Gospel News â Sep-Dec 2012
We met several other interesting contacts. For every person baptized, there are always many others we don't write about who remain on the edge of that great decision for Christ and His Kingdom. Shimeon is one of them. Please pray for him. Like many Eastern European Jews, he has had a remarkable life. His father was Jewish and his mother Russian; he was the second of five children. They lived in a village in Western Ukraine. When the second world war broke out, his father joined the Ukrainian division of the German army, thinking this would preserve his children from persecution and death. Shimeon explained how the Germans came to each village in their district, rounded up the Jews, and shot them. The neighbours told the German soldiers about their Jewish father, and so they came into the home and took the children away, leaving the hysterical mother behind. On the way to the village square where the Jews were to be gathered before being taken away to death, Shimeon's older sister offered her body to the soldiers and started making a distraction by shouting and stripping. "I'm doing this for you, run, Shimeon, run" were her last words to him. Shimeon broke rank during the disturbance and managed to run away. He walked to his grandmother's village and hid there. He never saw his siblings again.
His father survived the war and returned home in 1945. He became an alcoholic, and Shimeon's mother separated from him and went to live in Uzbekistan, which was then part of the USSR. Shimeon says that although "Jew" was stamped in his Soviet ID papers, he never suffered serious discrimination. But he felt something was seriously missing in his life, and he feared it was "Jesus Christ". He emigrated to Israel as soon as restrictions on emigration from the USSR were lifted, but he didn't find the synagogues to give him the answers he was searching for. He then encountered us on the Internet, studied Bible Basics, and feels the need to be baptized. But... something holds him back. We do not know the hearts of men, but in advanced years and poor health, he says he strongly realizes he needs to become "in Christ". It's futile to speculate his reasons for delay, all we can do is pray for him and many others like him, who have surely been led to the Truth of Christ but still need to commit themselves.
We're pleased to report the baptism of YURI at the Riga Bible Center. He had had positive conversations with brothers Guy and John from New Zealand when they were over earlier in the Summer, and has maintained serious interest and completed studying Bible Basics. Yuri has become fully involved with our life at the Riga Bible Center, here he is [center] as "glav sovetnik" and adjuticator at the chess games which are taken with such deadly earnest after and before the meetings:
And the man on the right, who's not yet baptized, asked to come and be present at Yuri's baptism- so you see how chess and coffee lead to relationships deepening and becoming focused around the things central to our faith and hope:
Straight after the baptism, some swans mounted up and flew off in freedom, which brother Yuri was deeply touched by; he then gave a very powerful testimony to the Truth of Christ at Bible class: