So now that I am old, and my hair is grey, don't abandon me, God, till I have proclaimed your strength to the next generation, your power to all who will come. Psalm 71:18
The Psalmist understood the treasure and strength that only years uncover. A treasure that unfolds its wealth only as it is passed down to the next generation. Our world rushes past those who have experienced the toils and triumphs of long years to look for the newest, the latest, the young. Scripture tells us that those who are planted by the Lord have much to offer: "Even in old age they will be vigorous, still bearing fruit, proclaiming that Adonai is upright." Psalm 92:14 There is much to uncover in this treasure.
Several years ago one of Tents of Mercy's pastoral staff, Alex K had a vision to gather the seniors from the congregation so as to encourage one another and make connections with other seniors in the community. The group never quite jelled - one key ingredient was missing: A leader that could shepherd the group on in their ministry.
Around the same time that Alex was trying to put together a fledgling senior's group, God was speaking to one of our own seniors, Albina M to take on the leadership of these folks. Albina at first balked at the idea because she was not confident she had the spiritual depth to take on such an assignment.
The Shaping of a Leader
Albina discovered the God of Israel back in her native Ukraine. It was just after the collapse of the Soviet Union when Albina met a woman that would change her life and the life of her family forever. Albina's job as an engineer in a large public works department had ended with the dissolution of the state. Seeking to provide for her family she enrolled in an accounting course. A fellow student caught her attention: "She behaved differently, she dressed differently, she drew people to herself and shone with the love of God. I asked her, 'Why are you so different?' She told me, 'I am a believer in Yeshua.'" This same woman was a partner in a fledgling firm started by Ukrainian believers.
Meeting this woman set off a chain reaction of salvation in Albina's family. First her eldest son, Dima came to faith (he landed a job in this woman's firm), then Dima led his younger brother Misha to the Lord and soon after, Albina also came to faith in the Messiah.
This is how Albina describes her salvation experience: "I felt like I was flying, I still feel like I am flying - I am not walking, I am soaring in the Spirit." Albina was already a mature woman when she became a believer, she explains, "I came so late in life, He wants to show me so much, to make up for all that I missed out on. No one loves me like He does, He compensates for all that I did not receive as a child - it is impossible to express all the ways that He loves me."
Albina is not a Jewish believer, but has always had a strong connection to the Jewish people. As a young girl Albina was befriended by a Jewish family and became playmates with their young son. In college in Latvia she had many Jewish girlfriends. She noted a quality about these friends and their families, "They were so hospitable and respectful of others." Even half the workforce at Albina's public works institute was Ukrainian Jews. "When I look back I realize my life has always been closely involved with Jewish people."
The closest connection of course, was Albina's Jewish husband and his family. Albina met her husband to be when she was 18 and quickly became immersed in his family. "They were such wonderful people - very intelligent and caring. They led exemplary lives." Even after Albina and her husband divorced 22 years later and she lost all contact with him, she still remained very close to her in-laws.
After coming to faith, Albina's sons were moved to rediscover their Jewish roots. Eventually they were both led to make Aliyah, returning to their father's ancestral homeland. Three years later Albina followed her sons and like Ruth of old took for her own the solemn pledge, "Your people will be my people and your God will be my God." Ruth 1:16
Albina explains, "The Lord told me that I would cry out for His people. I am often moved by the Spirit to cry tears for Israel. God loves Israel and always will. He will never forget His people. When I speak to Jewish people I have such an assurance to tell them God will never leave them or forsake them. People cannot cancel out what God says."
Taking their Place in the Picture
Over the years Albina's faith has deepened and again the Lord lovingly directed her attention to serve her fellow seniors. "I was praying during our weekly intercession meeting. I saw (in the spirit) many seniors and they looked troubled. The Spirit spoke to me: 'Why do they feel rejected? Why do they feel so insecure? Why do they have such difficulty living in Israel?'"
Albina received a powerful revelation: "God showed me He is making a large picture. He has a place for everyone in this picture. He sees us differently than we see ourselves, He sees us as people of magnificent beauty. I saw that seniors do not see themselves this way and I started to cry. I received understanding from the Spirit that we need to help these people open up the gifts God has placed in them. When the gift is unlocked seniors than take their place in God's picture and shine like a diamond reflecting color. If they do not take their place they hinder others from taking their place too and the picture is not complete."
So equipped with a vision, Albina responded to God's call and took on leadership of Gil HaZahav (The Golden Age). Every week seniors from Tents of Mercy meet together to discover just how important they are in God's big picture. Albina is leading this group to unite them and build up their sense of worth. Through fellowship, activities and praying together she believes our Gil Zahav members can become an example to the young people; proclaimers of God's strength to the next generation.
As the one responsible for oversight of the group, Alex K senses a clear call to support Albina and her fellow seniors. He hopes to see the Gil HaZahav group address all facets of life. Seniors, like the rest of us, don't live in a vacuum. They have needs and interests in many areas: health care, current events, immigration and social services, history and even politics. In all these dimensions of life Yeshua's lordship brings wisdom, counsel and comfort.
For her part, Albina sees that you (our readers) are also an integral part of the magnificent picture God is painting. You too can be involved. Albina would like very much if you would pray for her and the Gil HaZahav group. Though English is not her first (or second) language, she invites you to contact her. Albina's dear friend and in-law, Katya Morrison (Moshe and Katya's daughter Leora is married to Albina's son, Dima) has promised to help her read and answer your letters. You can correspond with Albina at: email@example.com.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article:|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: Dry Bones and Israel's Restoration|
|Leora Mazurovsky: Speaking Boldly|
|Betty Intrater: Aqaba|
|Eddie Santoro: To Us a Child is Born|