At this point in time, the nation and the people of Ukraine are going through a terribly challenging and difficult time. The entire nation has come face-to-face with a brutal reality that they had never experienced before. The people are scared and confused, and moreover, their hearts have been hardened against the Russian people and a deep bitterness has set in.
From a human perspective this is a totally relatable and understandable reaction to having your country invaded and ravaged, but how should a born-again believe in Christ respond? How should one deal with the incredible pain and disappointment, as well as the deep hatred and anger that threatens to take root in one’s heart? After all, we are human beings like everyone else.
It was during this difficult and troubling time in Ukraine that God laid it on our hearts to journey to Ukraine to help the people there in any way we could. Through the grace of God we were able to financially bless many families who were left destitute without their bread-winners, as they had been sent to war. We were also able to connect with a local Ukrainian church and support the critical humanitarian work that they are doing in providing food, clothing, and other essentials to people on the streets and those affected by the war.
Above all, we had come to Ukraine with a Word from the Lord, to encourage and strengthen the people of Ukraine, but also to lay down a challenge from the Lord. The Lord had laid it on my heart to talk about forgiveness. During a time such as this in the nation of Ukraine, forgiveness is a very painful and difficult topic to talk about. Countless people have lost their families, their homes, their livelihoods, and are forced to wander the streets in search of a means to survive. In spite of all this though, the Word of God tells us in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Ukrainians are experiencing a terrible new reality—one that have been dragging on for several months now—which we as the people of Israel have been enduring all throughout our long history of suffering and persecution. The Jewish people have always been subjected to attempts at their destruction at the hands of all sorts of enemies. Despite this, we as Jewish believers in Jesus, have learned to pray for and bless our enemies, and moreover, to forgive and to love unconditionally. For this reason, I could boldly speak about it to the Ukrainian people.
I spoke at length about the challenge that Jewish people face in forgiving the Holocaust, and I shared of a precious experience when teenagers from Jewish believing families united with teenagers from German churches, to visit Auschwitz with the Yad-be-Yad program (hand-in-hand). It was a beautiful journey of spiritual growth and awakening as young Jewish and German believers walked hand-in-hand on the path to Auschwitz where one nation aspired to destroy another long before.
Walking this path was an extremely difficult challenge for both groups. As the young Jewish believers passed through the halls of Auschwitz where items and memories of a destroyed people were on display, their hearts were torn with grief for their forefathers who suffered and died there. At the same time, the hearts of the German youth were torn asunder with pain and shame for the deeds of their ancestors. But no matter how hard it is, Jesus provides us with the strength to forgive, to bless, to accept and even to love.
Unfortunately, the Holocaust was not the final time that the Jewish people suffered at the hands of their enemies. To this very day Israel is surrounded by Arab nations who dream of destroying the people and state of Israel. Our children here in Israel understand exactly what to do when the missile sirens sound in our cities. Those who live in the Tel Aviv area only have two minutes within which to rapidly respond and find shelter in a bomb shelter. For those who live further south, as well as those who live near the border with Gaza, have less than 30 seconds within which ti find shelter when the sirens sound.
Despite all this, Jewish believers have learned to forgive, to pray, to bless, and to love the enemies of Israel. We have a wonderful relationship with Christian Arab brothers and sisters in the land of Israel, and we have seen that only Christ can do the impossible, to give His Shalom to irreconcilable nations.
This message that I shared with believers in Ukraine was received into their hearts of all those who heard it. I pray that this will be the first step towards the victory of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the people of Ukraine. Please stand with us in prayer for the salvation of the Ukrainian and Russian people, for the Lord to establish His Shalom between them, and also for the protection of Ukraine. Amen.
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