The Friends of Israel in Action Mar/Apr 2023
A Heroine Goes Home to Jesus
Halina Ostik, who fought in the Polish Resistance during World War II, smuggled Bibles into the country under the noses of the communists, and singlehandedly started The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry’s (FOI’s) flourishing work in Poland, has gone home to be with her Savior at the age of 103.
Halina was born in Warsaw in 1919 and was only 20 when Adolf Hitler’s army invaded her country in 1939. She risked her life by providing first aid to those who fought against Germany, smuggling food into the Warsaw Ghetto, and rescuing Jewish children from the Nazis. Eventually, she was captured and sent to various prison camps, where she almost died. Yet, the prisoners always knew Halina was a true believer in Jesus and came to her for prayer and Bible study. She was liberated by the Allied forces.
After the war, the communists took over Poland and killed anyone who had fought in the Resistance. So, Halina and her husband, Samuel, with whom she was reunited after the war, fled to Argentina. Samuel died of cancer in 1954, leaving her a 35-year-old widow with two young daughters. For many years she ministered to the Indians in Argentina.
By then, her lifelong friend, Polish-born Dr. Victor Buksbazen, was leading FOI’s worldwide ministry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had never lost touch with the 7-year-old girl he befriended in Poland so many years before. He wrote to her faithfully, sometimes sending her money; and he sent her copies of Israel My Glory magazine. Knowing her burden for the Jewish people, he invited her to join The Friends of Israel in 1961.
Halina ministered to Jewish people in Argentina for two years before bravely returning home to communist Poland to help her ailing mother and answer God’s call to begin a ministry to Jewish people for FOI in Poland. Her parents had taught her well from childhood to love God’s Word and His Chosen People.
Over six decades, the Lord miraculously opened doors for Halina and enabled her to accomplish great things in His name. Halina established our ministry in Eastern Europe at a time when she easily could have been killed for doing so. For almost 50 years we hid her identity, calling her Sister Alice, to protect her.
“She was Poland in those days. She ran everything,” said Tom Simcox, who joined FOI in 1979 and remembers Halina well. “I remember when we bought the farm in Poland. We prayed for that. We prayed for her constantly. We prayed for the people she ministered to because she was doing it right under the nose of the communist regime. She was very brave. We weren’t allowed to show pictures of the work in Poland without blocking out the faces. It was a dangerous, volatile field. She was quite the hero.”
David Levy, former FOI director of International Ministries, added, “I worked with Halina for 32 years. She was unbelievable, used mightily by God among the Jewish people with a burden that began when she was 5 years old. To my knowledge, nobody served the Jewish people like Halina.”
Today, The Friends of Israel has six full-time workers serving in Poland and Ukraine in ministries almost too numerous to mention. Halina began our summer camps for Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Jewish children, which are held on our property there. She helped Jewish people make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel; provided relief aid to Jewish Sunday schools in Russia and Ukraine; and established Bible studies, pastors conferences, and annual “Holiday with the Bible” retreats for Jewish people from Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
She led many young people in studying God’s Word and sharing the gospel on the streets and led many souls, Jewish and Gentile, to a saving knowledge of Jesus the Messiah.
FOI’s former executive director, Elwood McQuaid, brilliantly captured God’s remarkable work through Halina’s life in her biography, Halina. If you haven’t read this inspirational story, you can buy a copy by visiting foi.org/halina online, or calling us at 800-345-8461.
Halina’s life blessed thousands of people, particularly Jewish people. And we know for a fact that today she is enjoying life everlasting in the presence of our great Savior. We have no doubt her sentiments echo those of the apostle Paul: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
The truth of the Christian faith is that, when we truly give our lives to Christ, we are His forever despite what horrors come our way. He never leaves us or forsakes us (Heb. 13:5). We not only belong to Him, but He belongs to us for eternity.
Halina is with Christ in glory. And though we miss her, we look with great hope to the day when we will see her again in the presence of God.