|To view Alex's Art Gallery visit: www.alexsart.boom.ru
by Shira Sorko-Ram
I met Galina about eight years ago in a beauty salon where she worked as a manicurist in a suburb of Tel Aviv. A new immigrant of about six years then, she had come from Russia where she had been a piano teacher. She had learned quite a bit of Hebrew on the job, and I found her a really delightful person, full of life and energy.
As she worked on my nails, I began to tell her about Yeshua. To my delight, she was completely open to the Jewish Messiah but for a very strange reason. She had been seriously ill with cancer when she first arrived in Israel and had sought help from some kind of “healer” who claimed to have the ability to heal, but seemingly had had no exposure to other believers. This person prayed over her with a lit candle, and after several visits, Galina began to feel better.
Then, incredulously, at one point, this person told her client that it was through the name of Yeshua that she had power to heal. And she handed Galina the book “Betrayed” by Stan Telchin in Russian (we have printed these by the tens of thousands in Hebrew) which is the story of a Jewish businessman who came to know that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. Galina, a Jewess, actually drove to Nazareth to search for this Yeshua in a Russian Orthodox church with an Arab priest, the only place she knew to go. But she didn’t return, as she just couldn’t see how the many icons of Jesus and Mary could fit into her world view.
I was taken aback by such a weird tale, but felt it best to simply keep talking to her about the power of Messiah Yeshua to save and heal her completely. She came to our Messianic Jewish congregation which only had about 40 people at that time, along with her daughter who was in the army. They both immediately received the Son of God into their lives, and Kati, who had sung in a local civic choir for several years, was soon singing with our congregational worship team.
Quickly, Galina understood that the Bible speaks very strongly against any kind of witchcraft, and made a swift end of all that smacked of idolatry and New Age activity. She joined a women’s home group led by our partner relations coordinator, Cookie. And she brought her sister and mother to the congregation where both of them received salvation.
Week after week, Galina had one request when her women’s group went to prayer the salvation of her husband, Alex. Galina would pray as if her heart would break and the rest of the “girls” prayed just as fervently with her. Yet, as Cookie recalls, everyone knew that Alex was a “tough as nails” guy who in those days had no need for God, and it was hard for them to believe that this miracle would ever materialize.
He had a wonderful job as an architect, and with his wife by now earning a modest but steady income as a licensed cosmetician, Alex and Galina had been able to purchase a modest apartment not long after their aliya (immigration) to Israel from the Soviet Union, a feat many other Russian immigrants had not been able to accomplish.
So for Alex who was also a gifted painter and sculptor, he had everything going his way. What need did he really have for Yeshua? While Alex would drive his wife to and from her weekly Shabbat service and home group, he himself showed no interest in accepting Yeshua as his Savior. Meanwhile, Galina, often together with Kati, would come forward after almost every service and pray with many tears that Alex would come to salvation.
Ladder of Jacob - Alexander Sorsher
Mediteranian sea - Alexander Sorsher
To view more of Alex's artwork visit his website: www.alexsart.boom.ru
Cookie began to wonder if God might just change the circumstances of Alex’s life in order to grab his attention. In fact, she mentioned this to Galina that she might need to prepare herself for some radical changes. So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when Alex lost his good-paying job as the economy slowed down during the terrible days of the intifada. Suddenly he found himself among the ranks of the unemployed and needy. We believed that it would only be a matter of time until God would get his attention. Cookie continues the story:
“There is no doubt that the Lord used these circumstances to break Alex’s self-sufficiency and indifference to Yeshua. As the weeks went by, we noticed that Alex began to come in towards the end of the services and spend time with the believers - getting to know them a bit - before taking his wife home. Some of the men began to befriend him and Alex became very drawn to one of them in particular. That was my Moroccan husband, Itsik. Although the combination of the two was a bit strange culturally, I saw the connection between them get stronger and stronger with each passing week.
“Alex seemed to really admire Itsik, and God used this growing admiration and friendship to bring Alex to salvation. One of the most poignant pictures I recall was seeing Alex following His Messiah in immersion near Jerusalem in an ice-cold pool of water in the winter. From that time on, it was as if a real spirit of hardness left him, and little by little, Alex’s personality began to soften up dramatically.
“One of the things I also noticed was that week after week, he would give a folded bill to my husband, the treasurer, as a congregational offering. Alex had not been a believer long enough to receive teaching on tithing, but he somehow seemed to have caught the principle that he was to give God his due. Despite the fact that Alex was finding only temporary odd jobs, my husband tells me that he would faithfully give the equivalent of about $20 per week and sometimes more. As I observed this, I knew that it would not be long before Alex would be blessed supernaturally.
Galina in her new salon, furnished & equipped through istandwithisrael.com
“Taking menial cleaning jobs, despite his university degree and standing as a professional architect, Alex never complained. He gratefully took whatever work was available and continued to come to weekly services, joining my husband in collecting the offerings (what has now become his regular function).
“It was out of the blue that we at Maoz received an email from a man in the U.S. who felt impressed to financially help a struggling Russian Jewish believer through istandwithisrael.com since he himself had Russian family roots. I immediately thought of Alex and began to share a bit of his testimony with this man.
“Some months later, this individual sent a sizeable financial gift for Alex and Galina, and when we called Alex to come and pick it up, he was on the verge of tears as he realized God’s faithfulness to him in rewarding him for his sacrificial giving, even at a time when most might have justified their not giving any tithes or offerings.”
For some time, Galina had dreamed of having her own cosmetology business in her home. When Galina was laid off her job at the beauty salon, she felt this was the time for her to make the move. With an istandwithisrael.com grant of ?23,000, ($5248 or ?2967) she purchased the equipment and facial products needed to start her own business, and today she is prospering and increasing her clientele. This couple has turned a corner, and although Alex is still working at odd jobs, he is pouring his artistic gifting into painting. His style has changed completely, and he finds himself painting incredibly beautiful scenes out of the Book of Revelation. Ari has loved them so much that he purchased two of them!
After finishing the army, their daughter Kati went on to a university in Haifa to study architectural landscaping. By working long hours and her parents helping as much as possible, Kati graduated with high marks. She also met a young man in college who seemed to be just the type of person with whom she could spend a lifetime. The only thing was that he was not at all interested in learning about her faith in Yeshua. Kati knew she had to make a decision, and she decided to follow the Lord all the way.
After breaking up with this person, she went through a difficult period. She had not yet found a job in her field, and so was working as a waitress and wondering where her life was going. We at Maoz have a policy of not helping Israelis study in Bible schools abroad because of the very real possibility that they will not make it back to Israel at the end of their studies. The number of Hebrew-speaking laborers is so small that every single born-again Israeli who doesn’t return home is a significant loss to the Body of Messiah in Israel. But somehow, we really felt that it was the right thing to do for Kati to just let her soul and her talents blossom under the greenhouse affect of a Bible school with a vision for the lost.
With a scholarship from a Bible school in the U.S., some aid from istandwithisrael.com and a promise of work on campus for her, she jumped at the opportunity to study Bible and specialize in music. Soon she was leading worship at a Messianic congregation near the Bible school. There she met her man a born-again student whose whole family has a great love for Israel, and is active in Messianic Jewish work. Last summer Ari had the pleasure of marrying them, and as soon as Kati’s new husband finishes his studies in business administration, they plan to come on home to Israel!
Ari performs the wedding
The combination of evangelism and discipleship through a vibrant local congregation, and a charitable fund such as istandwithisrael.com has brought new life, eternal life, economic success and love into this extended family of Russian immigrants!
When we read this story to Galina (who doesn’t speak English) to make sure all the facts were accurate, she wanted very much to add the following: “Before I met Yeshua, I felt my family was cursed. I had no sense of self-worth and I was convinced nothing good would ever happen to any of us. But when I came to faith in Yeshua my Messiah, He gave me a sense of identity and great worth as a child of God. I know with complete assurance that all the curses Satan had placed on my family are forever broken and our future is gloriously in His hands!”
Istandwithisrael - Letters of Thanks
istandwithisrael.com funds are distributed to needy, born-again Israeli Jews and Arabs through the recommendations of their pastors.
The purpose of these funds is to help raise the economic level of the Messianic community, thereby enhancing its ability to be an example of the love and power of God.
We believe that having sufficient means to live modestly without debilitating debt better enables the believers to evangelize and disciple their family and friends.
What may be hard to understand for those not living in Israel is that Israelis as a whole are a people imprisoned by debt. The banks allow their clients to go into deep overdraft, and then charge immense interest for that overdraft. If a person doesn’t keep up his payments and growing interest, the bank then closes the account and proceeds to take legal steps.
It is a common lament that Israelis live and die in overdraft. Once an Israeli gets into this situation, it often perpetuates itself for a lifetime. Israelis then look for ways to take extra jobs, get paid “under the table” and on and on it goes. Avoiding income tax by families hopelessly in debt is as common as the Israeli sun. Debts may range from a couple of thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars when a business fails as thousands did, during the intifada.
The cost of living in Tel Aviv is, according to internet statistics, the same as that of Miami. However, the average wage in Israel is the equivalent of $1508 (?846), per month, before enormous taxes, and the minimum wage is the equivalent of $719 (?403). Even with both parents working, without extreme discipline and good fortune, they usually find themselves falling hopelessly into debt, generating chronic poverty. A third of Israel’s children live below the poverty line.
When Israelis come to receive Yeshua, one of the chief missions of the pastors is to help them plan a budget and begin to work towards getting out of debt. They must be taught the basics of God’s integrity not to cheat on their income tax and to begin to pay their tithes, even in the midst of their great need.
If it seems like a monumental job, it is! Yet we have seen family after family begin to pull out of their poverty mentality, become efficient with what they have, and then watch God pour out his blessing with new and better jobs plus many other miracles. istandwithisrael.com fulfills a critical function in getting these people to a manageable debt level so that they can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The fund has also helped both Russian immigrants and Israelis with terrible teeth problems, often as a result of having never seen a dentist in their lives until it is too late. The fund has helped not a few replace front teeth which has truly made them into new persons.
Secondly, when we are presented with opportunities to help Israeli believers train for a practical career, or help immigrants attend classes to learn Hebrew so that they have an opportunity to succeed in the job market, we know that this is a wonderful use of our contributors’ funds. Thus we search for ways to help the needy permanently better their livelihood. Such a believer will be able to give to the Lord’s work and in every way be a far more effective believer in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
"In the last 12 months alone, istandwithisrael.com has distributed an average of $17,995 each month to Israeli Messianic believers and victims of terrorism, for a total of $215,936 (?121,095). It has blessed 68 families and individuals from 22 congregations." Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
"I want to thank you and the istandwithisrael.com team for the generous donation of ?6,000 (shekels) which will help to finance my bachelor’s degree in teaching and education of nursery school age children. This school year will be my third at college. The yearly tuition is about ?11,000. Because my studies are not only towards an academic degree but also towards a profession, I must dedicate many hours to teaching without pay as well as studying and therefore it makes it impossible for me to finance my studies. This donation enables me to successfully complete my studies. I just want to say that the donations of istandwithisrael.com are very important for the advancement of the Body of the Messiah here in Israel."
(?6,000 = $1,296 or ?734)
Moriel, Congregation Tiferet Yeshua
"We want to thank you and your organization for ?10,000 which has helped our family financially. We recently bought a small apartment and then suddenly my husband was laid off of his job. I just gave birth to our second son, and will only be able to go back to work after three months. Because of all this, we had fallen into debt with no way in sight to pay it back. But thanks to you and those who have contributed, we have solved that problem and are now out of debt. Thank you so much. We pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry."
(?10,000 = $2,160 or ?1,222)
Olga, Congregation Even Ezer
"I want to thank you for the gift of ?5,000 enabling me to attend my second year of university. It is clear to me that God has used you to open this door for me and make it possible for me to study yet another year. This year, part of my curriculum includes studying the books of the Bible: Jeremiah, Samuel, Song of Solomon and Hosea [from an Orthodox point of view]. As I also am studying the “History of the Jewish people,” I chose the period of the Bible and the Middle Ages. Through the lectures, God has clarified the fantastic picture that He himself created which made it clear to me how He has always been there for the Jewish people.
I am a 73 year old widow who was born in Israel. As a result of several financial difficulties in my life, I found myself left without any savings. Until recently I didn’t realize that I had any problems with my hearing, but since many friends and relatives told me that I have a tendency to shout when I speak, I went to the doctor for several tests. These tests showed that I was, indeed, in need of a hearing aid, which I found out would cost ?18,000. Knowing that I would be unable to afford such a device, I turned to my congregation for help, and I was able to get the financial help needed through the donations of istandwithisrael.com.
There are simply not enough words to express my gratitude for this tremendous help that I received when I was truly in need. I thank you and bless God everyday for the help of those who desire to bless the body of Israeli believers who are needy in the land."
(?18,000 = $3,888 or ?2,200)
Shosh, Congregation Tiferet Yeshua
"I want to thank you for the support of ?10,000 you gave me. I have to say that your financial help assisted me in becoming debt free. I am grateful for this, because now I can finally lead a normal financial life. With your help, not only am I out of debt, but I have received proper financial guidance and counseling with those who were willing to sit with me and help. Now I will be able to better manage my family’s finances in an effective and responsible way, and I believe that will make a great deal of difference in my effectiveness as a believer. I am not exaggerating when I say that this financial help released me from worries which kept me in a sort of prison. I am grateful to you and to the Lord."
(?10,000 = $2,160 or ?1,222)
Sagi, Revive Israel
"We wish to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the financial help of ?5,000 that was much needed for family dental repairs. In our congregational ministry, we often meet new people but have never had a high level of confidence due to the fact that our teeth were in a state of disrepair. We were unable to financially manage this much needed dental work as my wife earns very little as a caretaker and so we mostly rely upon help from the National Insurance. We are also supporting my wife’s mother who lives with us, an 85 year old widow. In spite of all this, we always obediently tithe from everything we have.
So your help is a confirmation of the justice and security of the Lord. We thank you and pray that your ministry will grow and bring joy to you and to all the people you are helping."
(?5,000 = $1080 or ?680)
Boris, Congregation Ma’ayanot Chaim
What the pastors and leaders are saying…
"Thank you very much for your very generous gift of ?13,000 to the needy people of the Ethiopian Messianic congregations in Israel. We are very grateful for your prayer and significant financial support. It has greatly encouraged us and helped us to move forward in the vision that God has given us to build his Kingdom here in Israel."
(?13,000 = $2,900 or ?1,600)
Congregation Torch of Gideon
We want to express our deepest gratitude for the significant financial gift of ?10,000 we received from you to help cover the cost of an urgent medical operation for Avner B.Y. The operation was successful and we thank God for His provision and healing power. Thank you for being a vessel of his care.
(?10,000 = $2,300 or ?1,300)
Congregation Ohalei Rachamim (Tents of Mercy)
Thank you so very much for your donation of ?23,000. This contribution has joined to underwrite the cost of warehouse palletized shelving to receive humanitarian aid to Israel that has been donated by charitable organizations.
Our Israeli headquarters distribute through its 26 centers located throughout the land. Some clothing and supplies go to street people. Most goes to new immigrants who land here with only two suitcases with which to begin their new life. The language and customs can seem strange and overwhelming. They are comforted by knowing someone cares.
The Joseph Project, on behalf of all the thousands of recipients who will receive this humanitarian aid because you helped build the infrastructure, is deeply grateful to you.
(?23,000 = $5,165 or ?2,820)
The Joseph Project
Lately our congregation submitted a request for financial help of ?13,000 for one of our congregants because of a very difficult financial situation. Our sister, R, lived in the States for some years, got saved there and was thereafter guided by God to return to her native Israel. R returned two years ago to face different difficulties that were connected to her past.
To close this chapter of her life which includes considerable debt, she really needed the help she received from your generous donation. Because of this donation, R has been set free from the debts that tied her down until now and she is now far more able to focus on her growth in her faith and her service to the Lord. I want to thank you for your generous support.
(?13,000 = $2,900 or ?1,600)
Congregation Maayan (The Fountain)
We wanted to thank you for your generous help of ?23,000 to families who were wounded in terrorist attacks. Your contributors helped us very much and completed the amount that was missing in this special project to make the holiday season a joyful one - with gifts of food and supplies for these stricken families. The families thank everyone for the donation that helped them to spend the holidays in happiness with food on the table and the possibility to buy other things needed for the holidays.
We also wish to thank you on behalf of the Moiel family for the generous donation that gave them light, hope and joy. They were very simply without words from happiness. Your donation surprised them and brought tears to their eyes. They will be sending you a thank you letter.
(?23,000 = $5,165 or ?2,820)
Barry & Batya Segal
Vision for Israel Ministries and The Joseph Storehouse
Enclosed are the receipts for the recent gift given to the N family. They will be sending a personal thank you letter.
I know that the gift of ?9,000 was a great blessing and encouragement for them.
They have used it in a prudent manner to greatly reduce their indebtedness. We will be sitting with them monthly to help them plan a budget and keep out of future debt.
The istandwithisrael.com fund has made a tremendous difference in many believers’ lives. Of course all needs are not met through just finances. Growing young families such as this family have many needs. Yet, I believe that the easing of their current financial pressure coupled with sound counseling will make a difference. Thanks for being there.
(?9,000 = $1,944 or ?1,100)
Congregation Yam Ahavato (Sea of His Love)
Bat Yam, Israel
A BEACHHEAD IN THE ISRAELI DRUZE COMMUNITY
|Note: The Druze community in Israel numbers some 104,000 people out of a world-wide population of about a million. Their secretive, closed religion is an offshoot of Islam which came into being in the 11th century. They believe Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, was their founder. There has scarely been any Druze who have come to believe in Yeshua until now. God has not forgotten the Druze, and today there is a stirring of the Holy Spirit among the them but not without persecution.
"I would like to thank you very much for your help of a total of 30,000 for our Druze brothers and sisters who have been going through very hard times. It is extremely unusual for a Druze to become a believer in Yeshua the Messiah, and now, when several whole families husbands, wives and children have come to Yeshua, it is something unheard of! It is a miracle! These families are living under continuous persecution. Their lives have been threatened by Druze from their village, and their children have been threatened with kidnapping. There have been notes on their doors, calls in the middle of the night and several have been severely beaten. One of our brothers was attacked by five hooligans who broke a vertebra in his neck. Another time, there was an attempt to murder two of our brothers when a car tried to run over them, but God spared them!
The druze, whose closed community is generally loyal to israel,
rejects members who leave the druze religion.
When one of the brothers first came to faith, he was afraid to speak about it even to his wife for fear of rejection, violence or murder. After some time he did tell her and she also came to faith in Yeshua the Messiah.
The Druze brothers and sisters who become believers, face strong resistance from their families. It even came to a point that one of our brother’s own father spat at him, which in the Druze culture is considered the worst expression of scorn and humiliation. In a recent incident a believer was attacked while driving his car. People came with stones and bars and tried to kill him. The car was demolished but he was still somehow able to drive away in it. Afterwards, the car had to be towed away. This brother reached a point of mental fatigue and was on the edge of collapse.
Lately, also their wives have been threatened by their own families, so it is very difficult for them. For the Druze, it is a tough issue when a family member leaves the Druze religion. There have been cases where a father or a brother has murdered his own family members. They consider it an outrage against the honor and good name of their family when one of them leaves the Druze religion. Now some of our believing sisters are enduring this type of pressure from their families.
Also the children are going through a difficult time at school and in the village. It isn’t easy for them at all. Their classmates, and sometimes even the teachers, have laughed and mocked them.
Even with all this, our Druze brothers and sisters are holding on to the Lord and declaring that they will not leave Him. They want to stand in the faith, whatever it costs them, and, in this case, it is often a question of life and death. It is just God’s grace that up till now they are all still with us.
In addition to all this hardship, they also face financial problems. One of the brothers suffers from the not uncommon illness of combat fatigue after serving in the Israeli army. Another brother had a work-related accident about 10 years ago and is crippled. Others have been without work for a long time in an economically depressed sector of the Israeli society, or their bosses have been paying them irregularly or not paying them at all for long periods of time. Usually in the Druze society, the individual member enjoys the support, both financially and physically, of the extended family. In this case our brothers have been rejected by all and most of them are in debt and finding it hard to keep taking care of the basic needs of their families.
Your financial help was a great blessing for them! It has enabled them to buy food and has helped to reduce the pressure. Our brothers are very thankful for your kind and loving physical support. Please continue to pray for all the Druze brothers and sisters, that God will strengthen them and be with them."
(?30,000 = $6,480 or ?3,666)
Daniel Yahav - Congregation Peniel
One of our greatest pleasures in life is to sit down every month with our istandwithisrael.com committee to review the applications from Israeli Messianic believers who desperately need assistance.
We love having you as partners and we love the fact that you are giving us the opportunity to lift the poor, the oppressed and the needy out of their despair and hopelessness, giving them a chance to breathe again, or even work towards getting a better job.
Since the Bible puts such a high premium on helping the poor, we know that your istandwithisrael.com gifts are pleasing to the Lord.
In the three years since we began this fund, we have distributed your contributions through more than 50 congregations throughout Israel! We have in place a very effective process where we receive and review applications from the local Messianic leaders all across Israel.
After our recommendations for these applications are made, they are emailed to our entire Maoz board for consideration and approval.
Finally, the check is written and the gift is sent to the pastor who delivers it to the recipient.
Sometimes we cooperate with other Messianic organizations that specialize in certain areas of humanitarian aid to Israelis such as terrorist victims.
We feel the responsibility of distributing these funds in the most effective way possible, in a way that will help those really in need and in a way that will glorify God.
We thank you with all our hearts!
Much love and Happy Hanukkah from the both of us, and from our staff members in Israel, the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. I (Ari) have given a message explaining “Why Israel?” Why does the book of Romans say “To the Jew First?” I want to make this CD or DVD (specify which one you want) my gift to all of our partners who give any gift to Maoz or istandwithisrael.com this month! I trust it will encourage and enlighten our many many friends who make this ministry possible to the people of Israel. Request it today!