Elliott Osowitt grew up in Los Angeles California in a strict Jewish home. He had no real knowledge of Jesus Christ and was not even permitted to speak His name.
"To me, God was a rule-making Darth Vader out there in outer space somewhere," he confessed in a talk on Livestream in 2013.
Elliott grew up with a "heavy hitter" dad, with whom he had no relationship and 'escaped' the violence at home at 17 years of age, for a different kind of violence in Vietnam. The army turned Elliott, in the course of three years, from a non-drinking, non-smoking good boy into a drug addicted, alcoholic womaniser.
Elliott and his wife Polly married when he was 19 and had two daughters. Throughout the early years of his marriage, Elliott admits he was not a good husband or father. He couldn't quit the drugs and, although he was never physically abusive, he admits he was a very angry man.
"I was always yelling and swearing and ranting and raving. Putting down my wife and putting down my children," he admits.
Then his wife developed breast cancer and had to undergo radical surgery and chemotherapy treatments.
At the same time their daughter, who had already been in trouble with the law on more than a dozen occasions, got arrested again for fraud and jailed for three years, leaving Elliott and his wife to raise her two children.
To get away from these overwhelming problems, Elliott quit his job as a medical assistant and took a job as a tour director for a British company.
He travelled a great deal of the time with a company that he called "Heathen Tours." The purpose of these tours was to provide any and every sort of "pleasure" the clientele could afford. He, too, participated in the immoral acts he offered to his clients.
"I got paid to take drugs and drink with people all over the world," Elliott says. "What a great job for an addict! But it got crazy and out of hand."
On Christmas Eve of 1996, Elliott returned home only to be told by Polly to leave the house for good.
"She came to the door crying, and hairless and sick-looking from the chemotherapy treatment, and told me, 'I know where you've been, who you've been with and what you've been doing. I can't take it anymore. You're no good for this family. Go away. We're better off without you'," Elliott remembers sadly.
Realising how far out of control his life had become, he decided to go to a motel and commit suicide with his gun. While in the room, he noticed an open Gideon Bible on top of the television. It made Elliott so angry, he cursed God and knocked the Bible off the television. He tried to kick it under the bed, but the bed-frame was solid and the Bible could not go under. The Bible was still open, and Elliott picked it up and read John 14:27, which says: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives it give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid."
"I was 47 years old and I wept for the first time in my adult life," Elliott confesses. His dad had beat into him that "men don't cry" but he knows now that men who do not cry explode.
Elliott shut the Bible and called Polly to tell her goodbye.
“I was 47
years old and
I wept for the
first time in
my adult life”Polly asked him to at least call her pastor. Though it was Christmas Eve, this pastor came and spent time with Elliott. He spent the next three days in the motel reading that Gideon Bible. On Sunday, he attended church with his wife where he got on his knees and asked Jesus to forgive him, free him of his addictions and help him to live right.
"The minute I asked Him, He forgave me," Elliott marvels. "My sins were cast away as far as the east is from the west. They were cast into the deepest part of the ocean.
"God is awesome to forgive – wives are another story," he shares ruefully.
Elliott went to stay with his dying mother for a while and contacted an organisation called Jews for Jesus, which helped him to learn more about how his new faith was compatible with and had its roots in his Jewish background.
After his mother's funeral, Elliott returned home and he and Polly began to work on their marriage.
He then got a job with a Christian touring company, which put him in contact with Christians from all persuasions and allowed him to encourage others with his story.
Polly has since fully recovered from cancer and worked two jobs so Elliott could complete Bible school. Elliott became a pastor in the year 2000. Today both his daughters are now happily married, raising his six grandchildren.
"My family is proof that God does miracles even today!" Elliott concludes.•