Cindy Varghese was raised a Christian who discovered as a teenager her Jewish heritage. Her mother is Jewish from the tribe of Judah. As a child, her home life was not conducive to learning about her heritage, but at the age of eighteen an uncle, a Messianic Jewish believer and former Rabbi of Shema Yisrael, told her of her Jewish heritage. Cindy's heart became tethered to her people and Israel. She spent the next eighteen years of her life studying under her uncle to understand her people and her heritage. She also studied theology at Christian Life School of Theology to expand her understanding.
Heather Phipps is a Christian who sat under church teaching for 20 years of her adult life. She studied and taught in multiple ministries. After meeting Cindy, she began to learn from her the ways of God from a Jewish perspective. This opened an entire world of understanding to her. As she began to understand the scriptures in a new light, she longed to know more. Heather is now also learning from the same mentor.
Why us? - Our story
by Heather Phipps
Cindy and I are a living representation of Naomi and Ruth. Cindy is my Naomi, and I am her Ruth. When we met we were both struggling with some serious life issues. Neither of us knew what the other was facing. I was running a Christian homeschool co-op called ABLE and Cindy had recently joined. As I came to know her, I heard her talk about the Bible with wisdom and with insight like I had never heard before. I knew that her wisdom had to be shared with others, so I encouraged her to write a Jewish Jesus curriculum. Our pastor not only gave us the opportunity to teach this class but helped us compile and publish the 200 page workbook that accompanied the class. During the grueling process of creating the Jewish Jesus course, our friendship grew. We developed a love and respect for one another. So just like Ruth, I learned from my Naomi the ways of God, and I fell in love with Jesus all over again.
Tragedy struck Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah when their husbands died. Naomi, even though she was grieving her own husband, looked out for Ruth and Orpah as she sent them back to their people so they could find new husbands and live their lives fully. True to Naomi's character, Cindy helped me in the best way that she could, even though she was struggling with her own serious life issues. Teaching this class encouraged Cindy, and when I went through a particularly difficult time she wasn't about to let me go through it alone.
As I recovered from my own issues I came to realize that Cindy was dealing with a lot of issues herself. My gratitude for who she was, how she'd been there for me, and the lessons she taught me burdened me with the desire to walk alongside her as she dealt with her own struggles. I was her Ruth during this time.
Ruth told Naomi that she would leave her people and suffer the same fate as her. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi, told people not to call her by her name but to call her "Mara" which means bitter. She was destitute, without a way to provide for herself, but she was not alone. Ruth helped her. She never left her side, and through her efforts gleaning, she provided the food Naomi needed. Eventually, through Ruth, Naomi found her redeemer. She had hope and healing, and she was restored. In a similar way as I walked with Cindy through her struggles, she found hope and healing and a deeper relationship with her redeemer.
The relationship Cindy and I share is a living example, a type, of how God wants us to relate to the Jews and Israel. Our friendship and love grew with everything we had experienced. We became as close as two soldiers who fight together in a foxhole, so close that we would give or do anything to help the other. The Lord has knitted our hearts together as one, and we learn and grow with each other. We are the picture of the wild branch (me) being grafted to the natural branch (Cindy). She gives me the root of my faith, so that I can know my God. I strengthen her so that she can stand firm. As we grow in our walk (as the grafted branch grows), we come together as one, stronger than before. The love we have for one another is the love demonstrated by Ruth and Naomi's relationship as Ruth tells Naomi, " for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."
As a modern picture of the story of Ruth and Naomi, it is my greatest desire to unite the Christian church as one, and see the relationship between the Jewish and Christian communities flourish. May the Lord let our lives serve as the example!