I am writing to you at a time when Israel is again battling against the new coronavirus variants, shutting down Ben Gurion Airport to visitors and restricting various everyday activities for all Israelis.
The pandemic hit Holocaust survivors in Israel harder than most as they are physically vulnerable and already some of the most emotionally traumatized people on the planet.
We all know the pandemic made life difficult for everybody, in every country, every community, and household. But imagine what it would be like if you were an eighty-six-year-old Holocaust survivor living in a cramped apartment for a year and a half without a computer or knowing how to use modern technology.
Israel went into lockdown because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, which resulted in the closing of the state-funded social clubs for Holocaust survivors in an effort to protect them from the spread of the disease. This created an opportunity for our staff at Chosen People Ministries—Israel to show His love by serving the survivors. Our staff received special permission from the government to visit these precious souls in their homes and provide them with food and other supplies. But almost more importantly, these visits provided personal connection, prayer, and comfort as our staff was able to share the good news of the Messiah with those who were open.
Our team sprang into action, and we taught dozens of Holocaust survivors how to use computers and even Zoom for virtual meetings. From Bible studies to live online concerts with worship music and teachings from Scripture, we provided a steady stream of hope and personal contact through Zoom events designed for those unable to leave their apartments. We must also remember that, during some of this time, the survivors lived in terror as missiles from Gaza were regularly flying overhead, and some of the rockets that were not stopped by the Iron Dome hit the ground near their apartments, which are very close to the border.
Maxim Katz, who leads our ministry to Holocaust survivors in Israel, described to me the ways in which hardship opened doors for ministry among hundreds of elderly Holocaust survivors and their families.
I am sorry to say that many Holocaust survivors whom Maxim and his team served, approximately seventy in total, passed away during the last year. To make matters worse, Maxim recalls that none of our staff were able to attend the funerals as only a few close family members were permitted to attend. This brought us to tears.
ANSWERS TO PRAYER
What encouraged us the most during this season were the hundreds of phone calls we received from Holocaust survivors and their curious, unbelieving family members asking for prayer. We spent hours upon hours talking with and praying for people over the phone.
One sweet ninety-year-old lady called Maxim and asked for prayer for her grandchildren, who are now in the army. The next day, Maxim received a phone call from an officer in the military who was this lady’s grandson. “My grandmother said you prayed for me,” he remarked. “Who are you, and why are you praying with and helping my grandmother?” he added. Maxim shared openly that he was a Jewish believer in Jesus and told him about our ongoing work among Holocaust survivors. Maxim’s testimony touched the man, and days later, he received a message from this officer saying he—an unbeliever—wanted to support the ministry financially! Not only that, but he continues to call Maxim to this day, asking questions about faith and sharing about his own spiritual journey.
Another precious lady in her late eighties called and asked us to pray for healing from cancer. Maxim and the team prayed for her and offered practical help as well because she had no family in Israel. She accepted Jesus as a result of our prayers and practical support. It was a beautiful picture of Jesus’ words: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
CHANGE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Recently, an eighty-six-year-old man asked Maxim, “How did you come to the faith? How did God find you? Because you weren’t born a Christian. So, what happened?” After two hours of Maxim and even some other survivors sharing their testimonies, the man came to faith in Jesus!
Pray for these precious Holocaust survivors. We try to help them spiritually and practically, but we are also fighting the clock as many, especially during the pandemic, have passed away. Please pray that God will continue to open the hearts of the survivors and that He will send additional laborers to serve on our team who can especially help with home visits. It requires a lot of time to make these personal visits as the survivors are often so lonely.
The harvest is plentiful in Israel among Holocaust survivors! But the time is short. Matthew wrote, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest’” (Matt 9:37–38).
So, please pray for new laborers and think about sharing financially in this urgent ministry so that we can take on some new workers for this effort…again, the time is short.
You can help us in this wonderful ministry through your prayers and support of new workers!
Maxim was born in Siberia, Russia, in 1976 to a traditional Jewish family. Due to a problem at birth, he could not walk until he was nine years old, which made his childhood very difficult, especially making friends with other children. When he reached adulthood, he became very attracted to the world.
After some time, Maxim decided to move to Israel under the Law of Return, which allows Jewish people to immigrate to the Holy Land. He settled in the resort city of Eilat in the south of Israel with other immigrants from Siberia. But instead of finding a new life, he quickly became attracted to alcohol and chose the wrong kind of friends who were also heading down a path to nowhere!
But the Lord had His holy hand on Maxim and began drawing him to the Savior. He met some godly believers in Eilat and began to understand that there was a God who loved him. Going nowhere on his own, he prayed and asked for God’s help. Still, life became more difficult, and he ended up on the streets. Then, one day, Maxim called out to God for help as he knew that Jesus alone was the answer to ALL of his problems.
Eventually, God called Maxim to serve Him full-time, and he has been serving with Chosen People Ministries since 2002, teaching Bible studies, assisting the director of the work in Israel, and sharing the good news of Messiah with all who are willing to hear.
The Lord also brought Maxim a beautiful wife, Slavna, and together they minister for the Messiah in Israel among Holocaust survivors and among children as Maxim also leads our very fruitful camp programs.
THE ISRAEL PROJECT
Your Mission to the Jewish People has more than twenty staff members in the Holy Land serving the Messiah among His chosen people. Our Centers in Jerusalem and in the greater Tel Aviv area are again up and running, and Maxim and our other staff members are busy reaching Jewish people in Israel: Holocaust survivors, young adults, children, soldiers, and many others!
During this season of the year, when we think deeply about His miraculous birth and generosity toward us (Romans 5:8), please join me in prayer for the work of Chosen People Ministries in Israel.
Merry Christmas, and may He be glorified in all things!