By Moshe Morrison
My 15-year old daughter, Netanya was on her way home from school and was waiting for a bus outside the central station. It was cold and she had neglected to take a coat with her that morning. As she stood there shivering, a young Israeli soldier came and gave her his warm coat to wear until the bus came. Who was this gallant knight in shining armor (actually military khaki) come to rescue the damsel in distress? It was Ygal, the subject of this testimony, another one of Yeshua's young warriors from Tents of Mercy.
Ygal is 23 years old and has been at Tents of Mercy since we began in 1996. He was born in Ukraine, and moved to Israel with his mother and her parents in 1991, when he was about 6 years old. Though Jewish, none of the family was religious or traditional in any way.
Not long after they came here, Ygal's grandmother was invited to a gathering of believers and was the first one in the family to receive Yeshua. She brought along Ygal's mother who also became a believer. Ygal was only 7, not yet ready to come to faith, but he attended services with them. They went to several different congregations until Tents of Mercy opened its doors.
Up until he was 14, Ygal went along with things but really did not have a genuine faith. He was part of our first official Bar Mitzvah class together with Andrey (our youth leader), Dima (our young adult leader) and my son Rami. It was strange for him. He had only ever been to one Bar Mitzvah and that was my son Judah's the year before. Because he still did not have a personal relationship with God, Ygal's Bar Mitzvah did not have deep spiritual meaning for him. However, he saw it as an important stage in his development.
Ygal's Bar Mitzvah came at a time when there were some major changes taking place in his life. In elementary school, Ygal had been a very angry and violent boy. He fought frequently with schoolmates. His mother and grandmother were often called to the school to meet with administrators regarding his conduct. These were the early years of the mass exodus from the crumbling Soviet empire. Israelis, both long time immigrants and those born here often resented the newcomers - a surefire recipe for fights among young people.
Ygal moved up to middle school. He initially had a couple of fights in self defense, but he felt that the anger had gone out of him and he saw an opportunity to change his attitude. He decided to prove himself not with his fists but with his brain. He set out to work really hard and get good grades. Ygal's efforts paid off and he became one of the best students. He still wasn't praying at this point, but others definitely were.
|Ygal with Tents of Mercy friends|
Around this time, Ygal's mother decided to leave Tents of Mercy. She was still a believer, but the group that she decided to connect with was aberrant. She had all kinds of strange ideas as to what she was going to do and what Ygal was going to do as well.
When his mother chose this way, Ygal was faced with having to make a decision about his own life: Would he follow the leading of God for himself or follow his mother into a cult. Ygal chose to stay. Though it was difficult for his mother, in time she accepted Yigal's choice because she was at least happy that he wanted to follow the Lord. Though she never returned to Tents of Mercy, after awhile she did leave the other group, finally seeing its serious errors. But for Ygal this was the crisis point where he fully put his trust in Yeshua - for salvation and to find his destiny in Him.
Over the next three years Ygal got himself up every Shabbat morning and walked to Tents of Mercy. The youth group was undergoing construction, and there were a number of different people involved in the building process who all contributed to its identity. Ygal was growing with the group. Ygal recalled one message in those days that powerfully affected him. It was a call to thirst after the glory of the Lord. The speaker challenged Ygal that if he truly thirsted after God then his life would change dramatically. Ygal realized God was calling him to live for Yeshua rather than for himself. And God blessed him with success.
When Ygal finished high school, rather than go the customary route directly into the Israel Defense Force, he chose the option of going to college first to study electronics. After his one and a half years of study he would begin his military commitment. The trade off was that Ygal would have a longer term of service to compensate for the time deferred.
|Ygal sharing at a men's retreat|
God has spoken to Ygal about what he needs to accomplish after his army service. One thing he believes he needs to do is travel to the USA to meet his father - whom he has not seen for 17 years. Ygal continues serving the youth of the congregation, not just in handing out warm coats in cold bus stations but in keeping the members of the young adult group connected.
He has some inspiration and inclination towards film-making that will impact people with spiritual realities. He also knows that he will continue helping people to come closer to the Lord - counseling and encouraging anyone the Lord brings, but especially young people.
When asked if there was anything specific he would like to say to you reading this article, Ygal requested continued intense prayer for our young people. He confidently asserted that a revival is stirring among Israeli youth. Ygal: "We need the strength and courage to resist any schemes of the devil to stop God's plans and His grace to fulfill our part in the mighty work of God." God has taken this young fighter and made him a warrior of love in the Kingdom of God.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: The Tragic Death Of Benazir Bhutto|
|Martin Shoub: Light in the Darkness|
|David Shishkoff: Close Encounters Of An Israeli Kind|
|From Kibbutz To The Kehilah: Tal's Testimony|