NOTE FROM RIVKAH: In Ten From The Nations, I issued an invitation to anyone on a walk with Torah to submit their story to share with others. This is Tommy Wilson’s journey.
My story begins in Charleston South Carolina. I have lived virtually my entire life here since the age of one. At this same age my father abandoned my mother, my sister, and me. My mother never remarried, never drove a car, and walked a dozen city blocks each way to work to raise her two children. She was a wonderful mother! With the help of her brother she would take us to church every Sunday. It was a traditional Episcopal church. I’m not totally sure why (other than the rebellion that exists in all of us), but by the time I was ten years old my mother tired of me giving her such a hard time about going she just left me home. Fine with me!
Even so, one day while looking out through our front screen door, at the age of around 7 or 8, I distinctly remember sensing God’s presence and somehow knowing that He was with me. (I’ll bet some of those “church ladies” were praying for me!) That will always be one of a hand full of reference points in my life that I look back on and will never forget. I cannot ever remember thinking to myself that there was not a God. I mean, it was so obvious that there had to be, right?! Duh! :0)
Going through my young life and school without a father was emotionally and psychologically grieving, and being molested a few times along the way didn’t help. When I graduated High School I had no direction, plans, ambition, sense of purpose, etc. By the time I turned 23 I was at the “end of my rope”. Although I had a pretty good job with positive outcomes, praise Abba, it didn’t make much difference, and I was still grieving internally.
On April 28, 1982 I was radically changed by the Spirit of God. I knew with my whole being that I was now His son. I was overjoyed and now headed in a totally different direction.
Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our own spirit that we are children of God”
Psalms 68:5 “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation”
Abba revealed Himself to me more each day and led me to a home fellowship group associated with an Assembly of God type church, and I grew exponentially. Within a year I was leading a home bible group. I stayed in this church for almost 26 years serving in several leadership roles. I was happy for the most part but many times I felt like something was missing, and could never quite understand what it was. I had a lot of questions but mostly kept them to myself. I believed the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation was God’s Word, yet the overall picture of the “Old Testament” seemed veiled or clouded over. I read the “New Testament” most of the time and OT verses that were related and made the most sense.
During this time I got married in 1986, was separated in 2000 and then divorced in 2003 bearing no children. To make a long story short I lost my wife, my 18 yearlong career, and my home. When I separated, I moved in with my sister and a few years later we convinced our 86 year old mother into moving in with us. It was an important time of being together and supporting each other for many reasons.
In November of 2004 after a time of being discouraged and depressed, I shut down in my heart towards Abba. (Something I never thought I would do) I basically started doing what I wanted to do, because I wasn’t sure anymore what He wanted me to do. If there was one thing I knew for sure, it was to take care of my mother and sister. I would still attend church at times, but only just to show up and act like I was still involved, but I clearly was not. I became like a prodigal son and left the church in the spring of 2008 and never returned. It was for many wrong reasons that I left, not because I thought the church was in error (although I do now in some ways, not all) or Abba was taking me out of it.
It was during most of this span of time that my sister, who was involved in a ministry called “Women’s Aglow”, was becoming more interested in Israel. She visited there in 2005 and 2009. Many times she would share with me what she was experiencing and learning. I didn’t want any part of her enthusiasm!, for I was well grounded in my isolationistic (is that a word?!) state. All I did was work and stay home in my room mostly watching sports on TV. I had no social life, and I did not read my bible for over 4 years. Here I discovered the internet, and sadly to say it took me places that I regret I ever went to.
My sister was persistent though, and I agreed to go to a gathering in Orangeburg South Carolina where a Hebrew Roots teacher by the name of Bill Cloud was speaking. I saw some old friends and one was blowing a shofar while others were dancing in a circle that looked Jewish or something. Nothing really happened that day except some seeds were planted and I knew Abba was gently drawing me back to Him.
Exodus 34:6 “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.
2Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Weeks and months went by and I began to recognize more and more that Abba was whispering for me to return to Him. One day I clearly heard Him say, “If you keep going down this road it will lead to destruction”. THAT got my attention! What was funny but not funny at the same time was the picture that came up in my mind of the Wizard of Oz movie characters saying, “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!” repeatedly. I decided very quickly to stop going down the road I was on and at least turn around and face the other way. “But what do I do NOW?!” Should I go back to my church or some other church?” Every time I thought of these things I knew it was not the answer. It felt like I was in a wilderness without a compass. I cried out to Abba to rescue me, because I wasn’t sure if I was still in the family or not.
Several more weeks and months went by and I was again in my room. This time I was reading and listening to some CD’s and articles my sister had given me. It led me to Ezekiel 37. Part of this chapter is about the House of Joseph and the House of Judah coming together as one in Abba’s hand. While reading through this chapter I had a vision. I didn’t think of it as a vision in those moments, perhaps because I had never had a vision before. I simply remember telling my sister “God opened my eyes!” I later realized it really was a vision, and called it my “two second vision”, because it seemed to happen so quickly. That day was July 12, 2009.
Joel 2:28 “It will come about after this, That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”
(This also proves I’m a young man!) :0)
Looking back, this was critical in Abba moving me forward in my walk with Him.
Here is an attempt to try and concisely describe the events in this experience, which seemed to all happen simultaneously.
I saw two arms wrapped around the entire earth. Many people were being gathered in the midst of great tribulation, darkness, pain and suffering, death, etc. He showed me the ocean and I immediately thought of Ephesians 3:18 which says, “so that you, with all God’s people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of Messiah’s love.” His message to me was, “no matter how bad it gets, my love is deeper and greater to see my people through.” I then knew He was gathering HIS people. Abba revealed to me how DEAD SERIOUS He was and it shook me up to the core of my being with much trembling (physical tremors). For the first time in my life I understood what the “Fear of the Lord” was, and right then Proverbs 9:10 came to mind,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
For three weeks straight after this, I woke up every night around 3:00am trembling after a kind of replay of the vision in my thoughts and dreams. Yet a most interesting experience happened; on every Shabbat I noticed I didn’t tremble at all but was at peace! I had never observed Shabbat before, so I credit Abba for somehow helping me understand Shabbat.
Very shortly after this I started going with my sister to her Torah study group of about eight people. I quickly knew this was where Abba wanted me to be. We studied the Torah portions every Shabbat and I was like a sponge! After several weeks some commented that I looked like I was taking on a fire hose of Torah. I couldn’t get enough!! It wasn’t an issue or struggle at all to start observing Shabbat, the Feasts, and eating biblically clean food.
Within a year I went to Israel where I dedicated my first pair of tzitziot to Abba at the Western Wall. That along with worshipping Abba on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee was the highlights. The next year Abba brought to me my true soul mate and Love of my life, and we married at Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) in 2011. Dorothy and I went to Israel during Succot of 2016 and attended the 2nd B’Ney Yosef National Congress where we met other Hebrews/Ephramites and Yehudim from 16 different countries on every continent. We have been involved with B’Ney Yosef North America since before its inception in 2015, and served as prayer directors for two years. We now direct the South Carolina National Shabbat gatherings of the Sons of Joseph/Yosef to worship Abba together, help connect other fellow Hebrew Ephramites, and promote unity and brotherhood.
I recently read a quote that I like and think is very profound. My hope is many will understand and agree, then implement it into their lives.
“Denominations rally around a common belief, families rally around a common Father.”
YHWH, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our common Father, so lets rally together as a family for His purposes and His will to be done, whatever that means to you!
Tommy Wilson was raised in Charleston South Carolina where he started his career as a Marine Sheetmetal Mechanic, and recently resigned from a second career as an Endoscopy Technician. He is now currently self-employed. He has been a follower of Yeshua HaMachiach since April 28, 1982, and awakened to pursue his Hebrew Roots and observe Torah since July 12, 2009. He and his wife Dorothy were married at Succot of 2011. They have both served as Prayer Directors and National Shabbat Directors for B’Ney Yosef North America. They have one daughter and one granddaughter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org