People need people. People are hurt, exploited, betrayed or even killed by people. And people are healed by people…
This is what happened to Anatoly Uzhomirsky, who was born in Kiev in 1959 to Jewish parents. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, a huge metropolis with about 3 million inhabitants. Many of them are Jews, most of them assimilated. After all, more than 70 years of communism have not passed them by without leaving a trace. Most Ukrainian Jews hardly knew the history of their people and knew nothing of the God of their fathers.
After his conversion, God had commissioned him to preach the Gospel to the Jews in Germany. But he thought he could do it just as well in Israel. Why in Germany of all places? He often asked himself that. But God didn’t keep him waiting long and showed him what he was meant to do.
One day he went on a trip to the Black Forest with his family. When they returned to the car after the hike, he saw an old lady looking intently at the sticker on her car. On it was a combination of a Star of David, a seven-branched candelabrum and a fish – presumably the sign of the first Jewish Christians. The woman asked very politely what it meant. He explained to her that we were Jews and believed in Jesus. She listened attentively, and he noticed how her facial expression changed when she heard the word “Jews.”
Then she began to cry and told the sad story of her father, who had hidden and saved a Jewish family who believed in Jesus during the Nazi era, and had himself perished in the process. Again and again the woman repeated the sentences: “Jews again in Germany! Jews who believe in Jesus – that can’t be true!”
Then the Holy Spirit whispered to Anatoli, “This woman has suffered just as you have and now finds reconciliation for her great loss in you, in your family, and in the Jews who live in Germany again. Her words showed him that it was not grief over her father’s death that prevailed, but amazement at God’s action and a sense that her father’s sacrifice was not in vain.
It is God’s chance for both, Germans and Jews, to become a blessing for each other after the evil years of calamity. Certainly, the relationship of some is heavily burdened by the past, and what happened then must never be trivialized.
I was personally touched by the sentence of Anatoli Uschomirski: “But in Jesus we Jews can overcome the wall of guilt that stands between us. Thus we can exemplify the reconciling power of his love to the world, so that it sees and recognizes in us what Lisa Loben expressed in a song: “He is our peace, we are one! He has made us one. The fence is broken down. He is our peace, we are one!”
Because Anatoli had this calling within him, he wanted to study theology. After graduation, he became a pastor in a Messianic congregation near Esslingen.
After a service, an elderly gentleman approached him. Even as he saw him from a distance, he thought, “This old man is very heavy, for he moves as if he has been carrying a heavy load on his shoulders for years. Sighing, he reached out his hand and whispered, “I was a Nazi and did many bad things. A few years ago I invited Jesus into my heart and asked for forgiveness. Then God opened my eyes to his people. Thank you for the good sermon. But I’m not sure God wants to forgive me for my sins against His people.”
Of course, the pastor couldn’t help but think of his relatives who had been murdered by the Nazis. I can imagine that all these memories flooded him….
Pastor Anatoli saw in the eyes of his interlocutor the deep pain of the guilt of the past and was unable to say or do anything on his own. He cried out inwardly to the Lord and He touched his heart so that he could shake hands with this broken man. Thus their trembling hands met. Then he spoke to him the words of the apostle John: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all sin.” 1 John 1:9
You should have seen the old man afterwards. His posture and walk were completely changed! He had given his heavy burdens to God and had even been forgiven by a Jew. In the power of God we can forgive even if we do not forget.
God sometimes puts us through the very things that take us through pain in order to heal us and prepare us for greater tasks. Unfortunately, if we do not overcome the spiritual barriers in such situations, we will always fail in our future. I can well imagine many a Jew at this point exclaiming in despair, “Help Jesus, I am a Jew!”
Many of us feel similarly. We know what God wants from us. But putting it into action is another matter.
Moses, of whom we read in the Bible, also received a mission from God and successfully carried it out with his help. At the beginning, he had great doubts: “Why me? I am much too weak, God, why don’t you choose someone else who is stronger and has more self-confidence than me?
Or: “What if the Israelites don’t listen to me and don’t understand me? Then he did what God had told him to do.
We have decided to help the Israelites so that we can fulfill God’s mission in our lives. For this we need your support and prayer. That we follow the example of Moses and give our lives completely to our Lord Jesus, he will do it well.
As you know, John and I like to support people in Israel. For several years we have been traveling to Israel and accompanying the churches that have been established during these years. Maybe not many people know that we have over 225,000 Jews in Germany.
So God calls us that some live their calling in Israel and others in Germany. So that people are served through people. As it says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and you will fulfill the law of Christ.”