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Journey to Judiasm from Evangelical Christian.

Journey to Judiasm  from Evangelical Christian.

My name is Emmanuil and I'm from the small Balkan country of Bulgaria.

This is the story of my journey to Judaism.

I was born in the year 1993 to a very devout evangelical Christian family. Ever since we were small children my parents used to raise me and my brother in a religious household and environment where we would go to church twice a week, pray, bless for our food and do almost daily Bible studies at home. My parents used to know personally all the big spiritual leaders and pastors in my hometown, visiting each other at our homes and maintaining deep friendships with them on a high level. With all this being said, one would wonder why I'm not the model example of the perfect Christian boy today?

Despite my upbringing, I was quite a handful as a small child and always had my own personal opinion on all matters. I was never an atheist and I never had a doubt for the existence of a Creator, but I had my own understanding of G-d and what a G-d should be like...

I used to ponder a lot as a child about the existence of G-d, about how He cannot be anything like His creation, How He cannot be anything but a One G-d, how He would be all knowing and all powerful, Almighty, everything would depend on Him but He would not be dependent on anything - for me, this was the G-d I believed in as a child. I have always considered myself a monotheist even at that early stage in my upbringing. In our Bible readings with my family I was being introduced to people like Abraham, David, Joseph and Moses; I used to get introduced to the commandments of G-d and naturally I was amazed at the stories of their passionate devotion to Him and His laws. The so called "Old Testament" was so exciting for me and I started to make a connection between what it said and what I believed as a child until we would get to the second part of the book and I would be introduced to the supposed three persons of god, a man of flesh and blood (Yeshu) who was born from the womb of a woman and whom I was suddenly in need to acknowledge as something else than a mere man! I couldn't wrap my childhood brain on how and why G-d would need to change His concise and clear message to mankind (of following His laws), and demand a human sacrifice with abandonment of the Torah instead? I couldn't understand why He would previously punish people in the Old Testament for worshiping created beings and products of human hands and yet demand that people worship Him only through a man in the New Testament? I couldn't understand why He would reveal His supposed new message in Greek as opposed to Hebrew, all of a sudden?

This was just a part of the things I struggled with as a child, all the different people visiting my house used to try and explain how their god is like an egg (with three parts to it), but I knew that my G-d was not an egg! Despite my family's best efforts to explain to me that now the church is the new Israel and we do things differently I silently lost my interest in the Bible all together understanding it to be some kind of a mistake or a good story gone wrong.

Fast forward in my life, I was developing into a teenager and even though I still had no doubt in the existence of this One G-d from my childhood, I was interested only in living my life and having fun at the time. "I would look for G-d later, I'll worry about this when I'm old" I thought.

Fast forward even further, when I was about to graduate from high school, I was excited about wrestling and lifting weights. Going to parties, having lots of friends, I met a new girlfriend, I started my first real job as a security guard at a nightclub, I still felt like I had no time to ask questions about G-d at the age of 19 - teen either.

One could say I had almost everything a guy like me would dream for at that time.

However, all this carefree lifestyle was about to change real soon for me, and G-d would soon remind me of His existence...

I came back home from a regular night out with my friends, around the early hours of the morning, washed up and got to bed like any other time. Nothing out of the ordinary so far, yet this time it turned out to be something very special and a big turning point in my life. I went to bed, quickly dozed off to sleep and had an extraordinary dream. Now despite what you might expect this dream was not some supernatural experience, I didn't hear voices or see any flashing images, yet I still call it special because I somehow was able to envision something even more important for my life at the time...

What I understood in my dream was what a horrible lifestyle I was actually living, how empty and how sad I was. How disappointed of myself and how ashamed I was for the things I did in comparison to what G-d did for me on a regular basis. He provided me with food so I can have the energy to go and do bad deeds, he gave me a mouth and I used it to speak evil all day, He made me healthy and I sinned in return. As cliche as it may be, I woke up from that dream determined to be a new person, to finally put my life in order and find what my purpose in life is - it was finally time to look for my Father in Heaven!

I understood right away that I couldn't continue and live the way I lived, and no partying, getting into trouble with my horrible friends at the time, or anything else for that matter could fill the spiritual void in my soul. I did what I thought was the best thing to do in my situation at the time and just isolated myself from almost everyone I knew, I cut all contact with my former friends. I quit my job, at the nightclub and virtually locked myself at my house and devoted my time to figuring out what I needed to do next. All day long I would watch debates about religion and all types of lectures trying to figure out the truth, I cried and I prayed a lot, I spent a lot of sleepless nights calling out to G-d and asking for Him to help me find the right path. This period was the start of my search for G-d and it took about three years of my life to find the religion I today believe to be the truth. After looking at the doctrines of christianity and doing research on Islam, I finally decided to look at what the people of Israel had to offer. After all, the Jews were "the people of the book" and the origin for the knowledge of the G-d of Abraham. When I started researching about Judaism I had the shock of my life, I was extremely impressed with the account of a first and only national revelation of G-d to a whole nation of people - men, women and children at the foot of mount Sinai! How according to Judaism, the Creator never changed His mind and never gave a New Testament or a Q'uran, but maintained His promises and covenants to His people. When I looked at the Rambam's 13 principles of faith I couldn't believe what I was reading, especially the first five principles of faith touched my heart deeply and I knew these are the words of my G-d, the one I dreamed about in my childhood! I still didn't know much about Judaism and my knowledge gaps were tremendous but my enthusiasm was very strong, I didn't want to waste a second from now on. I abandoned eating unclean animals even with my limited and in some ways not accurate understanding at the time, started keeping Shabbat according to how I understood it at the time and threw the New Testament literally out the window as far as I could! I also found a day job and I saved up money for a lot of new books, I bought a Chumash, a Tanach, a Kitzur Shulchan aruch and I even saved up money and had a medical Circumcision at a hospital. I didn't even know how to properly serve G-d, about the Noahide laws or even that I needed to Convert first in order to be Jewish... All I knew was I finally found the truth, I was happy and excited. In the eyes of my family I was undoubtedly crazy, and we used to debate a lot about my newfound faith but I was determined to keep my beliefs.

At this stage I was blessed with another big event in my life, I met the person who would help me tremendously in my journey, I met with Rabbi Yaron Reuven on Facebook and began to ask him questions. I started learning from him and his lectures on a daily basis. He even helped me to come in contact with the Jewish community in the Capital of Bulgaria and start a conversion process there. A little before I started the conversation process, me and my family left my hometown and started a small dairy farm in the country. As you would imagine it wasn't easy for me, but Rabbi Reuven basically took me under his wing and supported me even financially so I could visit the Jewish community in Sofia and study for my conversion, for which I would always be grateful to him. Now I'm 26 years old and hopefully at the end of my conversion and at the end of my spiritual journey.

I hope the people who are reading this short summary of my story will find it interesting, but above all inspirational. I didn't have the privilege to be born Jewish and I had to sacrifice everything I know and love in order to pursue what some people take for granted - just to call myself an ordinary Jew and follow the laws of the Torah, and I'm still fighting for that dream today.

My message to you is be grateful and appreciate your Judaism! There is no other thing like the Torah or the G-d of Israel in this world, you have been given a tremendous blessing and honor to be able to call yourself a servant of Hashem - a Jew! And I pray and hope that my journey will help you realize what you have and cherish the enormous treasure that you were given.

Emmanuil Angelov

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