There are around 600,000 Jews in Russia today scattered across nine time zones. Russian Jewry is the third largest Diaspora community, after the United States and France.
After 75 years of Communism, Russia was left with a spiritual void and great social upheaval. Children are the most vulnerable and struggle to survive in a rapidly changing world. Their health, education and spiritual needs suffer due to the breakdown of many safety nets in society and in their families. A Christian school in St Petersburg tries to help by offering an excellent education as well as a Christian witness to its pupils and their families. It also offers English language courses. Messianic Testimony worker, Roísín, is involved with this outreach to Russians and Jews alike.
‘Recently I was able to give a Russian English New Testament to one of the beginners in my class. She was delighted and said: “all educated people should read the Bible”.
I often visit Jewish people in their homes. They have interesting but sad stories to tell about how they survived Stalin’s regime and maintained a strong Jewish identity in spite of persecution. There is openness among them to listen to the gospel. I am often asked, “Why do you help us?” What an opening to share the gospel! One of my answers is “Everything that is precious to me has come to me through the Jewish people: the Word of God and my Saviour the Lord Jesus”.
Another aspect of the work is the distribution of Hebrew Russian Scriptures at the St Petersburg Book Fair. Recently we met young Russians and Jews who were interested in both the Tanach (Old Testament) and the New Testament. They said they were looking for “something new” in the Scriptures. Pray that as they search the Bible God’s Word will grip them and they will come to know their Saviour and Messiah.
We provide an address so Jewish people can contact us if they want Scriptures. This leads to a steady stream of letters with requests for the Bible. A man from the Crimea wrote: “I am 23 and my parents died when I was 15. I started drinking and then began to steal. Now I am in prison. Brothers come to the prison from church and I have been attending their meetings. I repented and want to go God’s way. A teacher gave me the ‘Messiah of Israel’ booklet to read. In it I read that you provide free Scriptures for Jewish people. I am a Jewish. Please send this literature to me.”
Roísín has been working amongst the Jewish people in St Petersburg for a number of years. The Messianic Testimony supports her in this ministry.
Written by Roísín McElroy and Elizabeth Oxbury, Messianic Testimony