Shalom, dear friends!
You have been on my heart and in my prayers. I pray that you are staying
safe and healthy. Even if the coronavirus has not impacted you directly, I am sure that you are feeling its economic and social consequences. We need to pray fervently for one another and rely upon the Lord and His Spirit, not only to survive but to thrive during these difficult days.
We recently celebrated the final spring feast, Pentecost, or Shavuot in
Hebrew. It is the day commemorating the giving of the Holy Spirit. According to the book of Acts, it is the Holy Spirit that empowers and encourages us to be witnesses for the Lord “even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Evangelism has been a little more difficult these days with limited travel, let alone to the ends of the earth.
However, I recently heard the lockdown referred to as “confining but not
defining.” Our circumstances motivate us to find new ways to accomplish
the tasks to which the Lord calls us. You could even call our quarantine an
opportunity of the tallest order! We might be speaking to more people about Jesus by way of Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime than we did before the pandemic began!
A THORN IN THE FLESH
I cannot help but think of our current predicament as a proverbial thorn in
Paul wrote about his thorn. He referred to it as his weakness. But rather
than dwelling on whatever that weakness was, he wrote, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”
(2 Corinthians 12:9b). And many other verses allude to the same principle—
that in our weakness and in our limitations, God reveals Himself to be strong.
As we use the creativity God has given us to find solutions, the Lord
Himself is glorified, and our ministry is magnified. I believe this is what Paul was encouraging us to do.
I have not seen the Apostle Paul’s dedication and passion for the gospel
so clearly replicated in recent years as I have seen expressed by a Russianspeaking, ex-homeless person living in Israel and serving among elderly Holocaust survivors—who now also has a brand-new kidney! One of the high honors I have had in serving the Lord among the Jewish people is working with Maxim.
THE GOSPEL GOES FORTH IN ISRAEL
Despite a mandatory lockdown in the Holy Land, many logistical obstacles, and a very recent kidney transplant, Maxim has found new ways to continue bringing the good news of Messiah Jesus to the Jewish people of
I could tell you all about it, but I would very much like you to hear about the amazing work that God is doing in Maxim’s own words. He recently sent me this update:
I hope you had a lovely Passover holiday. I also hope you are staying healthy and well during this difficult time. With God’s help, we will get through the crisis. We pray for your situation in America.
In Israel, we are still under quarantine. Most people are staying at home. It is not easy, especially for older people. Each restriction is tough on those who are vulnerable or “at risk.” We are not allowed to visit them in person. Despite that, we keep serving these people. Every day we make dozens of calls, talking to the elderly, supporting them, and sending them videos via WhatsApp. With some of them, we are also able to do video chats.
In Haifa, we are doing Bible classes online with the elderly group there. For Passover, we prepared and distributed food packages to those in need. We also stay in touch via phone.
In Tel Aviv and central Israel, we recently distributed more than sixty packages of food to the elderly. We talk with them on the phone every day, as well
Because of my surgery, I must avoid contact with people. I am so grateful that my wife, Slavna, and our friend, Luda, took my responsibilities upon themselves. In Jerusalem, we, along with our volunteers, distributed protective masks that were sent to us by our friends in Hong Kong for people in the retirement homes. We also distributed food packages to those in need and stayed in contact with those we served.
Now, we are working on a new four-week ministry project. Every week, we plan on doing online concerts with different worship teams. The presentations will include many of the songs loved by these people, worship, and a message. We hope to stream them to all of our regions.
Despite all the difficulties, we are trying to do something to support our people. We pray for the future when we will finally be able to meet them again in person. We also pray for the possibilities of bringing a group of our elderly people somewhere to rest after the quarantine is over, maybe by taking a trip or at least some kind of tour. With all of the stress brought on by the isolation, relaxation is vital and much needed, so we hope God will provide something like this. Please also pray for the families of our Holocaust survivors. Many of them have lost their jobs and are now facing challenging times. We are trying to stay in touch with them and help them whenever possible. Due to the current situation, there are many new opportunities to reach out to people who have been closed-minded in the past.
Unfortunately, we also have had some sad news. Devorah* from Sderot passed away. She was the leader of the Sderot Holocaust Survivors Club. Because of coronavirus, nobody was allowed to attend the funeral. She was buried on Saturday at 11:00 p.m. by people from the funeral home. Her only family, a son who is very mentally ill, was unable to provide anything for the burial site. However, we hope that when we have the finances, we will be able to get a headstone for her.
We are thankful to God that, even in this difficult time, He gives us possibilities to serve and share the good news. We thank you and all of your friends who help to make ministry possible here.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
*not her real name
CONTINUING THE MINISTRY
It is so encouraging to hear how God is working despite the circumstances! He is strong and able when we are not, and nothing can thwart His plans and purposes, not a virus, wars, economic hardship, or governmental restrictions. All it takes is a passionate heart devoted to Jesus, like that of Paul or Maxim, to be used by God in the power of His Spirit.
In the power of God’s Spirit, He provides for Your Mission to the Jewish People.
Thank you for your faithfulness.
Blessings in the Messiah,