On the morning of Purim, March 5 in Odessa, Ukraine, a Russian radical group bombed a Ukrainian nationalistic volunteer office. It was the biggest bombing yet by radicals in Odessa. The targeted volunteer office was actually upstairs, but the dissidents bombed the downstairs apartment by mistake.
Currently it is used by members of Or Hamashiah (Light of Messiah) Congregation, led by Valentin Sviontek, who oversees the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Ukraine. This ministry reaches out to street children, which are many in Odessa. About 20 kids are being touched through their efforts.
A Canadian woman who attends Or Hamashiah is leading this children’s ministry with much help from eager volunteers from the congregation. Many of the kids they reach have mental problems. They are brought to the congregation regularly for services and are loved, included, and served by the generous members. Six boys and a volunteer were sleeping there when the bomb exploded in a back bedroom. Thankfully, none were injured, but the trauma emotionally has been great for these kids.
Oddly, the bombing took place on the day of Purim, and Val—an MJBI field worker in Odessa—was the one directly affected as well as the innocent children. I don’t think it was an accident in Satan’s mind. Truly what the devil meant for evil God will use for good.
A very old Jewish question is echoing again around the world, “Do you have a bag packed?” The stereotypical nickname for God’s ancient people, “wandering Jew,” holds more than a grain of truth. Unjust persecution, hatred, threats, and death itself drove the Jewish people to live with a “bag packed” for safety and peace of mind.
I found two recent and very compelling articles on the subject of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism. “Is it Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” in The Atlantic (theatlantic.com) by Jeffrey Goldberg, and “How to Fight Anti-Semitism” by David Brooks in the New York Times.
These authors state that thousands of Jews are fleeing Europe and cite a myriad of recent incidents: a Jewish French principal who watched the execution of his 8-year old daughter in a school yard, a Swedish rabbi who has had over 150 anti-Semitic attacks ranging from spitting to ramming his car, and Jewish kids who are terrified to go to school because of chants like “Dirty Jew” and “I want to kill you.”
Jeffrey Goldberg writes, “Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—’dirty Jew’—rang in the streets, as did ‘Death to the Jews,’ and ‘Jews to the gas.’”
As the Jewish community in Europe and the former Soviet Union is unsettled, God is at work. We believe God has raised up the MJBI as one of the harvesting instruments to bless the Jewish people and bring the Good News of Yeshua. The MJBI funds staff in Ukraine, Russia, and Hungary as well as provides numerous training and support to these Messianic communities.
There is unprecedented spiritual hunger now. Please pick up the enclosed envelope and give generously for the critical work before us. We rejoice with joy unspeakable because we know that where darkness abounds grace and light abound even more!