Ronnie began attending our Disciple IV discussion group in the Fall of 2017. As he gained confidence with the group and a sense of trust, he shared with us that even though he grew up in a loving family and faithfully attended a Jewish Synagogue, he has now decided to accept and follow Jesus Christ as his Savior.
We asked him if he’d be willing to share with us, “what attracted you to Christ ?”
I already shared with you that I grew up in a Jewish home, and that I am an openly gay man.
I have always found the world to be very segregated, political, judgmental, and hypocritical place……… Outside of prison, as well as inside prison.
In here, you are always divided up into Race, Gang Affiliation, Nationality, Language Capability, Sexual Orientation, Faith Practice, Criminal Record, on and on.
I found Judaism to be a very restrictive and closed faith, offered only to a select few, and focused primarily on history, worship practices, and rules…… not on having any kind of personal relationship with God.
When my sister died, I tried to really lean into the Jewish structure that I had learned, but it just felt like a bunch of rules, without any real focus on any actual Faith. I still felt so empty.
For a long time I have been less than satisfied in my Faith walk, so I began exploring other faiths.
I began attending other different services, but I found that I was unwilling to really accept anything different than the “faith” I had grown up in.
I was attending other services and listening to other’s opinions, only to pick them apart and criticize them.
I had become one of those bullying ass holes that I’d always hated.
I knew I needed to change……
One weekend I offered to go to church with a friend, and he said, “What about today ?”
I remember thinking, “Crap, I shoulda seen that coming !”
But then I agreed to go with him.
I told my friend that I liked the preacher’s message, and then he invited me to stay after church and attend a “Disciple Bible Study” with him. I remember thinking, “Crap….. I have nothing but time on my hands”, so I agreed to stay another two hours.
What I experienced in Disciple Bible Study was a circle of friends that showed me instant love, respect, and would not tolerate the hateful tendencies that are common out in the yard or in the housing units.
I realized that this group of guys were truly different than “the world”, and I wanted to learn more about them and about the Jesus they were studying.
That’s why I am still coming to this study group, and why I decided to accept Jesus as my personal savior.
My newfound relationship with God, through Jesus, has filled the void in my life.
My new Faith Walk forces me to look in the mirror every day to make sure I am becoming a better Christian with every passing day.
I know I’m still very much a work in progress, but I like who I’m becoming.
Back when I was so unhappy, I can now see that I didn’t like myself because I hated everyone else. No wonder I felt so empty.
Now I find Joy in these words :
Love Others as you Love Yourself
Love Others as I have Loved You
They will know you are Christians by your Love.
Now I’m working on helping my Mom understand this major decision that I’ve made for my future.
That’s gonna be another work in progress !