Last summer the KJMC had a prayer retreat. A lot of people from different cities and countries around the world visit these prayer retreats. The time of strict quarantine in Ukraine created certain difficulties, of course, but now more and more people come to take part in a retreat on site. We have talked to some of them and asked them to share their stories about how they learned of the Messianic movement, the Kyiv congregation, and prayer retreats in particular.
Dima (Oslo, Norway):
As a child, I attended a messianic congregation in Odessa, but when I turned 17, I started a “free” period in life. Soon after that, I moved to Norway, where I still live. I had decided that I was going to be a humanist - that I would be just a good person, take everything from life, and at the same time I would try not to hurt anyone in the process. And for a while, I even managed to live such a life without God, actually.
And then, in 2013, when Maidan started, I came to Kyiv with a realization that I can’t keep lying to myself and living as if God does not exist. At the time I was depressed: it is when you try to find pleasure in various ways, but nothing works. After that, I visited my parents in Odessa, and my dad (my parents are believers) said to me: “Dima, you know what, find a church in Norway.” I was struggling with this thought for a few months, and in the end, I found a church in Oslo, and I have been attending services since 2014.
Now I will share how I learned about the Kiev Jewish Messianic Congregation. When I was a teenager, we had youth camps. Rabbi Boris Grisenko, Andrey Lugovskiy, and Adrian Zaid visited them. Anyway, I have known about the KJMC since I was a teenager. In 2015 I happened to be in Morocco, Africa. There I had plenty of free time and I consciously started listening to the sermons of rabbi Boris Grisenko.
That is exactly when I understood what good quality content it is, if I may say so. It was what I was missing in Norway. I attend an excellent and wonderful church, but there are a few moments in regards to the local mentality - everything is very tolerant in Norway, etc. But a question comes up: where is this line between what is secular and what is God’s?
In my opinion, the notion of mentorship is very important - personally, I was missing it a lot. At work, I often have to make decisions about business directions for my team and me - and I realize that I lack people in my life, who could direct, advise, correct me, etc. I mean, it’s not like I don’t want it - it’s just not customary in the modern Norwegian culture. Oftentimes I deserved for someone to kick me in the rear end and say something like: “Bruh, this is nonsense…” And the absence of such mentorship led to lost time, destroyed relationships, and different acts that I shouldn’t have done. My first time at a retreat like this was a year and a half ago - in January 2020 before the COVID pandemic started. And during that time I hadn’t had an opportunity to come to Ukraine, but now I am here, at the retreat, and I am just happy - it is pretty dope to be together with you all in the audience, I can shout out to God (I can’t shout out at home), I can dance, and feel like a part of what is happening - everything that is impossible to experience and feel online.
Here I am glad to see people, who open up to God, completely surrender to Him, and allow Him to do what He wants to do. It is something that I need in my life very much.
Tomash (Gdynia, Poland):
I used to be a real antisemite, even when I became a believer and started attending a church. For example, I just could not stand Jewish music. My mom would turn it on sometimes, and as soon as I heard it, I would turn it off. And I remember what our pastor said: “If a person has not repented of antisemitism, he has not repented at all.” And then one day I heard God’s voice: “You will serve My people.” And after that everything changed in my life. Can you imagine, I even started liking Jewish music!
I have been familiar with the Messianic movement for about 12 years - ministers from the Berdychiv congregation visited our church, pastor Vadim Keldysh in particular. Our church was open to the subject of Israel, and the Jewish people. And then the first retreat took place In Gdynia. After that, I was going to Berdychiv to visit Messianic conferences and services. I have been coming to Kyiv to visit such retreats for 10 years now.
A Messianic congregation has been around in Gdynia for three years - we are a daughter congregation of the KJMC. At first, we were gathering at home, celebrating Shabbats and holidays. And now we hold open services. Our congregation is not very big yet, but I believe that it is going to grow!
During the quarantine, I had an opportunity to visit prayer retreats at the KJMC - I attended the previous retreat in May as well as the last summer retreat. By the way, last time, as soon as I went back to Poland, the border was closed - thank God I was able to get home in time.
When I come to a retreat, I just rest here. Our congregation needs the spiritual fire that we receive here, at retreats. Also, it is a wonderful opportunity to experience the presence of God, fellowship with brothers and sisters, meet new people, and learn from them. I am very glad that pastors’ meetings take place. I can ask questions about the things that interest me, they are not only about spiritual matters. I have mentioned that I used to be an antisemite before, and I would like to say that antisemitism exists in Poland today too. Maybe it is not so obvious, but… I remember what one politician from Israel said, that “the Poles absorb antisemitism with their mother’s milk.” And many people in Poland were indignant: “How can he say that?” But honestly, for the most part, it is true.
However, the situation among Christians is a lot better. Many Catholics open up to the subject of Israel and the Jewish people. Evangelical Christians do too, but a bit less.
We fellowship with other pastors and churches in Gdynia, and we do not want for people to consider Messianic believers as those who see themself as the most true, who pull people out of churches or try to make themselves more special. Therefore, we always emphasize that we are a part of the Church and the Body of Messiah. Every month we hold a prayer for Israel, and one church has let us use their building for free. And one Christian school has also allowed us to use their building to hold prayer retreats there, for free as well. Praise God!
Ibragim (Baku, Azerbaijan):
The first time I learned about the Kiev Jewish Messianic Congregation was three or four years ago. There was a conference in Israel, where I met pastor Boris Grysenko. He told us about pastors' prayer retreats, and in 2019 we came to one for the first time. It was a very good time, and I made friends with different guys from the congregation, such as Daniel Shterndok (music band “Derech”), guys from the dance ministry - we still communicate and stay in touch.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic started and there was no possibility of coming to Ukraine. Only this summer I had a chance, and besides, I had other business in Kyiv, so I decided to combine it all and visit this prayer retreat. Praise God that He opens doors for us in ways we can’t even imagine.
This is my first time at an event such as this, and I just enjoy the time of worship, get filled with the Holy Spirit, and receive from Him. The Holy Spirit comforts, fills, and teaches here, and I just don’t make any effort but rest before God. This is such an amazing time!
When I was coming here, I prayed to God and asked: “Lord, may all this time be spent in a way that You want. Not the way I want it but the way You want it. I want to see Your fruit in my life.” So I have big expectations from God at this retreat. By the way, every Friday our church in Baku holds a prayer for Israel. We pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and bless Israel.
Source and photo: ieshua.org