orthodox Yeshiva (religious school). I tried Buddhism. You name it, I tried it. But nothing was “it”.
The Fourth Emissary
One morning while I was waiting for a bus, I was approached by a woman who started sharing the gospel to me. The best way I can describe her is an “energy bomb for Yeshua”. She was excited and full of passion, and my reaction to her was, “Wait a minute. Slow down for a moment because you’re coming on really strong here.” Needless to say, I rebuffed her, but, at the same time, I realized that something strange was going on: this was the fourth time that someone was bringing me this same Yeshua in the prophecy of Isaiah 53.
God ambushes me
God would not let me off the hook so easily. He heard me when I cried out to Him when I was twenty-five, and He continued pursuing me with the right answer to my plea. Not long after this “pushy” woman Adriana from the bus stop tried to share about Yeshua, I started a new job at a special education facility. On one of the first days on the job, I suddenly heard a loud, familiar voice saying, “Shalom, good morning everyone!” I turned around and whom do I see but Adriana from the bus stop.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her in surprise.
“What are you doing here?” she asked me.
When we realized that we both worked there, we started laughing. “I think God is planning something here!” she told me with a twinkle in her eye. In our time working together, I discovered what an amazing, compassionate and passionate woman of God Adriana is. She told me that she was praying for me and that she would gladly connect me to a couple guys from her congregation if I ever wanted to learn about Yeshua.
Eventually, I decided that I needed to understand what this Isaiah 53 prophecy is all about. I finally opened the book of Isaiah and began reading this powerful prophecy about the Messiah for the first time. As I was reading, I prayed, “I don’t know who you are, who this Yeshua is, but I’m asking You, God, please, I need an answer. ” At that moment, I felt something that is hard to describe: I felt as if two hands were physically holding my own hands, and I began trembling all over. When I finally calmed down, I immediately called Adriana and asked her to put me in touch with the two men from her congregation. Moti and Kosta, two amazing men from Tiferet Yeshua, reached out to me and we began studying the New Testament together.
Coming Home to Yeshua
Reading the New Testament, I discovered the spiritual concepts that I always knew were the language of God: love and light. The more I read and learned, the more I realized that Yeshua was the love and the light I was always looking for.
I continued studying with Moti and Kosta and attending services at Tiferet Yeshua every week. One evening during worship at Tiferet Yeshua, I had a powerful encounter with Yeshua: we were singing “How good is your lovingkindness to me, O God of my salvation,” and suddenly I felt like I was standing in a waterfall of love. I began weeping like a baby, and from that moment I knew that I had come home and gave my life to Yeshua.
It is simply a miracle what Yeshua has done in my life. Today I understand in a deeper way that I didn’t go through that long, difficult journey in my life for nothing. I understand that I have a purpose to share my story and to help others who are in darkness. Yeshua is the only hope, He is the light, and even in the darkest times in your life, you can lift up your head because there is hope in Him.
Redeeming the Irredeemable
One of the greatest miracles in my life was how God redeemed my broken relationship with my family. In the darkest period of my life, I cut ties with my family because they weren’t there for me. The whole difficult story of my parents, how they had treated me over the years, the abuse, I just put it all aside and blamed them for everything. When I started walking with Yeshua, I began to learn what true forgiveness and love are. He taught me to open up the darkest places in me to His love. After twelve years of not talking with my family, I got back in touch with them, and God began healing our relationship. The love and respect that exist between us now is something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. The love and the light of Yeshua have changed me miraculously!