Why I Chose to Make Israel My Home – Story 11

Night sky in the desert

It’s interesting to look back on my journey which took me all the way from Pretoria, South Africa to Israel and see the miraculous hand of God in all He did to get me here.

The story actually begins with my Israeli father who met a South African young woman who was volunteering in Israel. Smitten with her, he followed her home only to have the relationship come to an end and find himself stuck in the place where clearly the Lord had brought him in order to reveal Himself to my dad. While there, he had been able to live with an Arab Christian family and decided to open up a shawarma shop to support himself. One day, my mother, a gentile believer came into the shop and asked my father about his background. When she discovered that he was Israeli, her excitement began to well up as she asked him to spell the name of her Messiah in Hebrew.  

No doubt, God was working on my father non-stop, between my mother and the family where my dad lived, he was being exposed to the message of salvation at every turn. Reluctantly, he agreed to go visit his host family’s Afrikaans church where, although he understood nothing, something was tugging at his heart, and so at the end of the service, he made his way up to the altar and gave his life to the Lord.  

Consequently, I was born into this very unique multi-cultural family who continued to live in Pretoria until I reached the age of 7. It was then that my family decided to return to Israel. We stayed for eight years, and, sadly, my experience was not very positive here as a young child. I was keenly aware that the environment, at that time, was not favorable towards believers, so I would be very quiet about what I believed, too timid to share my faith for fear of how it might be received. We did attend a small home group, but I felt somewhat secluded and failed to connect with other kids in a way that would have rooted me.

Nevertheless, once we returned to South Africa, it didn’t take too long before I began to sense a longing to return to Israel. In fact, it became more and more pronounced, right up to the time when, at the tender age of 19, I met a certain young man who I sensed would be the one I would marry. Not coming from a believing home, my faith seemed a bit strange to him, and although he didn’t connect, he would listen as I spoke about it. I even invited him to my home group which he agreed to attend. It was important to me, because we had already spoken about building a future together, and so I knew just how important it would be for him to come to faith in order to go in the same direction.   

During this time, we were both enrolled at the university, but unrest was becoming rampant, and we found it more and more difficult to attend our classes due to the racist demonstrations against whites. Things got so bad that we were both forced to drop out. We both couldn’t help notice how doors were beginning to close for us. Not only were we unable to study or finish our degree, but neither of us could find jobs without credentials or experience. I remember praying around this time and asking the Lord to make His path known. It was then that I heard the words, “Lech Lecha,” the very same words given to my ancestor Abraham when God spoke to him about heading for the Promised Land.

Yet the timing couldn’t have been worse. Here I was in an unsettled relationship with a man who surely wouldn’t understand my longing for Israel, and when I told him what I’d heard, there was no way he could relate to that call either. He wasn’t yet a believer, and he didn’t know how to hear from God as I had. So I did the only thing I could do. I told him that, as I saw it, we had three options. We could either break up completely, start a long-distance relationship or get married and go together.  

Much to my surprise, he proposed a week later. We got married on a shoestring and were planning our departure for Israel, the land to which God was calling me to return. With what seemed to be the parting of the Red Sea, there was still one more obstacle that stood in our way – money.  We had no funds to even purchase the plane tickets. However, a close family friend, hearing about our dilemma, felt that they wanted to help us, so they provided the full amount of the airfare. It seemed perfect, but I couldn’t help but wonder how we would support ourselves. We’d have to, at least, have enough money for three months’ rent until one of us could find a job – most likely me since my husband didn’t speak Hebrew.

It is at times like this – when God moves mountains in order to accomplish what He has already spoken to us, and move that mountain is what He did.  Coincidentally, right around this time, my mother received a phone call from a lawyer who had managed to track me down, telling her that I was due a sizable inheritance from my late grandmother. No one knew about this, but there it was – an unexpected windfall. It was enough to float us for the first few months and also a sure confirmation that the Lord was behind all of this.

My mother had arranged to contact a very kind lady who agreed to let us stay in an empty room at her house for as long as we needed. In fact, she told us to just pay whatever we wanted. We both felt to give her a certain amount, and, unbeknownst to us, it was the exact amount that she had needed in order to pay off a nagging debt which she had been unable to do. What a blessing that was for both her and us!

Not long after, I found work at a tourist shop, but the job was so demanding, I would work 12 hours a day and weekends. It was taking its toll on our newly married life as I had very little free time and felt exhausted. My husband, unable to work, was doing his best to learn the language, but I’m sure he felt as if life was difficult and lonely.

So it was truly providential when an invitation was extended to us to come eat a Shabbat dinner with some people to whom we were introduced.  That one evening became such an answer to prayer. The dinner itself sparked life into my husband, and I could see him get excited about the possibilities of life here. It was also through that dinner that a job opportunity opened up for me – something for which I’d been praying. I was able to work for a start-up company at a much higher salary and fewer hours. Eventually they also hired my husband.  

God moved heaven and earth for the two of us, and now, looking back, more than a year later, I could never have imagined that life would be this satisfying, this prosperous and this full. My husband did come to faith in the Lord – something which I knew would happen as I waited patiently. Life in Israel has been one blessing after another. We are thrilled to finally be home and walk the path which has been provided for us.