While conflict in Israel since 2000 has slowed down aliyah, the increasing number of Jews Ebenezer has been helping to leave Uzbekistan is encouraging. ‘It’s a real confirmation that what we are doing is not our work, but that God himself is opening the hearts and minds of His people to glorify His holy name,’ said Zhanna, who with her husband, Yuri, has been leading field operations in Uzbekistan.
Most Jewish people remaining in Uzbekistan live mainly in Tashkent, the capital, and two other major cities – Samarkand and Bukhara. Ebenezer has been working in the most populated Central Asia republic since 1996. This work is not as straightforward as it is in places like Kazakhstan, one reason being the lack of churches in some parts of the country. It is especially difficult when teams try to communicate with Uzbek speakers who know little or no Russian. But obstacles are being overcome.
In Termez, on Uzbekistan’s northern border with Afghanistan, a family were in dire straits – no home of their own, a husband in poor health earning only a meagre wage, bills unpaid for five years and crippling debt. Ebenezer paid off what they owed, allowing the overjoyed family to move to Israel. ‘I didn’t realise that such Christians as you exist, who love and care for us,’ one of those we helped in Tashkent told an Ebenezer worker.
Since 1999 Ebenezer has been quietly encouraging Turkmenistan’s Jews to leave for Israel and has been rewarded by being able to help a number of families to do so. The politics of this largely desert land have been described as resembling those of the USSR before Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms of 1985 – 1991(glasnost). Pressure on the Church is enormous, hence the need for Ebenezer to work discreetly through the Jewish Agency in Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan is the most dangerous of the Central Asia republics. Over 50,000 people lost their lives in the civil war of the 1990s and hundreds of thousands were made homeless. Today the situation remains volatile. Poverty and hardship are common. Ebenezer began work there in 1999 and the key is strengthening relationships with the Jewish community in Dushanbe, the capital, and other families elsewhere.
The work of our bases in the former Soviet Union
Helping Jewish people gather their documents, which provide proof of their Jewish roots.
I believe Ebenezer’s work in the former Soviet Union is vital. It gives practical help and encouragement to Jewish people as well as vision to local churches. It is important in these days to raise the banner of God’s dealings with Israel and the Church. Evangelical churches in the fSU have generally been pro–Israel, but now we are experiencing a new openness. More and more pastors and churches want to know, take trips to Israel and hold seminars and conferences. I think this will bring much fruit in the days ahead. Grigory Komendant, chairman of Ebenezer’s Advisory Board in the former Soviet Union.
Intro, The Russian Federation, Siberia > > Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg > > Moscow, Pyatigorsk > > Rostov–on–Don, Ukraine > > Moldova, Armenia, Georgia > > Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan > > Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, The work of our bases in the former Soviet Union > >