The Friends of Israel in Action Nov/Dec 2021
Keep the Hanukkah in Christmas!
There would be no Christmas without Hanukkah. That’s a fact! Hanukkah commemorates God’s divine preservation of the Jewish people approximately 160 years before the birth of Jesus.
Greek King Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) banned synagogue worship, Shabbat, Torah reading, and circumcision; tortured and murdered Jews who refused to assimilate; and defiled the Temple in Jerusalem by having a pig slaughtered on the altar. He was so evil he is considered a type of the Antichrist.
For one zealous, elderly Jewish priest, assimilation into paganism wasn’t an option. Mattathias defied the tyrant and, with the help of his sons and other zealous Jews, defeated the Greeks. In 165 BC, the Temple was cleansed and rededicated to the Lord.
Without Mattathias and the Maccabees, assimilation would have spelled the end of the Jewish people and the lineage of King David of Israel. Hanukkah marks the day God providentially preserved His people, preparing them for the coming of their Messiah.
Fast forward 2,000 years to Richmond, Virginia, where Charles and June Furrow celebrate the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons by delivering Friends of Israel Hanukkah gift baskets to their Jewish friends. Each gift basket is a gesture of Christian support and a thoughtful way to share the love of Messiah Jesus during this important time of year.
Charles and June made a special trip to deliver a Hannukah basket to their friend Marvin. A few days later, Marvin saw the Furrows at the Jewish Community Center and thanked them profusely. “What a glorious basket!” he said.
Marvin, a retired attorney, explained, “At ages 86 and 87, my wife and I no longer expect to receive Hanukkah gifts. Like children, we had to open the basket right away, checking each treasure—every one a reminder of the joys of Israel, bringing back great memories, and making us want to be there again. Thank you for your gracious and thoughtful gifts. Most of all, thank you for your friendship, your kind thoughts, and especially, your good works.”
The Furrows’ Hannukah gift deepened their friendship. Not long ago, Marvin looked at Charles and asked, “Why do you always have a smile on your face?”
Charles replied, “Because I have Jesus in my heart!”
There’s no better time than Hanukkah to show your Jewish friends you love them and to tell them that without them, we Christians would have no Savior.
You can help support the ministry of the Furrows and others serving in North American outreach with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Thank you for your prayers and financial support!
In Canada, please give here.
Fulfilling a Dream
Our international field representatives minister in so many ways to Jewish people. They even help them navigate the complex process of leaving the Diaspora and making aliyah (immigrating) to Israel.
Recently, our newest worker in Ukraine, Tetiana Kritenko, had the opportunity to help her Jewish friend Ludmila make aliyah. Ludmila’s story is fascinating—but similar in many ways to other Jewish folks in Eastern Europe.
Ludmila grew up in Ukraine under the regime of the USSR. Jews were so heavily persecuted they were afraid to reveal they were Jewish. They were not allowed to go to synagogue or publicly affirm their faith, and Ludmila’s family even avoided using the word Israel.
But they knew Israel existed, and many longed for the day they would be able to live there. Ludmila’s grandmother was among those who dreamt of making aliyah. Often, she whispered to her granddaughter her hope that the two of them might someday leave Ukraine and join other Jews returning to their own Jewish homeland.
As the years passed, Ludmila never forgot her grandmother’s dream. Now a grandmother herself and a widow for the past 10 years, Ludmila lives alone. Her family moved to Siberia. To make matters worse, she lives a mere 15 miles from the front lines of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimean Peninsula. And that’s where Tetiana Kritenko found her through the ministry of a partner church that cares for Jewish widows.
For weeks, Tetiana met with Ludmila, either traveling to see her in person or calling her on the phone. She told Ludmila about the Bible, God’s love for Israel, and the love Christians have for her. Ludmila never before heard the gospel presented clearly or understood that Jesus is the Messiah for whom she has been waiting.
Eventually, she asked Tetiana to help her fill out the necessary paperwork to make aliyah and prepare for an interview at the Israeli consul in Kyiv. For four days Tetiana hosted Ludmila in her home, prayed with her, read the Bible with her, and coached her for her interview.
When Ludmila finally sat down with the Israeli consul, he asked her what he could do for her, to which she replied, “I’m going to move to my own home, to Israel! Please help me.” He asked her who told her Israel was her home. She told him the story of her grandmother and her grandmother’s dream that they both might return home to Israel.
She then expressed her concern that Israel doesn’t need another 70-year-old immigrant, to which the Israeli consul responded by approving her visa, hugging her, and telling her that her strength is very much needed in Israel. He invited her to make aliyah and make her grandmother’s dream come true.
Ludmila is now bound for her new home in the Promised Land. Until she leaves, our workers are praying with her, sharing Christ with her, and rejoicing over God’s work in her life. Pray with us that God will use our team in Eastern Europe to minister to many more people like Ludmila.
You can help support the ministry of Tetiana Kritenko and others serving around the world with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Thank you for your prayers and financial support!
In Canada, please give here.