by Avram Yehoshua
On Tuesday, May 9th, 2000, Ruti and I went a
hundred yards up the street to visit with Alex and Eila, and their four children:
Eena 16, Anna 14, Genya 6 and Sopha, about 10 months. It was Yom HaZikaron
(Day for the Remembrance of Israel's fallen soldiers in all their wars, and
of the Israelis who have died because of terrorist attacks). Most places
were closed or worked only half a day. Ruti and I thought it would be
a good time to visit with them and talk about Messiah Yeshua. We've already
given them a full Bible in Russian, them being Jews from Ukraine who are now
Israeli citizens. And Eila seemed very open to our sharing about Messiah the
last time that we did.
I took my Hebrew Bible and Ruti had her English
one. My thoughts were to see if we could all sit down and read from the book
of John. We wanted Alex to read out loud in Russian, and Ruti and I would follow
along in English and Hebrew. It never got to that but we got to know them much
better, eating a meal with them that was very special in and of itself. Unknown
to me, but obviously to our Lord, whose leading I believe I was following,
May 9th is also the anniversary of Russia's defeat of Germany. It's a massive
celebration in Russia and Alex, being a Russian and a Jew, had more than
double cause to 'celebrate' it, as Ruti and I would come find out.
When we came to their door, they were glad to
see us, wondering why we had 'stayed away so long?' Everything stopped for
us as Alex ushered us into the living room for conversation, but I felt that
we had interrupted what they were doing. I told Alex to please continue and
that I would be with him.
I rolled up my sleeves as we went outside to
start the grill for barbecue. It took us over an hour to do it, not finding
the charcoal immediately, and then when it was lit, it didn't last long. So
Alex took a small hatchet and cut up some old branches. In no time he had quite
a fire going. I 'helped' by watching : )
Ruti was in the kitchen, helping Eila and getting
to know her better. Before the night would be over, Ruti would be learning
to recognize and speak Russian, from Eila. We barbecued some chicken pieces
and a table outside was set. Everyone took their places. Alex, Eila holding
little Sopha, and not able to eat much, 16 year old Eena, 14 year old Anya
with her girl friend, Yirena, and 6 year old Genya, along with Ruti and
There was soda to drink and vodka, wine and
beer. There were two different kinds of salad, bread, chicken and shvarma (beef
and lamb together that was barbecued also). And when we were full, we were
given more! Alex filled my glass with wine and made a toast 'to life!' I drank
half the cup and Alex began to explain to me that I needed to drink it all.
After his explanation, I understood the meaning of the day for both Alex and
Alex told me that his grandfather was tied to
a wooden column of a porch by the Nazis, and burned to death. Other members
of his immediate family suffered greatly too. He related to me that a number
of them had been taken to Auschwitz and murdered. He went there a number of
years ago, and now, at our table, he got up from his chair and got down on
the ground, on his fists and knees, and showed me what he had done, overcome
with grief and anger. He was pounding his fists onto the cement patio, relating
what he had done in the dirt of Auschwitz, wanting to know his murdered
He got back on his chair and told us that witnesses
had relayed all this information, and that he had gotten it from Misrad HaPanim
in Israel (the Office of the Interior which deals with immigration). He turned
away from me and began to weep. I put my hand on his shoulder.
After a while, he went on to speak of Stalin,
spitting on the ground after he mentioned his name. As he ended, he told me
that that was why I needed to drink the whole cup of wine at once; in honor
and out of respect for those of the Jewish People who had died, and us that
were alive today. Now I understood the meaning of the day. I told him that
I was sorry. I took the cup and drank the rest of the wine. Alex appreciated
that. Only the Lord knew that the day would mean so much to Alex and Eila.
(Alex shared with me that Eila's grandfather was taken and no one knew what
happened to him.)
We spoke some more and relaxed, the older girls
clearing the table. We spoke of this and that and then somehow, we got onto
the subject of God. Alex commented that all the gods were the same. That if
we grew up in Saudi Arabia, we'd call God, Allah. And if in India, Buddha.
And if in the United States, Jesus. I listened to what he said and I told him
that he had a good point. But it wasn't the Truth. It was a half truth, and
that's a full lie. I said that if I printed money in my house, and I
came to him and asked him for change of a 200 shekel note ($50), if he didn't
realize it was a counterfeit, he'd give me the change. They liked that illustration.
I went on to say that there are many 'gods'
in the world, but only the God of Israel is the True One. All the others are
counterfeit's from Satan. In the Hebrew Scriptures the God of Israel tells
us that we are to worship only Him, and no others gods. Obviously, there must
be other false gods.
I said that we can know that the God of Israel
is the One True God because He did something that none of the other gods
ever did. He delivered the Hebrew people from Egyptian slavery when Egypt was
at the height of its glory and power. No other nation then was as powerful
as Egypt and therefore, all the gods of Egypt were venerated by the Egyptians,
and other peoples respected them as superior. But when the God of the slave
people arose, all the gods of the Egyptians were no match for our God. Both
Alex and Eila nodded their approval and understanding.
Then I began to speak about Yeshua. The promised
Messiah who not only has forgiven me of all my sins, but has given me of His
Holy Spirit and Life Eternal. I told them that only Yeshua can heal the pain
and the hurt of what others have done to our families. Only He can give us
Life and lead us to the Father. I shared with them that I have been walking
with Yeshua for 24 years and in all that time, I have seen that He is Real.
If I had found out that I had been deceived, then I would have left Yeshua
a long time ago. But on the contrary, the more I walked with Yeshua and learned
of Him, the more I saw that He was our Messiah and the greater my desire
to know Him more.
It was a good time of sharing about the Lord
and I sensed that that was enough for that day. The sun had set and darkness
was coming upon us so we went back into the house. Genya took a bath and got
ready for bed, and the older girls were getting ready to go out. Ruti was in
Genya's bedroom, being asked, begged and pleaded with by Genya if she could
sleep overnight with Genya : ) They don't like her much : ) Eila would come
in and Rut, Genya and Eila would start the 'Russian class.' Ruti loves it.
Sopha was asleep now and Eila could relax.
I was in the living room, watching celebrations
from Moscow on Victory over Germany Day. Fireworks, people parading in the
streets, old men with war medals on worn out military jackets, etc. It
means a lot to them, and rightfully so. Then Alex turned on an incredibly old
Russian World War 2 movie. Of course, it was in Russian which only added to
the archaic quality of the movie. Indiana Jones it wasn't. Ruti came
in and saved me. Time to go...
We parted company as friends, and will be returning
soon to see about that Bible study in John, chapter one; as our Lord leads.