In 1996, I began teaching the first Bar Mitzvah class of Ohalei Rachamim. My first four students were my son Rami, Ygal, Andrey and Dima. Ten years have passed and I want to focus in this article on Andrey who has recently finished his army service and has returned to serve at Tents of Mercy. Dima also has completed his time in the military and he also has a call on his life. We'll look at his story in another issue of Oasis. Rami still has another six months in the Israel Defense Forces and Ygal still has another two years because he did additional studies before entering the IDF.
Andrey is 22 and came to Israel from the Ukraine at the age of 12, with his believing parents and older brother. This Bar Mitzvah training was one of the first things Andrey did after the family started attending Ohalei Rachamim and he hardly knew any Hebrew. Part of the preparation was learning the melody of the portion he would chant from the Torah. We laugh about it now because the tape he practiced with was produced in Brooklyn and when he sang his portion he did it with a slight New York accent. When Andrey learned to speak Hebrew, he and my son Judah became best friends.
Though the Bar Mitzvah was a new and exciting experience, Andrey remembers the classes we had for the young teens making even more of a deep impression on him. At that time we were in the old warehouse across the road from our present synagogue and since we were limited in space we met in my eleven-seater Ford van. Several of us rotated teaching those sessions. Andrey also remembered a message given by Michelle T. who was leading the congregational youth group at that time. It had to do with praising God in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Several years later in the midst of challenging times in his life, the words of that message returned to help him.
All these things were like seeds being prepared for a harvest, for Andrey still had not given his heart fully to the Lord. But it happened in the summer of 1999 at the Souled Out youth camp. During a time of group prayer a warm and soft feeling from heaven came over him. "It was the most wonderful thing I have ever felt in my whole life," is how he describes it. It was the love of God - not something far off, but close at hand. Later on that same day he began to reflect on the holiness of God and saw his own sinfulness. He knew he had a choice to make; either to go on trying to direct his own life or give it over completely to Yeshua. When he chose the latter something dramatic changed on the inside. He knew he was a different person, all heaviness lifted and he was filled with happiness. The Bible came alive. He realized that he wanted to do something - to give to others some of what he received.
The next couple of years were a whirlwind of activity; youth group, worship team, conferences, many meetings deeply experiencing the presence of God. Andrey was the drummer for Corban Chai (Living Sacrifice) the youth worship band of our congregation that Judah led. They were extremely popular with young Israeli believers all over the country. Many of their songs were written by Judah and are part of the regular worship of many Israeli congregations.
In 2003, after spending 3 months on Cyprus at a discipleship training camp, Andrey entered the Israel Defense Forces. He prayed that the will of God be done regarding where he would serve. His greatest desire was to share Yeshua with others. He was assigned to drive a tank. During his three years of service he saw action in the Gaza strip and was in life-threatening situations. On several occasions it was very clear that God intervened to spare his live and those with him. It was the most difficult time he ever had faced; physically, emotionally and spiritually. God not only kept Andrey alive, He kept his faith intact. Andrey trusted in the fact that God put him there and prayed that Yeshua would be manifest not only in his words, but in how he lived.
All along, the love of God for young people never left his heart. He knew what it was like to struggle through the difficulties of youth and wanted to help them grow and develop. To let them know that that there was someone there for them. When Andrey finished the army he traveled to the United States for two months. He sought the Lord for a vision for his future. He had been invited by several ministries to work with them, but he laid it all down before God. Upon his return, Andrey received a call from Sasha, the current leader of Tents of Mercy's youth group. He invited Andrey to come and work with the young people here. It was even a job with a salary! The Lord made it clear that this was his place. For the last three months he has been serving about 25 kids between the ages of 12 to 18. His vision is to build a strong community of young people from Bar/Bat Mitzvah on up. He is believing God for their own youth center. Andrey says, "God began my life here and I feel we need to keep it up for others."
This is real fruit. This young man, having been raised up in our midst, has come full circle to take his place in the community. Andrey is here to give what he has received from God to others who are following behind him. May we see this multiplied over and over again. May it be a hallmark of our ministries that as our people mature in God their desire is to serve. Not just in Ohalei Rachamim but everywhere the Lord opens doors.
|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:
|Ron Cantor: The Most Hated People On Earth|
|Marty Shoub: Lift Up Your Eyes|
|Asher Intrater: Yom Kippur & Pnina's Pies|
|Shmuel Belay: A Breath of Life at New Age Festival|