By Mark Ellis —
She grew up in a dysfunctional Jewish family in Queens, New York, and embarked on a spiritual journey that culminated in a powerful vision that altered the course of her life.
“I have always loved and believed in God the Father from my Judaism, but unfortunately, I never really had much of a relationship with him,” says Laurie Zagon-Sorrentino. “I did not believe in Jesus. In my family it was, ‘Don’t ever say that word.’
No one in her home practiced religion, but her grandfather was an Orthodox Jew who worshipped every day at the local Synagogue. While he was highly involved in the rituals and traditions of being a Jew, it didn’t seem to have much impact on his family’s behavior.
“My grandmother (his wife) was phobic and never left the house they lived in in more than 20 years. His children laughed at his behavior, but were also intimidated by his tyrannical ravings. On high holidays, the family celebrated at his home. He always drank too much whiskey and wine at these dinners and would rant and rave; eventually sobbing endlessly,” she recounts.
“I never knew how to worship,” Laurie admits. “I was never taught about the bible. I was not even aware that the Old and New Testaments were combined in one book.”
After she graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she earned a Master of Fine Arts at Syracuse University.
Pursuing her love of art, she became best known for her work as an abstract colorist. For 14 years, she served as a professor of fine arts at City University of New York, specializing in color and light theory.
She lived for a time in Barcelona and Madrid, where she had four exhibitions within a two-year period, before she transplanted herself in California.
“I had a following in New York, but nobody ever heard of me in California,” she says. Laurie joined a 12-step program that dealt with food addictions and befriended a woman in the group named Rosalie.
One day the two went to lunch together and Rosalie said, “Laurie, I know that you’re a very spiritual one. I think you need to know more about Jesus.”
“No, sorry, we don’t talk about Jesus in my family,” she replied curtly.
“Laurie, don’t you realize that Jesus was the greatest Jew of them all!”
Laurie was vaguely aware that Jesus was a Jew because her father told her he read the Gideon Bible when he stayed in hotel rooms and discovered for himself the surprising news about Jesus being Jewish.
“Most Jewish people in New York think of Jesus as a dirty word,” she told her friend.
Then Rosalie said something that took her aback: “Laurie, I’ve been praying for you.”
“Why are you praying for me?”
“I think God is doing great things in your life and I pray that will continue.”
Then Rosalie invited her to a mid-week Discovery Bible Class at her pastor’s home. “I think it would be great for you and your boyfriend to go,” she told her.
Laurie’s boyfriend, Joe, decided to check out the church known as Coast Hills in Laguna Niguel, came home and amazed Laurie by saying he thought she would like it. Joe had been an altar boy in the Catholic Church, but had turned his back on religion.
“I’ll go as long as you hold my hand and don’t let any of those people near me,” she told Joe.
They went to a church service together and found people singing and praising Jesus. “I felt like I was betraying my cultural identity,” Laurie says. “I felt uncomfortable.”
Despite the initial discomfort, she felt led to attend the Discovery class at Pastor Denny Bellesi’s house. “The pages of the bible fascinated me that very first night,” she says. She began to read the Bible on her own and attend the classes each week.
On the fourth week, the pastor spoke to the participants very directly: “Some of you are on the fence about who Jesus is,” he said. “What I suggest you do, if you’re not sure where you’re at, I want you to go home and pray and ask him to take over your life and save you.”
Laurie went home mesmerized by his words, “Is Jesus the Lord, a lunatic, or a Liar?”
Before she went to bed, Laurie prayed for Jesus to come into her life. “OK, this is really weird, I like this but I’m not sure if this is really right for me. I don’t know if you are who you say you are from this study. I need a visual sign. I’m an artist. I need something that will show me this is true.”
The next morning, sipping coffee at her kitchen table, things began to get “really weird,” by her accounting.
“All of a sudden Jesus appeared to me like seven-feet tall in a pearlescent swirl of light going around him. I knew it was Jesus. The next thing I knew I was standing and I saw myself as a six-year-old child.”
That particular time of Laurie’s childhood had been one of her unhappiest. In addition to Laurie as a child, a seven-foot-Jesus, and herself as an adult, a black panther entered her vision.
Previously, she experienced a recurring dream with a malevolent black panther that chased her, often causing her to wake up in a cold sweat. “I had problems with demons coming into my life in New York,” she recounts. “I had done channeling sessions with people and there was really weird things happening to me.”
But now, Jesus escorted the black panther away from her, opened a door, and put the panther out. Then he closed the door. “The three of us held hands. Jesus, me and me as a six-year-old. I was a vision but it was so real. He was right there. When he took the panther out it was so powerful for me.”
Laurie recognized the panther as a demonic, evil presence.
After the powerful vision, Laurie felt transformed. “I immediately felt different—filled with love; accepted. I was complete. There is a term for Jewish people that accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior: ‘Completed Jews or Messianic Believers.’
“I knew my former life was over and Jesus was there to tell me he was there for me.
Even the hurt from being a six-year-old child got healed. I praise him everyday for choosing me to be one of his.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Laurie is the founder of Art & Creativity for Healing Inc. (ACFH), which supports emotional healing from the impacts of abuse, illness, grief, fear or stress for children, families, individuals, and military personnel using their Art4Healing® method.