The Most Special Relationship of All

What I grew up with was a fear of and reverence for God but, in hindsight, what I didn’t know was the love of God. As for Yeshua, he was never really mentioned or, when he was, it was normally in the context of, “Oh! He was a great prophet”. So, in practice, Yeshua was just comfortably categorised, put aside and not really dealt with. My synagogue attendance ceased after my Bar Mitzvah. At that time, I was able to convince my father that playing football for my school was a much better way of spending my time. Football was the love of my life. My wife would probably tell you that it still is! So from the age of fourteen, it only took me a few years to marginalise God and then ignore him. From then on I really did whatever I wanted to do. That meant I did pretty much everything.
Was it fun? Probably I thought it was fun for a while. But ultimately it wasn’t and I found myself leading quite an empty and aimless life. I led that life for many years!

Nobody’s Fool

I won’t regale you with all the twists, turns and coincidences that led me to meet and start going out with my wife, Alison; but back in 1993, she was my girlfriend. I knew that she was a committed Christian. At first, in my arrogance, I found it faintly amusing but later on I found it very threatening. She was always trying to persuade me go to church with her, as she hoped that I would join her in her belief in Yeshua as the Messiah. At that time she attended the 11am Sunday service at All Souls in Langham Place, London and she wanted me to attend Christianity Explored, back then called a Christianity Explained course, held there on Monday nights. I thought to myself, “Fat chance! Here I am, an intelligent man; I’m a lawyer, I’m a sceptic. I know my stuff; I’m nobody’s fool.” “Not for me,” I thought. So the answer really was an emphatic no! “Apart from anything else,” I thought, “I am a Jew”. The Christian world has traditionally been a hostile place for Jews and I wasn’t about to willingly go to a place I believed to be full of enemies. But my most immediate and tangible excuse was, “Look, I play five-aside football at 11am on Sundays and 7pm on Mondays!” Wow, what a coincidence. Couldn’t do it – sorry.

Mystery footballer

I played in a team where if you lost your place, even for a week, you would be out of the squad for many weeks, maybe months. “I wasn’t having it,” I told her, adding, “and that is that”. Except it wasn’t, because what I didn’t know then, but do know now, is that we can’t fight God’s will, much as we like to try. Within a few months, another player turned up on Sundays. No one knew where he had come from; he wasn’t anyone that we knew. Everyone assumed that he was a friend of a friend and that he was filling in. Anyway, one day he fouled me really badly. I don’t think he meant to do it but it was terrible; I fell down quite badly and it brought my football career to an abrupt and shattering end. With it went my most tangible excuse for not going along with Alison. So to placate her I did go along to Christianity Explained at All Souls; but it’s fair to say I took with me not only considerable reservations, which were insurmountable in my eyes, but also considerable hostility.


So I did the course. I found that even approaching it from the standpoint of a highly sceptical lawyer, I couldn’t actually pick holes in what I was being taught and shown. And that was a real surprise to me I can tell you. What was more of a surprise was that I agreed to do the six-week course all over again.

I was interested to find out more but it was also very unsettling for me and, to be frank, I don’t know why I agreed to do it again. But I did. It was about that time that Alison dropped a bombshell. She told me that she herself had been going through torment; I guess I already knew. She said that it was the only time in her life that she had felt God was speaking to her. She believed that she must end our relationship. That was a very tough time for us. It was heart breaking really, because I wanted to be with Alison, and Alison wanted to be with me. But I couldn’t pretend to be something that I wasn’t. And furthermore, I still viewed the prospect of believing in Yeshua in terms of switching cultural identities and thought that becoming a Christian would mean a betrayal of my Jewish heritage. It was an unimaginable prospect for me and I just couldn’t see it happening.

We were fortunate in receiving wise and supportive counselling from the leader of the Christianity Explained group. He himself was a man from an Indian background so I think he understood quite well what I was going through. To cut a long story short, I decided to see the course through. In my heart I didn’t expect anything to come of it. Also, I began to come to terms with the prospect of ending my relationship with Alison. What I never, never expected was that this would be the start of the most special relationship of all.

Wake up and smell the coffee

I remember one Sunday morning being in a café round the corner from All Souls. Alison was attending a service there and I was waiting for her. I had my breakfast and a coffee in front of me, three heavy Sunday newspapers to read and I thought, “That’s fine”. But I had also brought a Bible with me to do my homework, reading from the Gospel of Mark. I thought it would only take me a few minutes and that I could get it out of the way first.

The next thing I knew, one and a half hours had passed. My coffee was cold and the breakfast uneaten. The newspapers were unopened for I had realised that I had been reading the truth, pure and simple, and I found it exhilarating. However, it was closely followed by a feeling of panic because I began to realise the consequences it would have in my life. What of my identity? What of my Jewish heritage? Most of all, what of my family and my Jewish friends?

But first things first; I suddenly knew then that Yeshua was alive and was my Messiah. I think I discovered what the first followers of Yeshua must have felt. For me it was as if Yeshua had recently been crucified and had risen from the dead, and I had just heard the good news of his resurrection. I felt such a tremendous sense of excitement. I had never known it before but I quickly came to see that as a Jew I had come into my full inheritance. However, what a mountain it was to climb in terms of my life and my family and my friends. I know that I could never have seen it through alone, but I did not have to because God held my hand every step of the way. The obstacles were miraculously removed, even as they arose – and there were many obstacles!

Alison and I were married in December 1996. It was a miracle that every single member of my large extended Jewish family, and all of my friends, came to the ceremony. Some even commented on how moving they found it, even though Yeshua was so central to the ceremony.

We got married under a traditional Chuppah, the canopy under which Jewish couples get married. It gave a Jewish identity to my wedding but the most important thing about our day was that God was there.

I can’t say that my life as a follower of Yeshua has been easy. It’s not a soft option for anyone – let alone for Jewish people – and Yeshua does not magic-away all our troubles. Also, being a follower of Yeshua does not mean that I’m perfect, far from it. It amazes me just how often I say or do or think something that is wrong in the eyes of God. It makes me realise just how unworthy I am of God’s love. But I know God’s love and I know that Yeshua is The Way, The Truth and The Life. I’ve found peace with the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Yeshua the Messiah, the one promised by God through our prophets. I have the most special relationship of all.
Julian Abraham
Julian’s story is taken from The Unusual Suspects, a collection of testimonies of Jewish believers published in November 2008 by Christian Focus Publications.
For more details see The Unusual Suspects article.

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