As David mentioned, one way that we deal with the Christ-less Christmas culture around us is to step up efforts to engage people in meaningful conversations about Jesus. That includes extra sorties (tract-passing expeditions). In Russia and Ukraine, our evangelists usually conduct what they refer to as mini-Hanukkah campaigns. Last year they named their special December efforts “Operation Light in the Darkness.” In just a few weeks they handed out over 82,000 gospel tracts, and received 91 contacts, over half of which were from Jewish people who are curious about Jesus. Eleven people made professions of faith, including five Jewish people. Hallelujah!
By the time they were finished and their reports had been translated into English and sent to us, you’d already received your January newsletter and we were already working on our spring editions!
We thought that seeing some reports from last year’s “Operation Light in the Darkness” would encourage you to pray for our missionaries this month, especially those in the colder climates.
Maxim Ammosov writes: “During the Hanukkah mini-campaign, I stopped a man who I thought might be Jewish, but his big beard might also have been worn by an Orthodox Christian Russian man. I asked him if he knew the holiday of Hanukkah. He said yes, but I still had doubts. ‘Are you Jewish?’ I asked. ‘Can’t you see?’ he replied. It turned out that Yuri had attended the synagogue for a long time and considered himself an expert in Judaism.
“Yuri said that years ago, he used to meet with someone from Jews for Jesus. He stopped when his rabbi forbade him to continue. But he was still interested so I began to talk about the Messiah, the fact that many prophets predicted His coming, and how Jesus fulfilled prophecies. ‘For example?’ he asked. I told him about Isaiah 53. ‘Send me some information about this,’ he said, and gave me his contact information. A few days later, I called to invite him to our Hanukkah celebration. He told me he wouldn’t be able to come and I was about to say goodbye when suddenly he said, ‘Hey, wait, you promised to send me something about the Prophet Isaiah; will you?’ ‘Of course, I will,’ I told him. I was so glad that he was still eager to receive it!”
Leonid Krouter reported: “Winter has come and our campaign for Hanukkah was the coldest ever for the Jews for Jesus campaign in Kiev. It was not only a struggle with cold and frost, but it was also an internal struggle since many people ran past without taking our literature. But despite the cold weather, God gave us good fellowship and open contacts. There is no greater joy for a missionary than to see people open to the gospel.”
Natasha Krouter reported: “I was broadsiding near the Shulyavskaya subway station. People weren’t very willing to take the tracts, so I asked God to encourage me. After some time, a man began to talk to me. In the course of the conversation, I learned that his father was Jewish and that he was interested in knowing more about his Jewishness and about God. He gave me his full contact information. God comforted me thus. Pray for the follow-up with Mikhail.”
Eduard Granovsky reported: “‘Lord, don’t let me become an icy statue of a missionary! Help me hand out these broadsides and give me an encounter!’ That was my prayer. It was below -10° C (14° F), and smoke was rising in white columns from factory smokestacks, against the bright blue sky. And our broadsides matched the sky: a bright blue hanukkiah against the white background of a leaf. Beautiful! But I wished it wasn’t so cold!
“Not many people took broadsides, and of course my prayers continued to flow sincerely, from the bottom of my heart and from my shivering body!
A woman stopped and said, ‘Oh, Hanukkah! It’s interesting!’
‘Who do you think Jesus Christ is?’ I asked. ‘Who is He to you?’
‘It’s hard for me to say …’ she replied. Then she turned the broadside over, and said with surprise, ‘Jews for Jesus? I’m Jewish!’
“That’s how you forget about frost! Though my fingers could hardly hold a pen as I was writing down the address of this Jewish woman named Galina, I was happy as God had answered my prayers.”
Galina Bogomolova shares: “The last sortie of the Hanukkah mini campaign was difficult. It was cold and damp. Many people, when they saw the illustration of the Hannukiah on the tracts, withdrew their hand and said, “We are not Jewish, thank you.” Or, “It’s not our feast.” But many said something worse. I was very sad to see how anti-Semitism has been growing in my city. I was praying silently the whole time for God to bless this sortie. A man stopped and said, “Ah! It’s our feast!” Pavel was Jewish. He said it seemed very strange that I spoke about Jesus on Hanukkah.
“I tried to explain, ‘Hanukkah is a festival of light. Jesus is the Light of God.’ Pavel replied, ‘I don’t understand, but I’d like to read some literature about Jesus,’ and he gave me his full contact information. Praise God, I right away felt much warmer in my soul. Please pray for Pavel’s salvation.”
Valery Bolotov reports: “We enjoy Hanukkah very much, as it reminds us of the words of Yeshua, ‘You are the light of the world!’ And so we conducted a broadsiding mini-campaign. The natural forces tested those who came with us to bring the gospel to the lost. I would never think that during one week the weather could change so dramatically or so often. On the first day, the sun was shining brightly; people took our tracts willingly, especially at the market. On the third day, the sky was covered with clouds and it was drizzling, so I worried that people would stop taking our tracts. But it was God’s miracle as the number of passers-by suddenly increased, since everyone was in a hurry to finish their business before it started raining. And during that time, we were able to hand out more tracts than we had handed out in the good weather.
“On the morning of the fourth day of the campaign, the thermometer showed – 6° C (21° F). Wow! I wondered if our volunteers would be scared off by the weather. But despite severe cold and wind, seven volunteers were ready to go out on the streets. And that day, the Lord granted our team many contacts, both Jewish and Gentile, and a Jewish person prayed with us to receive the Lord. Glory be to our God!”
Tatyana Bolotova reported: “I would like to tell you about the last day of our mini-campaign, although I was very inspired by the whole campaign. There was strong frost and it was very windy. A young guy distributing ads next to me looked at me sympathetically and suggested I go and warm myself, but I shared the gospel with him and told him that many passers-by need salvation.
“In confirmation of my words, a woman stopped to say that she also celebrated the Jewish feasts (we handed out a broadside entitled ‘Hanukkah is the Feast of Lights‘). When I asked Lyuba who she thought Jesus was, she answered that every person has something of God in their soul. When I shared the Good News and said that Jesus was the only way to God Lyuba replied, “What must I do?” That response, so similar to the words of the jailer in Acts 16 (‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’), made me forgot about the cold and wind; I was so warmed by the opportunity to lead that Jewish woman to Yeshua. In a few minutes, Lyuba was repeating the words of the sinner’s prayer and agreed to give me her address in order to receive some free literature.
“We parted as friends and I kept on handing out the tracts, but she came back and said she didn’t want to leave because God had touched her heart and had given her so much joy. I promised to be in touch by phone. During the whole sortie, many interested people came up to me; it was unusual that in a frosty day, people didn’t run past, but on the contrary stopped to talk. It was an extraordinary day!”