Born to love – Glenn Osher

Glenn OsherDeprived of the love he needed as a child, Glenn learned to provide for and satisfy himself,  and doing so at the expense of others did not trouble him. When the love of God dawned on him at the age of twenty-nine, Glenn’s perspective on life changed. When we are truly loved, we too can truly love. Love is giving, more than receiving. Today Glenn is used as a channel of that love that comes straight from the Source and knows no bounds. Glenn testifies how easy  it is for a Jew to love Muslims and even Palestinians – once they are humbled by the Cross. This is an edited version of Glenn’s testimony.

I was born into a Jewish family in 1960 in the Florence Nightingale Hospital in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. I was almost not born, but the God I never knew throughout my childhood and early adult life said, ‘this little boy must be born. I have a plan and a purpose for him to meet Me and share My love with the world.’

My precious mom was pregnant with me almost five months before she got married to my father. Their parents were disgusted. Mom and Dad were in two minds – to have me aborted, or not. Thank God I’m now fifty-six years of age and here to tell the story.

I remember my dear Dad telling the family that our Mom is mad and she is not allowed to give love to me, Glenn, her eldest child and only son. I also remember sucking my thumb, wetting my bed, peeing on the carpet and out the window, having nightmares very often, and being hit-disciplined by my Dad with a leather belt on average three times a week on my backside. I remember being scared to cross the passage to go to the toilet, going to school without bathing many times, being called a bloody Jew all the years until now. At school, in the streets, etc. No lunch for school, very hungry, boxing the bullies often, seeing strife, bitterness, unforgiveness, sulking, offence, anger, rage, stubbornness, stiff-neckedness, no respect. Wasting time, lies, fear, etc.

I could not concentrate at school. I found myself looking for attention – pea shooting, acting like Charlie Chaplin for the class behind the teachers back until I was caught and thrown out. The principal often got me outside the classroom and sent me to wait at his office where he would come after what seemed like hours later to get me to bend over and I got an average of three to six “cuts” from a stick on an average of once a week. I failed standard three and standard six and was pushed into standard eight. I was so frustrated, confused, anxious, and all the other negative emotions. Somehow I knew inside of me, I’m not going to give up. I knew I had to just keep on keeping on.

At age ten, I remember praying to God to please save me and my family from all the torment-chaos at home. I thought God never answered my prayer as we – my four sisters and I – were taken by the Jewish Welfare Organization to court where the Magistrate hit his hammer on the table and said the five kids will go to Arcadia Jewish Orphanage in Parktown, Johannesburg, and our dear Mom will go to Krugersdorp sanatorium / mental institution /mad house. God answered my prayer by putting us in an ordered orphanage environment where we got love, were not scared to go bathing. Out of confusion into a normal Jewish religious life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch box for school, Cheider learning Hebrew for my Jewish bar mitzvah, learning about kosher food, Sabbath and all the Jewish feasts and festivals. I did not find answers, though, to God, religion, why I was called a bloody Jew all my life, where my parents were and how they were. They never came to visit us for years. We were taken out sometimes on weekends by other children’s parents.

Bar mitzvah is for Jewish boys at age thirteen and bat mitzvah for Jewish girls at age 12. I never understood anything I was learning in Hebrew. We never got the English. They said, just learn the Hebrew for now. I remember crying many evenings when the Rabbi said one more time, one more time before we finish for the day. I know he meant well for me to learn my part off by heart so I could stand in front of the Jewish Shul (synagogue) with all those family, friends and others watching me, listening as I read and sing my part. I remember my part which I did then and understood nothing at all. I remember I practised my voice by singing ‘Kentucky blues leave me alone, don’t want to hear you knocking at my door’ and ‘don’t cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you, all through my mad life, my wild existence.’

I got presents after my bar mitzvah. My dear Dad took the money to pay for the celebrations. I remember a big white round tent with lots of delicious food. My late Dad gave me a poem in a frame called ‘if’. “If you can keep your mind while others around you are loosing theirs, you will be a man my son,” by Rudyard Kipling. I had no idea how to be this person. Parents, Arcadia staff, Rabbis, school staff, people who donated for our well-being told this confused, anxious little Jewish boy: “now you are a man and you are accountable to God, school and for your whole life.” From my confused, angry, stubborn, messed-up background, I had no idea how to keep up the act of being an accountable Jewish boy-man from the age of thirteen.

We all came back home from the orphanage at this time, but I was soon sent back to the Orphanage because I was naughty. My sisters stayed on at home with my Mom and Dad. Their divorce went through many years later after my Dad found an Austrian girlfriend. This added to my confusion – why Dad should choose a non-Jewish lady in place of Mom when we children had been warned against such things.

I chose two idols to fill the big hole in my heart, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, the champ) and  Richard Gere the gigolo-womaniser. I remember looking at my father’s Playboy magazines in secret and how this gave me something to look for in place of the love that I was not allowed to get from my mad Mom or from my Dad who was always at his gym from early to late.

My teenage years was made up of drinking, smoking, sex, dagga, stealing, pornography, adultery, lies and fighting people who called me a bloody Jew. I also got mixed up with a few homosexual so-called friends, one who was the Chief Rabbis’ secretary, the other a movie house manager and the other a Jewish friend in the neighbourhood. I remember clubs, running away from Arcadia and home, and spending most of my time with the naughty friends on the streets.

I chose to join the South African army at age sixteen with my friend Shani Krebs. Middleburg Transvaal, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Windhoek, Oshivello, Swasu, Windhoek and back. And then one month in army prison / detention barracks. Eighteen months on the South West African border. Twenty-five months in total. Now I was an even more confused young man after going through so much bad in the army. However I’m grateful for the discipline, submission, obedience, etc. which I was taught.

Out from the army I felt alone in this big, beautiful, but crazy world. All I could think of was to find work and a place to stay, and to prove to the world and my family I can be successful. God was not a clear subject for me. I never knew who God was, where God was, how God was. But I still believed that God was real and somewhere in the sky. My late Dad always told me to leave God in the sky and we must use our seychel  (common sense), positive thinking which God has given us. I remember my late Dad always made me hit the table, dashboard of the car and say “I am a man”.  “Say it louder and hit the table harder and say ‘I am a man’”. I hurt my hand many times as I got angry and hit the table hard. I remember breaking my Dad’s Chev Caprice American car’s dashboard after hitting it so hard. So with God in the sky, I remember searching for jobs and working with all my strength to make a living. I sold crockery and cutlery sets, jewellery, gold and diamonds, hamburgers, shawarmas, golf tee advertising, cleaning fish tanks, become the OK bazaar’s receiving manager, manufacturing and selling my late dad’s wrist and ankle weights.

After working for others for about nine years, I started my own businesses. A bodybuilding gym, a motivation-leadership-management courses business, a catering business, two fast food outlets, assistant development director of SMI (success motivation international) and my late Dad’s gym equipment manufacturing business.

Then suddenly I had a visitation from God and He started drawing me to Himself with His incredible irresistible love. God surely knew how to get through to me. At age twenty-nine He sent a sexy Christian girl to me in Brixton to share God’s salvation through repentance and faith in my Jewish Messiah Jesus’ precious blood. I respected this women and her passion to share God’s salvation with me. Even though nothing made sense, I felt God’s love starting to knock on the door of my life, my heart.

This was the most blessed time of my life. After all the business, bad headaches, back pain, skin decease, broken relationships, lies, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, smoking, stealing, etc. I found myself very heavy laden and burdened. I was really tired. What was supposed to satisfy me did not. There was an aching void, an emptiness in me that I could not fill.

A month later I was in Dallas, Texas, USA where I was buying a motivation franchise business that I wanted to use back home in South Africa to change the attitudes of parents and family, apartheid, anti-Semitism, hypocrisy, etc. But God had other plans. The heart and attitude He wanted to transform were mine. But it had to start in the heart, not in the mind. Three days into the four day convention at the Dallas Hyatt Regency Hotel after having breakfast in the morning with a pornography picture on my vest and my leader gently asking me to go back to my room to change my clothes … suddenly in the evening in a Dallas bar, God put me with a sexy Dallas cowgirl who came up to my hotel room after I had had some beers. She never had alcohol, but instead shared God’s salvation with me exactly like that lady – Irma – did a month before in South Africa. More than that, this Dallas cowgirl also told me “God has come to save you and answer your prayer you prayed at the age of ten”. Well if you could have seen my attitude change immediately! I was sweating and thinking deeply for the first time in my life. I walked the lady-angel down to her Land Rover and watched her drive away into the moonlight. I went straight to bed and slept like a baby. The next day was the fourth and final day of the SMI convention. About one hundred South Africans and maybe 2000 other people from around the world from 65 nations were in the big hall. After going into a sort of trance for a few hours, I had no idea what was going on either on the stage or in the hall around me. Suddenly everyone stood up at the end of the day and my neighbour tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to stand. I stood as if at attention while hearing a song “Jerusalem, lift up your gates and sing ‘hosanna in the highest’”. This was not a religious seminar. With tears slowly running down my cheeks, a warm feeling in my body, with goose bumps from my feet to my head, I was left with three questions in my mind:  (1) who is this Jesus? (2) from Jerusalem? and (3) is he a Jew?

I never cried before. Tigers don’t cry. Now I found myself in God’s holy presence. Just me. I did not understood what was happening but when I got back to South Africa, I couldn’t rest until I got answers to those three questions. I went to some Rabbis and they told me not to talk about Jesus. I respected them, but told them my Dallas salvation experience. They told me to stop dreaming and come back and be a good Jew and leave Jesus alone. I could not do this. I was prepared to go back to Shul but not stop searching for and talking about Jesus. The next night I had a dream to go to Leo and Janet Nedermeyer. In the dream I heard, “they will explain the Bible to you and show you what it teaches about Messiah Jesus.” God showed me where they lived and when I knocked on his front door, Leo opened and said, “welcome home son. I’ve been praying for you for many years to find salvation in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).” For two months we had bible study at his home.

I was brought up not to go with Gentiles and their idol Jesus and definitely not to go to church. So I was brainwashed. However I found myself going to Rhema Church in Randburg after two months of knowing for myself what the Bible and salvation through Jesus is all about. I asked myself why I never got taught the Bible growing up in my Jewish community and in English so I could understand and apply it to my life. God had now got my full attention. As I was sitting in this church with about five thousand people, the preacher said, “if you were to die in the next thirty seconds and have no idea where you would land up, heaven or hell, you need to come forward and give your life to Jesus so you can have assurance of everlasting life instead of everlasting torment” (Daniel 12: 1-3, Joel 2:29, Matthew 18:3, John 3:1-17, Jeremiah 31:31-34). That was my miracle when I went to the front for prayer and within three months I was in full-time evening Bible School (1990 to 1992). I went to my parents, girlfriend, friends, enemies, to those I owed money, to say sorry, please forgive me and to make right, to pay back until I owed no one anything except to love. Some forgave me, some thought I was silly, some released me from agreements, some released me from money I stole from them and said “we are happy you are getting your life in order and you have found your peace, your salvation.”

Suddenly I read in the Bible that by Jesus’ stripes I am healed. So I laid hands on my headaches, skin disease, back pain, etc. and everything was healed, gone, no more. With all these miracles happening to me I had to now learn to become faithful and holy with my body, my eyes, my sexual organs, my thoughts, my money, with my government, family, enemies, etc. (Romans 12:1-3).  This is called sanctification which has taken me a long time – to allow God to purify and refine me into His image in Christ Jesus. After eighteen months as a born again Messianic Jew-Christian, I went through a terrible divorce in which I had to deal with guilt, failure, making God’s name bad, Jesus’ name bad and my name bad. After this I had seven and a half years of no girls, no sex. I was learning to be married to God as my husband and to live, move and have my being in the Holy Spirit and not the flesh. God was so patient with me all the years. God disciplines those he loves. I’ve learned to take true loving discipline because it produces character, kindness, perseverance, love, joy, peace, goodness, self control, faithfulness, etc.

Soon I wanted to share this love inspired life with everyone. My own precious Jews, Free Masons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ZCCs, Rasta’s, Hari Krishnas, Mormons, Hindus, Catholics, Anglicans, Christian Science adherents, and all other religions. While on evangelism outreach with teams from “Messianic Good News” and “Jews for Jesus”, Muslims approached us and asked me and my friends, ‘how does a Jew believe in Jesus?’ This gave me an opportunity to share God’s salvation, God’s amazing love and grace with these precious souls.

What I knew from my background was that God made His only holy covenant with Isaac. The insight I gained from the Holy Spirit of God though His word – which burns inside my heart like rivers of living water flowing from my innermost belly – is that the promised covenant is that of true peace and assurance of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through Messiah Jesus, Abraham’s seed through the line of Isaac.

Consequently, the name which God gave the rejected son, being ‘Ishmael’ – meaning God hears, God cares – and His promise that Ishmael would become a great nation with twelve princes born of him is confirmed in Isaiah’s promise that the offspring of Ishmael through Kedar and Nebaioth should please God with their offerings, and glorify His house (Isaiah 60:7). Also in Isaiah 19 we read of the day that the Lord of Hosts shall say, “Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

What I knew from my background was that Ishmael would be a wild donkey of a man, “his hand against his brother and his brothers’ hands against him.”

What I learnt through the Holy Spirit was that Jacob was not much different to Ishmael. Jacob after wrestling with God was changed from a liar, cheat, jealous, thief, schemer, wild donkey of a man to a new creation in God’s image and the new name ‘Israel’ given to him. Only then was he reconciled to his older brother and enemy, Esau.  In the same way many Israeli Jews find peace with Palestinian neighbours through their new birth and their common faith in Messiah Jesus, raising above the hostilities of the sinful flesh.

Ishmael and Isaac buried Father Abraham together. So can we bury the past family quarrels, strife, confusion, arrogance, bitterness, rejection, offence, sulking, jealousy, pride, selfishness, division, bad mouthing and disrespect.

I am led of the Spirit to study the Qur’an along-side the Bible to discover how Almighty God by His grace allowed significant pointers to Jesus and the Gospel to be written in it to bring precious Muslims to the Cross, even through the Qur’an.

One of God’s most beautiful Arabic names is AL-FAADI – the Redeemer. We need not grasp for leaves as Adam did or dress ourselves in our own good deeds, but accept the raiment covering of righteousness, as spoken of in Surah 7:26, pointing to the precious blood of Jesus given to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, so that we can have confidence on judgement day. Redemption means to ‘buy back’ – a price had to be paid to bring the lost sons of Adam back to God. The Redeemer God provided a ram in the bush instead of sacrificing Isaac. This was a shadow of what would happen for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross two thousand years ago. Our most merciful and most gracious Holy loving God provided the lamb. Surah 37:107 speaks of the ram given in exchange for Isaac, saying “and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice.”

Although Islam tries to avoid Surah 3:55, it clearly says that God caused Jesus to die (using the Arabic word, MUTAWAFIKA) and raised him up to Himself. Just as millions of Jews also, over the past two thousand years, when confronted with Isaiah 53 or Daniel 9:24-27, have had Jesus revealed to them, we pray for the same grace for Muslims when they read these verses from their Qur’an.

The Qur’an claims to confirm what came before it, not to change the message: “To you [Muslims] we sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety” (Surah 5:48).

My hope as a Jewish follower of Jesus, in sharing these truths with Muslims is to bring them back to Abraham and his family. As it says in Surah 5:82, “those who say ‘we are Christians,’” and nearest to the Muslims in love, “for amongst these are men devoted to learning and who have renounced the world, and they are not proud and arrogant.”

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