FORMER ORTHODOX JEW FINDS COMPLETION IN CHRIST
Celebrate the Passover with Henry Benach of Jewish End Times Ministries Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Harvesters Nazarene Church, 11th and Birch, Elgin. Benach will recreate a traditional Jewish sedar dinner and speak on the prophetic revelation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
A complete roast beef dinner is included. Tickets are $7.50 per person.
By the time he gave his life to Christ in 1978, Henry Benach had tried just about everything the world offered to fill the emptiness that consumed him.
Raised in an orthodox Jewish home in Cleveland, Ohio, Henry went to temple every Saturday, was bar mitzvahed at age 13 and led singing in the congregation.
Inwardly, however, he questioned his religion. He felt lost. He found no peace or understanding in the rituals of Judaism. But at 13, it was all he knew. He had virtually no experience with anything else especially Christians.
In his naiavete, Benach thought anyone who wasn't a Jew was a Christian. He had been raised to believe Christians were responsible for all sorts of horrible things, including the holocaust. Christians were to be feared and avoided.
"I remember being told that if I encountered a Christian on the street, I should cross to the other side," he recalls.
Shortly after his bar miitzvah, Benach quit going to temple. He rebelled against his religion against everything.
"I did a lot of things I don't really like to talk about anymore, but I grew up in the 60s, so you can imagine," Benach says.
Eventually Benach looked into other religions, even practicing Buddism for a while. He gave that up, too, and for years drifted along spiritually barren.
He decided money would fill the hole. Aspiring to be rich, he went to school to study psychology but ended up dropping out after three years. Then he decided the entertainment industry would bring the money and fame to satisfy his longing for what he could not even define. He ended up in radio braodcasting and had settled down enough to marry, finding some fulfillment in his own family. But Benach was still empty and longing for fulfillment.
One day his phone rang and a woman at the other end asked to speak to a Mr. Smith. Benach told her she had the wrong number and hung up. A few minutes later, she called again asking for Mr. Smith. The third time she called, Benach was slightly irritated, but the lady said since she had already bothered him, she might as well invite him to come to her church and hear an "ex-Moonie" speak. Benach was intrigued. He and his wife, Sarah, went to church.
"That was the first time I ever heard the Gospel and I knew as I listened to that preacher what he was saying was what I was looking for. I knew I needed Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior," Benach says simply. He went forward on the alter call and gave his life to Christ. And everything began to change.
Benach left his job in broadcast journalism to serve the Lord who had saved him. He wanted to share his good news with his family and others like him.
After studying at Tennessee Temple University, Henry's family moved back to Cleveland in order to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the commuinity of 80,000 Jewish people in his hometown.
"Jewish people are not fully satisfied with their own religion," he says. Even so, there was little welcome. His grandparents turned their backs on him and his father went to his grave refusing to accept the truth of Benach's new faith. His mother, however, made the decison for Christ before she died of cancer.
Although Benach has encountered some anger and contempt from the orthodox Jews he shares the Gospel of Christ with, his intention for his Jewish outreach ministry is not as "in your face" as others Jewish missions.
"I am not confrontational, I just share the gospel and plant the seeds. If I don't get through to them, I pray for them and trust God for the rest," he says.
Benach has preached to tens of thousands of Jewish people, especially in the Ukraine, the country of his heritage. He says God is definitely moving among the Jews, which Benach sees as an indication of the nearing of Christ's return and God's desire to reconcile with his chosen people.
"I have read that there have been more Jews saved in the last 19 years than in the last 1,900," he says.