A Passover in Russia
The evening before, all of us had participated in a public Passover seder demonstration that the Moscow station of Jews For Jesus hosted in a local movie theater. Now it was the traditional second seder night,” and our family of staff and volunteers gathered in Ella Libkina’s home to celebrate more privately our redemption through the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
More than once that night, my eyes wandered to the punctured window pane that overlooks the building where the Duma, the Russian Parliament, meets. Coincidentally, the building is called the White House. The puncture in Ella’s window is a legacy from a night in 1993, when a conflict between Russia’s president and Russia’s parliament had to be resolved with tanks and troops.
Some might think that the puncture in Ella’s window is a reminder of the precarious state of affairs in a Russia that struggles with its first experiment in democracy. Some might think it is a sorry promise of what is yet to be. We’ll see.
Yet regardless of present problems, regardless of the possible perils of the future, there was great rejoicing on the night that we celebrated Passover in Ella Libkina’s apartment.
Whatever the future might hold, these Post-Soviet Jews For Jesus were free. And not just free. They were redeemed in the fullest sense of the word—redeemed for service. Through their faith in the death and resurrection of the Messiah Yeshua, they had been freed from one master—sin. Now, they were servants of another Master—the Lord who had purchased them with His blood. For the present, all of them had chosen to remain in Russia so that together we might proclaim the Gospel to our people in the place where they are most willing to listen—within the confines of the former Soviet State.
Before the seder ended at Ella’s place, the thought came to me that I had been sitting, eating and fellowshipping in the midst of an answered prayer. So, I decided to tell the others.
“I won’t make a speech,” I promised in Russian.
“We don’t believe you,” Nadya quickly cut in.
“Okay, okay, I’ll make a speech,” I admitted.
“See?” Nadya said.
“When I was a boy in America, every year at Pesach we talked about the Jewish people who were still imprisoned within the Soviet Union. And every year at the seder, we recited special prayers for the liberation of all people who were still enslaved, especially for our people behind the iron curtain. Now we’re here together.” I stopped for a moment. Then I added, “You’re an answer to my prayer.”
When I was a boy, I had no idea of the freedom I would one day find…or that I would travel thousands of miles and learn a new language to help bring it to my Russian brothers and sisters.
Real freedom is not found in a place. It’s found in a Person.
Real freedom is not a license to pursue our personal goals. It’s a responsibility to perform the will of the One who purchased us.
Real freedom is not liberation FROM service. Rather, it is being set free IN ORDER to serve.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.