Story of a Russian Israeli
It used to be that my life would begin each Friday at noon. That was when my last class was over and I was free to do what was then most important to me: find the hevreh” (gang, group of friends) and plan our weekend. We all wanted to have as good a time as possible during that treasured day-and-a-half of free time! My thoughts were far from God—I doubted that He even existed.
As time went on, the weekends with the parties and the drinking and the discotheques seemed to be more and more of a drag; when I began to think about what I was doing, it all seemed artificial—just stupid games that I really did not want to play. I realized my “live-for-the-weekend” lifestyle would never give me true happiness, could never satisfy the deep longing I felt. That longing was to have “something” or “someone” that would give my life meaning.
My name is David. I was born 18 years ago in Kazachstan. I had just finished the third grade when my parents announced that we were all moving to Israel. For a nine-year-old, the thought of leaving everything and everyone I knew to start a new life was not too comforting! But once in Israel, I made lots of friends and was surprised by how fast I fit into the scene. I felt that Israel was truly my home. Friends became all important and eventually we looked for enjoyment in the types of activities described earlier.
Last August, a group of us traveled to the shore of the Sea of Galilee to attend an annual music event called the “Festival of Love.” The gathering loosely commemorates the biblical account of the Benjamite men whose solution to the shortage of wives is described in Judges 21. The book of Judges tells how everyone did what was right in their own eyes, and so it is during this festival, which begins at 8 pm and lasts until daybreak.
Somehow I felt out of place that night and left all my friends to sit alone in the dirt, away from the crowd. Suddenly I heard a guy say something about Yeshua (Jesus), a name I hadn’t thought about for some time. I wanted to hear what was being said, and when a couple of other guys replied by scorning Yeshua, it really bothered me. I turned and said, “Don’t say that about Yeshua, he is a good person.” The one who began the conversation left those who were mocking and came over to talk to me about the Messiah.
I explained to this man that I had once visited an Orthodox church before my family came to Israel. I remember feeling drawn to Yeshua, but I didn’t really know why.
It was there by the Galilee, that this man I had never met before explained to me for the first time that God loves me and that He sent the Messiah to atone for my sins. These sins, I learned, were what kept me from knowing God—but I could know God if I accepted Yeshua as my Savior and Lord. At the end of the conversation the man asked me if I wanted to receive Yeshua right there. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes, I want to invite Him into my life.”
So there at the entrance gate to the “Festival of Love,” sitting in the dirt, I opened my heart and prayed. The place was not important—God sees the heart. He immediately overwhelmed me as I sensed His love and His Holy Spirit being poured out on me. For me, it truly became a celebration of real love!
I knew that my life had to change. I began meeting with the guy who had introduced me to Yeshua, reading the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures. As I read, I felt close to God and knew that this was the truth—it was what my heart had been longing for all along. I understood that God demands a holy life so I began to struggle with sin. But God helped me and continues to help me.
Yeshua now means everything to me. Day by day, my desire is to serve the Lord all my life by sharing the gospel with the people of Israel.
David’s mentor introduced him to us and we are excited to be able to invite David on a summer program that will introduce him to other young Jewish believers in Jesus who want to share the gospel with our Jewish people worldwide. You can read about that program, Halutzim, on page 7.