Igor Barbanel directs our work throughout the CIS. He is based in Odessa, where he is very much involved in the day-to-day work of telling people about Yeshua (Jesus). Igor reports:

“I was handing out gospel broadsides about Hanukkah when a Jewish woman, Lydia, approached me to take one. I gave her a traditional holiday greeting and she replied, ‘Young man, I know more about Hanukkah than you do.’ [Igor is actually a grandfather!—Ed.] Lydia explained that her grandfather had observed the Jewish feasts and taught her about them. Suddenly, she started singing a well-known Hanukkah song in Hebrew. I pointed out that the word ‘yeshua,’ which she was singing in the phrase maoz tzur yeshua ti, means ‘salvation’ in Hebrew—and that this same word is Jesus’ name in Hebrew.

“I explained the gospel message to Lydia, who had not heard it before. She said, ‘We were taught to be atheists at schools and universities during the Soviet era.’ ‘Yes,’ I agreed. ‘But that doesn’t mean that what we were taught is true.’

“Lydia gave me her contact info and cell phone number to be in touch. Please pray that she will experience the salvation that she has sung about since childhood.”

Jewish people in the former Soviet Union, like others, were repressed for many years and trained from an early age to believe that God does not exist. How wonderful that hanging on to simple traditions can open the door to the realities that lie behind them! Please pray for our staff in Russia and Ukraine to continue connecting with people like Lydia, who will be ready to question their presuppositions.