Pastor – Israel
Samuel is a Jewish Christian from Ukraine that has been living in Israel since 1994. He has been ministering to the Russian Jewish-Christian population in Israel for a number of years and is serving as the pastor of Light of Life Congregation. Light of Life began in 1997 when a number of smaller house churches banded together to form one congregation.
Testimony of Conversion
Samuil and his wife Ella were both born into secular Jewish families in Kiev, Ukraine. Both of them studied to be engineers and worked in their field while raising two daughters. In 1989, Samuil was given a Bible while preparing lectures on atheism. Later, he was invited to meet some American Jewish believers. He was puzzled: Jesus was for Jews? Samuil became a believer that very evening. Though skeptical at first, Ella saw the changes in Samuil’s life, and began attending meetings with him. In 1991, Ella also believed. In 1994, Samuil and Ella moved to Israel. Throughout the years, they have labored to share the Gospel to the growing numbers of Russian speaking Jewish believers in the land. Now Samuil is the pastor of the assembly “Light of Life.”
History of Light of Life
God, in His sovereignty, is actively involved in the history of mankind, and even more acute is His involvement in the salvation of souls. We are very glad to be witnesses of the spiritual awakening happening in Israel. Resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, God has brought over one million Jews to the Promised Land from various republics of the previous Soviet empire. The rapid growth of Evangelical believers and congregations in the Land is directly related to this migration. Today, in almost every city of our country, there are believers who gather together for worship in growing congregations and home groups. Thirty years ago, it was estimated that there were less than a hundred believers in Jesus. Today, according to unofficial estimates, there are as many as 20,000 believers in 200 congregations. Praise God!
Like many congregations that God has established in our country, our congregation began as a small group – actually the compilation of several home groups that had been meeting in several different cities – Rehovot, Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, and Petach Tikva. In November 1997, the first gathering of these groups happened and the congregation we now know as “Light of Life” came into existence.
The first years were filled with many joyful ‘firsts’ for the congregation: the first outreach service, the first baptisms, the first holiday celebrations, the first children’s studies, etc. God brought more and more people to the meetings, and many were given new life. During these eleven years, there have been more than 200 people who have become believers through the outreach of the congregation. Almost every year now, it has become a tradition to go together as a group to a place on the Jordan River and have baptisms. About eighty baptisms have been done here and at other special services in other places. We have had the privilege of distributing over 2,000 Bibles during these years. God has given us experiences of bold outreach, Bible camps, Shabbat [Sunday] school, and even Seminary studies for some of the leaders.
At this time, there are sixty-five adult members in the congregation and fifteen children. Considering our short history, most of the members are relatively new believers. Therefore, along with outreach, there is much attention given to the spiritual growth of those in the congregation. Developing leaders is also an important emphasis, so that we might start new congregations in other places in Israel as God directs. Please be praying for these things.