Philip Klein's arduous journey to meet his savior Yeshua — the original Hebrew name for Jesus — began more than 60 years ago.
Klein was born into an Orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn, N.Y. But because of financial constraints — including the expenses of keeping a kosher home and following all of the Orthodox tenets — the family turned to the conservative side of the religion.
Klein eventually became what he refers to as a secular Jew.
"We didn't go to synagogue regularly, only on holidays," Klein, 69, said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Marietta, Ga. "Now I go every week."
His journey brought him to a woman who would become his wife. And she brought him to Jesus.
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As a young man, Klein received formal musical schooling. He even performed at a concert in Carnegie Hall. He toured the country as a keyboardist, played with the New Goofers in the '60s and '70s and eventually settled in Atlanta in 1977.
He married a woman named Claudia, and they had a daughter, Stephanie. Then, in 1980, Claudia was killed in a car accident.
"We suffered much anguish until the Lord sent an angel of mercy," Klein said.
Klein was working in a furniture store in 1987 when a couple from Florida came in to tell him about a friend of theirs.
"I was trying to sell them a sofa and they were trying to tell me about this woman," he said.
On their second date, Klein asked Sheila about her future and she told him about the love of her life: Jesus Christ.
Because of their religious differences, they decided to stop seeing each other.
"But one morning I woke up at 4 a.m. and heard a voice say, 'Philip, come to me,' " he said. "I thought I was having a bad dream until it happened again the next morning."
He said he told Sheila about the voice, and then he told her he wanted to visit the synagogue she had told him about: a Messianic synagogue.
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When he got there he noticed many familiar items from his childhood and felt at home.
"It was like riding a bike again after many years of not," he said.
The sermon was about Naaman, in II Kings: 5, who had leprosy and was healed by God.
"I heard a voice say to me that I had spiritual leprosy and that I needed to be washed in the blood of God's son to be healed," he said.
Now he regularly goes to the Messianic synagogue and writes songs that he shares in concerts all over the country. He has made three CDs and is working on a fourth.
His mother had died before his conversion, but Klein shared his new faith with his father, who was dying of cancer.
"I was a new believer at the time," Klein said.
A year after his father died, Klein visited his father's grave in 1988 during the unveiling ceremony, a traditional Jewish memorial service.
"I did the service because the rabbi didn't show up," he said.
He said above his father's grave, on a very rainy day, there was a hole in the clouds where the sun came through. After the service the hole started to close.
"It was a sign to me that my father was in God's presence."
Jeanne Mazurek, the office manager and administrator of the three Shoresh David Messianic Synagogues in Tampa, Lakeland and Wesley Chapel, has known Klein for 22 years.
"He is a multitalented man, a mighty talent," she said. "He is good inside and outside — a wonderful person."
One of the songs in his CD in progress is titled True Believer. He said these words sum up how he feels:
"I'm a true believer, but I can't believe it's true. Why would you pick me up and dust me off and make me part of you?"