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My Testimony
« on: August 08, 2017, 12:25:23 am »
My name is Jimmy Sperling. I am a Jewish person who came to faith in Yeshua in Eugene, Oregon in December 1976.

I was brought up in a very secular environment.  I remember when I was very young I went to Sabbath school at a Reform synagogue, but my mother withdrew me from there some time after she divorced my father.  For a time I was taken to a Christian church, but then she decided not to have anything to do with religion.  In later years she would refer to herself as a “plutocrat”, meaning she did not want to have anything to do with religion or politics.

In my ninth year my mother had me institutionalized. This was a place called Parry Center for Children. After being there for a year or two I was allowed to go to a regular public school starting with the fifth grade.
I began to become politically aware in the eighth grade. Then, in my freshman year in high school, I discovered a organic food store (People’s Food Store in Portland, OR) and began volunteering to do shifts there. I also joined Friends of the Earth.

After my eighteenth birthday I moved home with my mother and my two sisters. I lived at home for a year, then went into the Job Corps. I spent a year practicing pre-apprenticeship carpentry before I learned that I had the makings of an architect, but made a lousy carpenter.

I came back to Oregon and moved out on my own after a month or two. I couldn’t find a job, so I spent most of 1976 being homeless. I dabbled with Buddhism for some time, made a little money during the summer, qualified for a Pell grant and entered the University of Oregon in Eugene that fall.  Once again, I ran out of money and became homeless again.  During this time I was helping out the Revolutionary Student Brigade on campus.

Towards the end of November I was staying at the local mission when one day a man approached me and asked me if I wanted to join a white supremacy party. I responded that racism was a tool used to divide the workers of America against one another. He asked me if I was a socialist, and I responded that “If you mean to ask if I believe that our elected leaders don’t really run the country, then, yes, I’m a socialist”.  He left very angry.  About half an hour later a mission staff member told me that I had to leave.
That night I went to a halfway house (a ministry of Faith Center in Eugene and NOT affiliated with Shiloh Youth Revival Centers) and the next night I went to a Wednesday night service and there dedicated my life to God.
I had been a college student when I came to faith, and only a month or two later, a brother at the house gave me a copy of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

In the spring of 1977 the pastor of my house recommended that I join Shiloh. I eventually went to the Portland house and all that summer and fall was struggling with an articulation of Jewish identity and faith in Yeshua. I was helped in my quest by the current house pastor, who had a copy of LAMB's first album. I also began a quest through the prophets of Israel and Judah to see if some of the particular eschatological doctrines taught in Shiloh had Biblical sanction. In mid-1977, a new house pastor took over in Portland who was antagonistic to Jewish issues. The kicker came when I went to a local concert by the Liberated Wailing Wall, a Jews for Jesus ministry. I brought home copies of the Jews for Jesus Newsletter. When the house pastor found them, he exploded, "If I find any more of this stuff here, I'm going to kick you out!"

I had started working there at the tree nursery that we had a contract with, but I was fired the first day basically for witnessing on the job. For several months I tried working out of a temp agency (to no avail), then got a swing shift job working in a Troutdale window assembly plant. I saw the other people in the house only occasionally during the week except for the kitchen staff. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) cooking tremendously and prepared many Ashkenazic foods for house consumption. This apparently did not sit well with the new pastor, who was just fine with Mexican foods, but somehow making Jewish Penicillin (chicken soup) or bagels were being "UNDER THE LAW".

That fall, I moved to the Eugene house to plant trees, where I was seriously injured. After recuperating, I was sent to the South Lake Tahoe house in December 1977. At first, things were OK because we had a laid-back house pastor, but after about six months he got married and gave up his position. That was just about the time that Shiloh imploded, and who should take over at the South Lake Tahoe house but the former house pastor of the Portland house -- the Chicano anti-Semite! I had similar unfortunate experiences there dealing with my faith and culture. One evening a non-Messianic Jewish person visited and, accompanied by a house deacon I spent half an hour telling him why I thought Yeshua was the Messiah foretold in our Scriptures. Suddenly the deacon blurted out something offensive. The man went away. The deacon then turned to me and said, "From
now on, Jim, just witness from the New Testament." When I objected, he slapped his hand on my shoulder and shouted, "JIM, RECEIVE IT!!!" Sometime later, I made hot pastrami sandwiches for the house. This same brother later said, "Jim, I perceive that you are `under the law'". This while at the same time a visiting Chicano sister is teaching us to make flour tortillas from scratch.

Sometime in October 1978 I went to a neighborhood store and started looking at porno magazines. Another brother caught me there and turned me into the house pastor. He took me aside and said that I was not suited to communal living and set up a deal so that I could move out into an apartment on my own in December of that year.

Basically, in this ministry, I learned to be a "closeted Jew". Being Jewish was something to be ashamed of in this ministry and I believe that it did me psychological damage that came out in sexual matters (obsession with porn, etc.).

I also have come to believe that the breaking up of this ministry was the judgment of God upon its manifestly anti-Semitic doctrines (to wit, Jerusalem is Babylon the Great, the Magen David is the symbol of Molech, etc., which I found to be contradicted by the entire contents of the books of the Jewish Prophets) and its profoundly personality cult-like teachings (no Bible but the KJV, no contact with any other Christian groups (a perversion
of I Corinthians 12:14-26, i.e., other ministries or denominations are "other parts of the Body" and that we should have nothing to do with them), never having communion because of fear that someone might eat or drink in an unworthy manner (a perversion of I Corinthians 11:27-32 -- I think that during my sojourn from March 1977 until December 1978, we had communion ONE time); the process of having group prayer meetings when somebody was expelled from the house and some leader in the meeting proceeding to announce while we were praying that "I deliver so-and-so to Satan for the destruction of his flesh", which was a perversion of I Corinthians 5:4,5 and really seemed to be a fascist means of keeping the body in line. It certainly made me very fearful of expressing anything contrary to the "conventional wisdom". Also, the way people came back from the six-month Bible class was disheartening. They seemed to have been spoon-fed the denominational eschatology to such a degree that they did not approach the Bible with intellectual honesty (in other words, they read the Bible in order to prove what they already believed, NOT to see what the Bible said for itself).

Here is a quote from Don Finto's book "Your People Shall Be My People":
Liebe Don Finto: Liest du die Bibel, um zu sehen, was die Bibel sagt, oder liest du sie nur, eine Predigt vorzubereiten? (Dear Don Finto: do you read the Bible in order to see what the Bible says for itself, or do you read it just to prepare a sermon?)

After moving out on my own I encountered some Christian waitresses at Harrah’s Tahoe.  It turned out that they were associated with The Way International.  I was associated with that group until 1983.
In that year I went far downhill, losing my job and becoming homeless again for most of the year.  I finally found a “room and board” and got a job washing dishes at the end of 1983.

I entered Lake Tahoe Community College in the spring of 1985, taking an occasional history or humanities class and taking up instruction on the piano, and continued this until the fall of 1988.

1n the fall of 1988 I sinned grievously and was prosecuted. I pled guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison.  With time off for good behavior, I spent three years in prison. During that time I began corresponding with Artis Clotfelter, a Jewish missionary.

When I came out of prison 1n 1992, Artis and her husband helped me get set up in Placerville. I had some ups and downs that year – got and then lost a couple of jobs very quickly, became homeless for a while, and got established in a new church.  That church suffered a split when the pastor became Orthodox and wanted everybody to join him. I went on Social Security disability in the winter of 1994, and until the spring of 1997 lived in the same place.
In 1999 the church joined New Covenant Ministries International and got a new pastor. He totally revised the church leadership.

In the spring of 1998, I spent some time in county jail. I then got re-established and lived at one place until 2004, completing my AA degree in 2001 and transferring to Sacramento State.  I went to that school from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2004. I then lost my house and got booted out of school. That spring I discovered Beth Yeshua Messianic Congregation when I went to their annual Passover Seder.
From 2004 to 2006, I lived in a board-and-care house, chafing greatly under the restrictions there.  I started over in the Los Rios system.  In 2006 I moved to a room-and-board in Sacramento and mostly have had a better time of it.

Currently, I have considerable involvement at St. Stephen AME Zion Church, studying towards obtaining a license as an Exhorter.  I studied at Sacramento City College from the fall of 2006 to the spring of 2011 for degrees in Art and Graphic Communications and became a fan of the Mac and became proficient at Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

I am currently engaged in several hobbies. I study Hebrew and Talmudic, Messianic and Biblical hermeneutics and apologetics as part of my studies. I read incessantly, studying history, philosophy, and comparative religions.  As part of Larry Bond’s Admiralty Trilogy R & D staff I compile data on old ships and aircraft in order to integrate them as new platforms for that system, in particular for Command at Sea, the portion of the system covering the period 1925 – 1960 (for which my current projects are separate comprehensive listings of civil aircraft and obscure military aircraft of the era (the latter provisionally titled Swan Song of the Fighting Biplane). I write an occasional historical article or war game scenario, I dabble in amateur photography, I enjoy Mediterranean and West Asian/North African cookery, I collect books, audiobooks, and e-books (now including a comprehensive Messianic Jewish and Christian research library). I volunteer occasionally with Sacramento Food Not Bombs preparing and serving free meals to the public. I have also been involved in Prop 215 patients’ rights – A Christian couple here in Sacramento operate a dispensary as a Christian ministry of compassion… Bryan and Lanette Davies. Bryan is a ‘tea party’ type, while Lanette is on the board of directors of the Northern California ACLU and is also on the staff of Crusaders for Patients’ Rights, a Christian-based patients’ lobby.

Recently, I started getting involved at Beth Yeshua again, mainly because the congregation moved to a more convenient location in Midtown Sactown. I’ve just started putting back together a reference library, including a brand-new Messianic-oriented study Bible, The Complete Jewish Study Bible.

Here's some food for thought from a conscious-raising translation of the Bible:

"Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.
Matt. 5:17 (CJB)

For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.
Romans 10:4 (CJB)

We are Jews by birth, not so-called 'Gentile sinners'; even so, we have come to realize that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua's trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of the Messiah's trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous.
Galatians 2:15, 16 (CJB)

"The Bible is a universe, and Yeshua didn't come to start a new religion. He came to complete an old one."
Rabbi Greg Hershberg; Congregational leader, Beth Yeshua International, Macon, GA.



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Re: My Testimony
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2017, 06:50:07 pm »
That was very brave of you to write all of that out for people like me to read - thank you for sharing. You've clearly been through a lot, and I admire how you're sticking to faith through it all, especially despite some really horrid Christians (and I feel I can call Christians horrid, I am one, and I've heard of legalism like you're talking about, it's just the worst). I am curious, what faith would you consider yourself now? What guides your beliefs, other than those verses you referenced at the end (those are good choices, BTW)?