On Saturday 24 September, thousands of Russian Jews and Holocaust survivors gathered in the historic amphitheatre at Caesarea, Israel, to hear a message of hope and encouragement by David Hathaway. Worship was provided by world renowned music group Vinesong. This was the first time that such a service has been held in Israel.
Given the volatility of the Middle East, it is so important to share the Good News whilst we still can. David's message to Israel is simple: "You owe your existence to a miracle. Israel was born out of the suffering and desperation of the Holocaust. Your survival as a nation since then is miraculous. Your God is a Deliverer. In Egypt, God saw the suffering of His people and He came down to deliver. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will always deliver Israel, whatever the crisis. Come back to your God. Your hope is in Him, not in your military or your politicians! God loves Israel, He loves you, He sent Messiah to forgive your sin and heal your sickness."
Pastoral care is a vital part of our work in Israel. The local Russian congregations invite the people to attend the celebration, and they continue to minister to them afterwards.
Russian Jews and their families are now one of the largest ethnic groups in Israel with a population estimated at over 1 million; many of them made Aliyah after the collapse of communism in the 1990s. Israel now has the world's third-largest Russian-speaking community (outside the former Soviet Union), after the United States and Germany. They once suffered for being Jewish in the Soviet Union, now they suffer for being Russians in Israel.
'Caesarea was a tremendous success, but probably one of the strongest battles of my life! Thank you who supported me during this battle...
'...We had very strong opposition, more dangerous than ever before, I even needed bodyguards to prevent a personal attack and the event needed police protection at a very high level. Even as we tried to enter the stadium a wind, stronger than they had ever experienced before at this venue, caused the whole stage structure, TV screens and overhead loud speakers to rock and swing so dangerously, that for safety reasons, the people couldn't be allowed in! However, we stood firm on the Word of God, commanding the wind on the Mediterranean to cease, as Jesus did on Galilee!
'God answered and the wind calmed so that we could all enter and the programme went ahead with even more people than we had anticipated. The stadium was packed, so full with 4000 Russian-speaking Jews, Holocaust Survivors and their descendants, that another two thousand, who also wanted to come, could not even register to attend - there was no more room! My message was broadcast for 30 minutes, live on national TV to the whole nation! You must watch it to see how powerful it was!'