Elaine Jacobs Baughman's Biography
Elaine was raised in a practicing Conservative Jewish home. She grew up without a place to call “home” as her father was a career Army officer for 22 years. She attended synagogue regularly as well as Sunday School, and had the opportunity to attend Yeshiva for a short period, all of which increased her knowledge and commitment to the Jewish faith. She even had her Bat Mitzvah, celebrating the coming into adulthood. From the tradition of Sabbath evening family meals and synagogue, to observing all of the feasts including the High Holy Days, Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover, Elaine became entrenched in the Jewish way of life.
Elaine was often the only Jew in her school(s), and even sometimes was ridiculed for being such. She clung to her faith throughout her youth without question. Elaine attended high school in Northern Virginia where her father eventually retired. She was also very involved in the United Synagogue Youth. After graduating, she attended university at Virginia Tech and graduated with a degree in Business Management.
She wrestled with this knowledge and ultimately, that still, small voice began calling her and showed her the Truth of this Jesus. Even though she knew it would be a difficult road ahead with her deeply religious family, she accepted Jesus as Messiah at the age of nineteen. The joy was real, but so was the struggle.
Elaine didn’t understand what to do with her Judaism. After all, when Gentiles convert to Judaism, they give up their faith and leave it behind. She asked herself, “Am I supposed to give up my Judaism and convert to Christianity?” God had set out a series of events that would lead Elaine to some Jewish believers which she never knew existed! She learned from them, and from her first Bible study leader, that being a Jewish believer in Jesus is a transformation that fulfills a Jewish person! This was a new concept for Elaine, and one that would change her life and her calling.
As she continued to grow in her belief, she encountered multiple Gentile believers who were so hungry to learn about her Jewish faith. Being that her husband (a Gentile believer), was also a career Army officer, they would be led to many different churches over the years. Elaine had the privilege to teach many classes on Judaism, lead many Passover Seders, give explanations of Hanukkah, Sukkot, and other feasts along with their New Covenant fulfillments to many different audiences. She was also blessed to be able to share how accepting Jesus as Messiah had changed her life.
Elaine was being called more and more to share her Jewish faith with Gentile believers, and God used this to bring Finding Jesus in Judaism to fruition. Elaine’s desire is to equip Gentile believers with a greater knowledge about the Jewish faith, so they can share the Jewish Messiah with their friends and neighbors. Her desire includes teaching them that Jewish people can believe in Jesus and still be Jewish!
It was at university that she began to question her faith. What was the purpose in all these traditions and good works? Did she really know God? What would happen when she died? These were questions that kept coming to the forefront of her mind. There she met two people whose lives were instrumental in “provoking her to jealousy” (Romans 11:11) and changing her life. She questioned their faith and ultimately desired their lives and the joy they exhibited. Curious, she began to ask about their joy and was shown the “Brit Hadashah” (New Testament). She learned, for the first time, about Jesus being the Messiah. This was a real struggle, as she grew up being taught that Jewish people don’t believe in Jesus.