Inside View Jan/Feb 2017
Sitting around a table in Warsaw, Poland, last summer, I listened as our Friends of Israel staff there shared how God worked in their lives to bring them to faith in Christ and eventually into Jewish ministry.
We have five active workers in Poland. They also reach out to Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. I find it amazing that Poland, where 3 million Jewish people were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II, has the largest number of Friends of Israel workers outside the United States.
Our ministry has a rich Polish legacy. Victor Buksbazen, our first executive director, was from Warsaw. He immigrated to London, England, before the war, and eventually moved to the United States, where he served with us.
As I listened to our workers’ testimonies of God’s grace, one name came up repeatedly: Halina. Halina Ostik was like a golden thread that God purposefully wove into each of their lives. Without her, none of these servants of the Lord would have been at the table. She had a part in bringing each one to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Halina is our sixth staff member in Poland. But at age 97, she is no longer able to serve actively, as she did for so many years. Yet the others were there because she had poured her life into theirs.
Some she taught how to minister to people. Others she encouraged and prayed for, allowing time for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. One of our staff is a second-generation worker who is following in the footsteps of his father, who served with us until his unexpected death at age 40. Without Halina, it is likely there would be no Friends of Israel staff in Poland.
If you knew Halina’s story, you would think her unlikely to have been used by the Lord to raise up such a significant group. She was 20 when World War II reached Poland, and she soon found herself helping the Polish Resistance by providing first aid to those who fought against Germany. Raised by her parents with a love and appreciation for the Jewish people, she knew it was wrong to oppress them.
After the war ended, Halina and her husband fled to Argentina to avoid the Communists who had taken over Poland and were eliminating anyone connected with the Resistance. Victor Buksbazen had met Halina when they were both children, and he never lost touch with her. It was Victor who invited her to join The Friends of Israel after she lost her husband to cancer at a young age. God placed on her heart a burden to minister to Jewish people; and with Victor’s encouragement, she returned to Poland.
Even though she was living under Communism, she understood the importance of teaching others to minister. She began working with young people, inviting them to go with her on the streets to witness. She taught them the importance of prayer and encouraged them to obtain a good education in Bible. Each of our workers attended our one-year Institute of Jewish Studies.
We are indebted to our former executive director, Elwood McQuaid, who wrote Halina’s biography, Halina: Faith in the Fire, several years ago. It is a remarkable account of God’s grace at work in the life of a woman who was determined to serve the Lord in the face of great adversity. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you purchase it. You can buy it from The Friends of Israel through our online store at foi.org or by calling 800–345-8461.
Hearing Halina’s name mentioned so many times that day reminded me how much God can use us to teach others to serve Him when we are faithful.