Angelina in Israel wrote to us: “It is a very scary time in Israel now. I miss seeing Israel filled with sunshine, busy life, and family celebrations.”
She wrote these words in the email where she had attached a report from her father. Oleg is SGA’s director of Bible training and is delivering food and supplies to people who have been affected by the war where he lives. Life in Israel has changed almost overnight. Sunshine, busy life, and family celebrations are no longer the norm. Now, people are afraid to go outside. The streets are empty. People are scared and hungry. But the Church, once again is rising above the evil of darkness and bringing the light of Hope to those in need.
As you will read in Oleg’s story below, he doesn’t do any of this without great risk. They all sacrifice much for the sake of the Gospel. Please keep them all in prayer as they continue to meet the needs of many with the Good News. And also pray for Angelina as she will continue to gather and send stories while her heart is hurting for her beloved country.
From Oleg . . .
War came to Israel again and brought with it death, separation, grief, and stress. Thousands of rockets flew from Gaza to cities in the Promised Land. The city where we live has been hit the worst. According to statistics, 75 percent of the missiles were aimed at our city. There’s lots of destruction. The streets, which were always filled with people and children’s laughter, are empty. Rare cars appear on the roads but soon they disappear. According to the latest data, 30 percent of our city’s population has left. Despite these dark times, God shows His mercy to people. Our two churches (one where I am and the second one that we recently began with Yura) in the city got involved in working with people. We bring people the hope that God gives in His Son Jesus Christ. We take people out of the city to safer areas of Israel. We deliver food to people who are afraid to leave their houses and apartments, who have lost their jobs or are very weak.
I want to tell you a little about how the time usually goes when we visit people to help them. Last night, when Shabbat began, I went out with groceries to deliver them to four addresses. When I left, it was already getting dark. I found my first apartment quickly. I called and was met by a woman named Tatyana. Since she was weak and it was difficult for her to go up to the fourth floor, I brought her groceries into her apartment. Tatyana is from Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan). She lives alone. Poor conditions in her small apartment. She was scared of the war. There is no bomb shelter near her. We talked to her about the Good News. I said that there is a God we must trust, pray to, and study His Word.
After that, I went to another address, which I also quickly found. I went up to the fourth floor. I was met at the door by a woman named Anya. I also gave her food that the people at our church had prepared. When I entered the apartment, I saw a man and thought that it was probably Anya’s husband. We started a conversation. I said that we are Christians and help people in this difficult time. Anya, who has been in Israel for a little over a year, turns out she used to live in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine), a city that is located not far from Zaporozhye, where I once lived. This united us very much, resulting in some good conversation about God and His Word. The man was silent the whole time, but I think he listened carefully, because in difficult times, people are more open to the Gospel.
Then I went to the third address and here I had to look for a long time for the people who I needed to deliver the groceries to. The sirens started to sound again. Rockets appeared in the sky, but there was nowhere to go. It was dark. The streets were empty, and I was just waiting for the shelling to stop. Having walked a little further, I met a Jew and a woman sitting on a bench. They explained to me where the house I was looking for was located. Near the house I saw a Chinese man who was also sitting on a bench and listening to some program in Chinese. I knocked on the door. Some woman looked out and I asked: “Are you Olga?” She answered “yes” and let me into a small and poor apartment without a bomb shelter. Olga said that when the rockets fall, she goes out from the apartment onto the steps and waits there until there is silence. The woman came from Azerbaijan. I said that I also visit Azerbaijan. This, it seemed to me, endeared her to me, and we were able to talk about God and His protection of those who trust Him. All the people I visited that evening were invited to our church to study God’s Word.
All that remained was to deliver the products to one more place, which I had to search for a long time. The reason for this is that in Israel there are often no house numbers on houses. I started calling. Nobody answered. Eventually I heard a woman’s voice in Hebrew. The woman, whose name was Rachel, asked, “Who is this?” I answered: “My name is Oleg. I brought you food.” But the voice said: “I don’t need food.” It was a pity that I spent so much time searching and it turned out to be in vain. It was already late. Dark. Perhaps Rachel was afraid to go out. Maybe she thought it was terrorists calling. Or maybe she didn’t go out because Shabbat had already started, and she was afraid to break it, since it’s impossible to take food and bring it into the house on Shabbat.
A few hours after I finished delivering groceries, I was returning home. Already not far from the house on the empty road, the howl of a siren was heard again, and rockets began to fly. I stopped the car, but then decided that I needed to keep driving. There was still hope that God would not allow the rockets to hit my car. I came home, parked the car, and entered our apartment. Heavy shelling began again. Our house and our son’s house were shaking from the explosions. A rocket hit a neighboring house near my daughter and the house was heavily damaged by the hit. The sounds of ambulances hurrying somewhere could be heard on the streets. Thus passed the usual time of delivering food, which opened the doors to previously unknown people to us to hear the Gospel.