Becoming an Overcomer by Paula Rose Michelson

During the last two weeks, I have had the privilege of sharing the faith journeys of two unique and courageous women. Today’s posting is the last of the trilogy of Sephardic Voices that appear in the first volume of Casa de Naomi. As you read Janice’s story I am certain that your heart will be as stirred as mine was when she told me her story. It is one thing to discover through a confidence shared and another to find out through traveling with family that you are not as you seem. However, to discover the truth after everyone who could affirm it had died, made this gut wrenchingly poignant last entry a hard one for me to write. I hope that you listen with your heart instead of your ears. For the story Janice shares, and the pain and joy she experienced in finding out her families truth might be yours unless you learn that secrets kept secret, are obstacles that hinder us until they are overcome, and each of us can be an overcomer!

Before you read Janice’s story ask yourself:
• Do I need to do what everyone else does?
• Will I be better or worse off if I check things out for myself?
• Does fear come before or after change?
• Is it the fear of change that keeps me stuck?
• Must I continue to carry the secret burdens of others?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Janice’s Voice~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There was a stirring in my heart to follow my mother’s influence and learn about the Jewish people. I remember my fourth grade class in parochial school, where Sister Demetrius instilled within us the fact that the Jews did not kill Christ, but it was our sins that put him on the cross. Between my schooling and Mom’s love for the Jewish heritage, there was birthed within me a tenderness toward the Jewish people. As I reached what some would call middle age, this stirring intensified until I needed to know more. For years, I told people that I was Basque. However, I never went to the town whose name I bore. Then I met a woman whose son was a missionary in Spain. I asked him if he could take me to Ulibarri and he agreed. In 2008, I made the trip to Spain. We traveled throughout the Navarra region until I finally stepped onto the soil that had been home to my family centuries before. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a strong Jewish presence in that region. Could my mother have been trying to tell me something all those years ago? I will never know for sure. However, my journey of the heart allowed me to look at my heritage and history with new eyes. When I returned home, I told my children, “We have a Jewish heritage.” They rolled their eyes. Months later, my son called and said, “I was waiting for the metro and was approached by a scholarly man who looked at my badge, which identifies me by my last name. He read ‘Mireles’ and asked me if I knew about my name and my heritage. I was able to give him the information you had shared with us. I was stunned when he gave me additional information, which proved to me that what you had said was correct! I called you, and I told my brothers and sisters that what you had said was true.”

Janice Mireles-Ulibarri has been involved in Messianic Worship since 1994. She served as a volunteer in the Israeli arm in 1999.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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