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Marie & Sheila Hyams “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Marie & Sheila Hyams “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Marie and Sheila Hyams were both successful, sophisticated business women. But beneath the veneer all was not well. Both had a great spiritual hunger and a fascination for Jesus…

MARIE HYAMS

My parents were Jewish and my earliest memories of childhood were quite happy. We lived in North East London and though mother and father did not follow their faith strictly we observed the festivals because, I was told, it was tradition! I went with them to the synagogue sometimes, but the service didn’t really mean much to me. I couldn’t understand what was going on because I had never learned Hebrew and no one explained what was happening. We didn’t speak about God at home and though I had heard that God made the world, to me he was very remote, somewhere “up there”.

I was seven or eight years old when I first heard about Jesus in religious education classes at school. I was fascinated by Jesus. He seemed to be very special, telling wonderful stories and curing people with terrible diseases. I vividly remember running home after one lesson to tell my mother all about the lesson, only to be told very firmly, “We don’t talk about him! We are Jewish.” I couldn’t understand if Jesus was a Jew — as I had been told — why couldn’t I talk about him? And why had he been killed? Why was my mother annoyed with me for talking about him?

There must be something more…

In adulthood when friends got together we would often talk about the meaning of life: why are we here? where are we going? Everyone was of the same opinion — make the most of life because when you’re dead, you’re dead. And that’s it! Some of these people were well educated, intellectual, and they thought I was rather naive to believe “all that religious stuff”. If they were right, I couldn’t see the point of it all. There had to be something more.

For most of my life I worked as a secretary in the City. There are some lovely churches in the Square Mile and I used to spend many lunch hours visiting them. St. Paul’s Cathedral was close at hand and I went there many times, not to study the architecture, beautiful though it is, but to look in fascination at William Holman Hunt’s painting, The Light of the World, portraying Jesus standing at the door of the human heart.

A friend at work was to be married in church and when I asked whether she believed in God she said she had never really thought about the matter. But she did think it was a pity I was Jewish because Jesus came into the world for the Gentiles!

Born again?

1993 started badly for me. My health was not good, there were problems at home and I was at a very low ebb. It was a bad time until in early March a girlhood friend I had not seen for a long time came to see me. She had become a Christian and she was full of joy. I had heard of people being “born again”, though at that time I didn’t know what the term meant.

She gave me a book, What Christians Believe, which I read two or three times. We began to see each other more frequently and each time we met she brought more books. I eventually began to read the Bible and discovered that Scriptures I had become familiar with through Handel’s Messiah — “For unto us a child is born”, “He was despised and rejected”, “With his stripes we are healed” and many more — were from the Old Testament! I had always assumed that because they were about Jesus they were from the New Testament.

All is revealed

When I started to read the New Testament, everything became clear. I began to understand the mystery of Jesus’ death: he came into the world to fulfil the Old Testament prophecies; His sufferings and sacrifice were for the sins of His people.

The most important day of my life was the 21st May 1993, the day I asked Jesus to come into my life. A verse from John’s Gospel (6:37) was going round and round in my head all day: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” That evening all the discussion, all the reading, went from my head to my heart. God had sent his Son into the world to save me. After many tears, I asked Jesus to come into my life, to forgive my sins and to renew my life. I was so sorry to have kept him waiting outside the door of my heart for so long. I opened the door and he entered my life.

 

SHEILA HYAMS

I always believed in Jesus. I was taught about him at Infants School and I loved everything I heard. When I was older and learned that He had been crucified and that they’d placed a crown of thorns on His head I could not believe it. How could this be!

Marie and I used to talk and talk about Him. If there was a novel about Jesus, we had to read it. If there was a film about Him, we had to see it. We were so excited about the TV series Jesus of Nazareth in the mid-seventies and we watched every episode. We had a great hunger to know about Jesus although we never read the Gospels — or the Old Testament for that matter. What was the point? “They” told us that Jesus was not for us — but why not?

No Jesus. No God!

There were no answers and so all these thoughts were pushed to one side, though from time to time they would come to the surface. I totally turned away from God. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” and, though I had never read those words, that is what I felt in my heart — No Jesus. No God!

I lived a secular life and since the majority of my friends, especially the very intellectual ones appeared to manage very well without God it seemed all right for me — most of the time.

During times of disappointment and especially bereavement, I needed and longed for spiritual comfort. When my darling mother died and my world collapsed around me, a particularly close friend gave me the best advice she could muster: she told me to join a tennis club or the Conservative club! That, she confidently predicted, would help me to “get out” and “get over it”!

Freedom

When the Lord sent Marie’s friend Joan to us with all those books I couldn’t stop reading. It seemed at last that all my questions were being answered. During that time my godson was baptized. Naturally, I attended the service and from that time my eyes began to open and my ears began to hear. I began to meet Christians, I saw and heard them worship God with sincerity and joy and their kindness and love towards me was overwhelming.

But at the beginning there was still some resistance, some inner conflict. But after meeting and talking to some Jewish believers I knew without doubt that it was right for me to ask the Lord into my life. The feeling of guilt was over — buried for good — and my life began to change completely. I felt free. I could forgive those who had hurt me and the bitterness I felt towards them began to disappear.

Wonderful!

In part one of my working life when I was a fashion designer, going to the Paris Collections and so on, people would say, “How wonderful!” and “How exciting!”

In part two of my working life, when I was involved in selling the most luxurious and expensive properties in London and organising luncheons and parties for the glamorous and wealthy, they would say, “How wonderful!” “How exciting!”

Wonderful! Exciting! It is my life now that is wonderful and exciting. Learning about Jesus — that’s wonderful, that’s exciting! Reading God’s Word — that’s wonderful and exciting! To live without Jesus Christ is to have an empty and unfulfilled life. I thank God that after all these years I know the truth — that I, Sheila Hyams, born to Jewish parents can at last worship my Messiah, my Yeshua and at last have the inner peace for which I always longed.

 

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