Everyone loves a good story.
I know I do! They may be funny and make me smile, or even laugh out loud. They may be emotionally moving—causing me to feel deeply what others have felt and even make me shed a sympathetic tear. Or the story might even be filled with new insights that lead me to an “a-ha” moment that can significantly change my life.
Storytelling holds a special place in Jewish life and tradition. The Hebrew Bible is full of stories. So is the Talmud. Jewish people have skillfully enlisted storytelling in service to religious truth for thousands of years.
We all know that a good story does not simply tell you what happened, but engages you mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Good stories often lead to a point designed to make an impact in your life and the lives of others. A good story draws your imagination into a vivid world that holds out the promise of transformation—a promise that it is often able to deliver. These are really the best kind of stories! God made us to be very complex creatures and we need all of our senses engaged in order to be moved to the point where we can actually consider changing our behavior or begin thinking differently about life.
Mark Twain, in his little book entitled, How to Tell a Story, writes, “I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years.”
Storytelling is more than just a skill. It is an art. Some of us are better than others in spinning a yarn, telling a shaggy dog story, recounting a humorous incident or simply describing events in the way that helps the listener or reader feel as though they experienced the event for themselves. Not everyone can easily communicate the emotion, feelings, poignancy and pathos of life’s events. So many of us will admit that when we go to synagogue or church and listen to a sermon, we walk away remembering the point made through a story far more than anything else the rabbi or minister said.
Mark Twain added his thoughts on the most difficult stories to tell, “There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous…The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art—and only an artist can tell it… .”
I think the author of Proverbs puts it best: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
We all like a good laugh and a good cry. Stories, whether told, written, filmed or acted should be viewed as a gift from God to His creation. From Genesis on, our distinctively Jewish take on creation and humanity is reflected in our stories. As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov once declared, “People tell their children stories to put them to sleep. I tell people stories to wake them up.”
I hope you will enjoy these moving stories of individuals who found shalom—peace—through their encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Yeshua, who is called the Prince of Peace. And may I be so bold as to say that I hope they “wake you up”?
The I Found Shalom Website
This is one of the reasons we created the I Found Shalom website. After all, if there’s one story we can all tell—it is the story of our lives. It is very difficult to argue or debate another person’s experience and try to determine if it is true or false. But if we are receptive to another’s story, we may find that it reaches us in unexpected ways. I hope that you will enjoy the following stories, which describe the ways in which these individuals had a personal encounter with the God of the universe.
Each one of the storytellers is Jewish and experienced what may be described as a “dramatic encounter” with the Messiah of Israel—Yeshua (Jesus). We have condensed and summarized their more lengthy and very personal accounts, which are on the website, for you to read and enjoy. After you have read them, I hope your interest will be piqued enough for you to go to the website and watch them. These men and women come from every walk of life: business professionals, moms, dads, old and young. Yet, all of them say something that is remarkably similar—that meeting their Messiah has enabled them to experience the peace and joy of knowing the One who made them.
If you are already a believer in the Messiah, I know that these stories will greatly encourage you as you see God work in the lives of others. If you are a seeker and not yet a follower of Messiah Yeshua, I hope that these written summaries and then the video stories themselves will make you laugh and even move you to the depths of your soul. My prayer is that you might discover exactly what these storytellers have experienced as well.
Finding Shalom in the Messiah
It was more than 40 years ago that I had the same experience! I was raised in a traditional Jewish home in New York City. When I was 19 years old, my two best friends became followers of Jesus the Messiah. Quite frankly, I was not looking for a relationship with God and I especially was not looking for Jesus. Like many of my generation, I was raised to believe that He was the enemy of the Jewish people and inspiration for antisemitism. Most Jewish people I knew believed the same way.
But, my two best Jewish friends became followers of Jesus amidst a host of incredible circumstances. Although I couldn’t deny their experience, I would argue to the best of my ability to show that they were wrong and that Jewish people should not believe in Jesus. They did not argue back! As I watched their lives change and their new stories continued to touch my life, I saw their shalom in the midst of difficult circumstances. I was amazed to see them pray and speak to God as if He was right next to them. Then I began reading the Bible. I was completely mesmerized by the parables—the stories that Yeshua told in the New Testament. Slowly, my eyes began to open and finally I recognized that Yeshua was the Messiah of Israel for both Jews and Gentiles.
I hope you enjoy these delightful and sincere storytellers!
Visit the website and watch the videos and request the booklet you will find offered there!
And now… on to the stories!
Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries
(and one of the storytellers!)