When a man lives a good life,
many lives are affected.
Such a man is my long-time friend, Russell Resnik. This summer Russ
stepped down from eighteen years of directing the UMJC (Union of
Messianic Jewish Congregations).
Our connection goes all the way back to the 1960s when we both attended
the University of California at Santa Cruz. Then our relationship took a
leap forward when Russ suddenly showed up at my New Mexico adobe "hovel"
on the very day that my first son was born, in April 1970. A couple of
years later, on a remote high mountain mesa, we were sharecropping
side-by-side, farming the same piece of land. We were a commune
consisting of two couples with our small children (see photo!).
We were further and inseparably bonded by a simultaneous experience of
God's grace in salvation through Yeshua in October of 1972. Kneeling
on the dirt floor of a log and mud cabin, set amid the pines of the Jemez
Mountain range, we simultaneously asked Yeshua to forgive us our sins and
take over our hearts.
After returning to civilization, our paths continued in parallel. In the
mid-1970s we discovered the Jewishness of Yeshua and the New Covenant.
This transformed our comprehension of God's Word and of His call on
our lives. Entering full time ministry in 1977, we continued to
encourage one another. Along with our incredible wives, Jane and Connie,
we were mentored by Eliezer Urbach and found our destiny in the fledgling
movement of Jewish believers in Jesus.
Russell planted Adat Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish congregation, in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. As he became active in the larger sphere of the
UMJC's congregations, he was recruited to be its General Secretary.
Over the years, due to Rabbi Russ's diligence and gifting as a
teacher, writer, and counselor, the role became described as Executive
Director. From 1998 to 2016, through Russell's leadership, the UMJC
has enjoyed an era of strengthening, solidifying, and broadening of
influence. With his considerable abilities cloaked in genuine humility,
my dear friend has set a godly and biblical standard for others to
In his "retirement" speech Russ chronicled his family history from the
emigration of his Russian Jewish great grandparents to his
grandparents' life as part of the New York immigrant phenomenon, to
his parents' migration to Southern California. Now, he and Jane are
actively passing on the legacy of their devotion to the God of Israel to
their four children and seven grandchildren. He will also continue to
serve as a mentor to congregational leaders.
"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs
"Do not forsake your friend or your father's friend"
Through the fifty years that we have known each other, I have found a
faithful friend, and a truly good man. By God's grace I will never
forsake him. Over time, our friendship becomes sweeter, deeper, more
enjoyable and rewarding. Deep friendships are an essential portion of
God's design for us, and a major segment of His architectural plan
to build an eternal kingdom on earth. May your friendships be as rich
and life-impacting as mine is with Russell.