Ministry Highlight: Timothy Rabinek & Mike Stallard, Eastern European Relief
We’re directing our attention this week to an often forgotten part of the world—Eastern Europe. The Jewish people in this region often suffer hardship and need the love of God in their lives. That’s where our International Ministries team comes in! They provide physical care and spiritual comfort to these people in Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus.
To discuss this arm of our ministry overseas, we check in with Mike Stallard, director of International Ministries for The Friends of Israel, and Timothy Rabinek, our field representative serving in Poland. Timothy has some encouraging details about his ministry in Eastern Europe. He shares the plight of the Jewish people to whom he ministers, the work he does as an ambassador for Christ, his vision for the Jewish community in Eastern Europe, and the ways you can partner with him!
If you’d like to support Timothy and his ministry in Eastern Europe, please Click Here.
To learn more about our Eastern European Relief Fund, please Click Here.
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. We have a great show for you today, but before Chris comes, I want to remind you to visit our website foiradio.org. We now have over six years’ worth of programming on our site for you to listen to. And I'd also like to invite you to browse around and enjoy the content we offer on our main ministry page. There you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East. And while you're there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button to help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. You can get there by going to foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: As Steve was just saying our mission here at the Friends of Israel is to teach biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. And one of the ways that we do that is not just by the radio program, and not just by our online teaching, but also through the hands and feet of our workers that are ministering all around the world to Jewish people. And that's why today we're going to be highlighting one of our ministers that are serving over in Eastern Europe, Timothy Rabinek, he's out of Warsaw, Poland. He's going to be talking about the ministry that he has to the Eastern European Jewish community that is in desperate need right now, and how he's also educating young adults over there to see the value of Israel and the Jewish people from a biblical perspective.
Also joining him will be Mike Stallard, who is the Director of International Ministries here at the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We have an exciting show lined up for you, but also we want to thank our podcast listeners. Be sure to go to Apple, Spotify, Google, TuneIn, Stitcher. Be sure to go to those, listen online. You can listen, it's on demand, whenever you'd like. And while you're there be sure to rate and comment on our program, the Friends of Israel Today. Thank you for listening.
Joining with me today are some dear friends. One friend who normally sits not too far away from me at the Friends of Israel headquarters. He's the Director of International Ministries here at Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Dr. Mike Stallard. And then also Timothy Rabinek, who ministers to the Jewish community in Poland. And so we've got an international meeting, if you will. And so Timothy's with us from Poland. Mike's with us from here near the Friends of Israel headquarters, and we're going to be highlighting the ministry that Timothy has in Poland and Eastern Europe.
And we're going to be looking really at the amazing ministry that he has, how God's been blessing it, and to show you, because this is our ministry highlights episode. This is an episode where we like to look at all the various ministries that the Friends of Israel has. It's such an amazing thing. We like to say the sun never sets on the ministries of the Friends of Israel. So Mike, Tim, great to have you on the program.
Mike Stallard: Thanks for having me.
Timothy Rabinek: Glad to be here.
Chris Katulka: Timothy. I want to start with you. The Eastern European Jewish people, we're going to dive right in here, the Eastern European Jewish people. They've suffered immensely in the 20th century. And I know it's very stereotypical in the American mind to think of Jewish people as business savvy and financially well off. But that's not always the case in Eastern Europe where you minister. Can you share a little bit about the history of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe?
Timothy Rabinek: Sure, Chris. Well, first of all, we need to realize that the history of Jewish people, the Ashkenazi Jews as they are known in Israel, is very long. Some sources even say the first settlements began in the first century of the current era, in the territory north to the Black Sea. Today, it would be Ukraine. But the real beginning of Jewish presence would start from the 7th to 10th century, depending on the territory we are speaking. By the beginning of the 20th century, it is estimated that over 6 million Jews lived in Eastern Europe.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Timothy Rabinek: And the biggest community was actually in Poland where I live now. So it's quite amazing to me. Referring to the stereotype, Chris, that Jews are all rich. Well, if we look at the Jewish history in Eastern Europe, we will see great diversity, first of all. There were Jews that were poor. There were Jews that were rich. There were religious Jewish people. There were secular Jewish people. There were Jewish people that only spoke in Yiddish, some being polyglots. So it was a tremendously diverse population. And it is true that some of them became quite successful, especially in trade, business, but there was a lot of poor communities living very simple lives and at times facing severe persecution.
The culmination of the raising anti-Semitism was of course the Holocaust, which destroyed almost the entire Jewish community in Eastern Europe, and where the Nazi Germany stopped, the communist Soviet Union continued. This time, not by gas chambers, but by oppression and forced rejection of the Jewish identity. And of course today, the Jewish community is facing many hardships in Eastern Europe, poverty and anti-Semitism are the two big ones really.
Chris Katulka: And I also want you to mention really quickly too. So where we are today with the Jewish community is that they're dealing with poverty in Eastern Europe. They're dealing with poverty, they're living after what the Nazis did in the mid 20th century, into the Soviet Union. What's the spiritual condition of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe, Timothy?
Timothy Rabinek: Well, again, it's diverse. You can't put it into one thing, but the two main things that you can observe is very religious people, through the very Orthodox Hasidic community that is being developed there now. And the second one, the second group are the secular Jews that experienced Communism and had to reject all their faith and traditions.
Chris Katulka: Mike, I want to know, you've been working alongside Timothy. Timothy's been ministering in Poland for quite some time. Now he has a family history of ministering with Friends of Israel, growing up in Poland and Eastern Europe. And Mike, I know that you stepped in a position of leadership to see Timothy growing and expanding his ministry. I'm interested to know, Mike, how is the Friends of Israel reaching out to this forgotten Jewish community?
Mike Stallard: Well, to watch what we're doing in Eastern Europe is one of the most exciting things in the ministry of the Friends of Israel, from my perspective. And one of the striking things is the development of relationships with Jewish communities that goes back decades. So we are living now and our workers are living now and working on ministering now in light of strong bridges that have been built with the Jewish community. For example, our summer camps where we bring children from Belarus and Ukraine to Poland and minister to the Jewish children in the camps. We have the relief fund, that we're talking about, that where we can do clothes and medicine and foods, and it provides open doors for the gospel message about Jesus, the Messiah.
And out of that context of that relationship, we prove that there are Christians who love Jewish people, and Jesus is not a bad name. And so I think I've watched that and it just is an exciting thing to see. We're reaching out through relationships that allow us to share the truth about Jesus.
Chris Katulka: Timothy, Mike called this the Eastern European relief, and it's not only bringing physical comfort to the Jewish people in the area of your world, as Mike was talking about, food, clothing, medicine, but it's also bringing spiritual comfort as you serve as an ambassador for the Messiah Jesus in Eastern Europe. Can you share with us a story of how the ministry has had an impact in the area of Eastern Europe?
Timothy Rabinek: Sure, Chris. Well, there are many wonderful stories I could share with you, and it is a real privilege for me personally to see God's glory at work. For me personally, the most amazing stories are those where I understand that God is the architect of what we do. The story I want to share with you today actually happened not so long ago. For example, recently, when we traveled to Belarus, we met a lady by the name of Susanna. We did not plan to actually meet that lady, and we didn't meet with her before. She heard in the synagogue that there are people from Poland visiting Jewish homes. She was eager to meet with us, and so she called the local pastor and insisted that we visit her home. We work with the local pastor in Grodno.
Timothy Rabinek: So we were a little bit surprised of the whole situation, but we went anyways. Later that day, we learned at the meeting with her that her granddaughter went to one of the summer camps we organized in Poland for Jewish children, that Mike was mentioning. It was a surprise for us to learn that her granddaughter started to attend a local Sunday school at one of the churches after the camps, when she returned home. And thanks to this connection, we learned that the whole family became believers.
Chris Katulka: Amazing.
Timothy Rabinek: So this is really amazing. This is just one example of God's sovereignty and the fact that we are just tools in his hands.
Chris Katulka: I want to encourage our listeners to visit foiradio.org because there we're going to connect you with a way that you can partner with Timothy in Poland to really help bring the relief, the physical relief and the spiritual relief, the spiritual comfort that that only Jesus can bring, to the European Jewish community, the Eastern European Jewish community. To help really bring, to meet the physical needs by supplying food and medication and assisting those big medical bills that a lot of them have to pay, because, remember, some of them are Holocaust survivors, they're older, they need help. They need funds. And so Timothy and his team go and they help. They provide food, clothing, medicine, out of the goodness of the hearts of people who give to the Eastern European relief. And he's able to enter into these lives that need help and through that is able to share of the glorious salvation, the glorious forgiveness, and redemption that can only be found in Jesus, the Messiah.
So I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org. And when we come back, here's the thing, Timothy's doing such an amazing job in Poland. Not only is he ministering to those people who are in need, he's also teaching and educating the next generation of Eastern Europeans about the importance of Israel and the Jewish people. So when we come back, you're going to hear about the Living Bridges program. Something you're not going to want to miss. So stick around.
Steve Conover: Chris, we've been listening to Timothy talk about the history of the Eastern European Jewish community and how devastating the Holocaust and how the Soviet Union were devastating to them during the 20th century. It's really hard to imagine how this once thriving Jewish community was left in shambles, but the Friends of Israel, we've had a long history with helping the beleaguered Jewish community in Eastern Europe.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. And, Steve, when you're talking about the Eastern European Jewish community, I can't help but think of our beloved Zvi Kalisher. For our listeners, we hear Zvi all the time. We air Apples of Gold at the back end of our program, people love Zvi's stories, his testimonies, and we have a book actually that's written about Zvi's testimony, about his history. He grew up in Warsaw, Poland. He was a young Jewish boy who was was really impacted by the Holocaust and by Hitler's Final Solution. And so as Timothy Rabinek was talking about the history of the European Jewish community, I can't help, but think of Zvi Kalisher.
I want to encourage our listeners to get Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust by our previous executive director, Dr. Elwood McQuaid. Dr. McQuaid does a fantastic job of telling you the story of how Zvi left the Holocaust. He escaped the Holocaust and made his way over to Israel to find actually the freedom and the Lord Jesus Christ as he was over there. Zvi became one of our very first ministers for the Friends of Israel in the land of Israel. It's an amazing story of Zvi's triumph over the Holocaust.
Steve Conover: Yeah. You can purchase a copy of Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust by visiting foiradio.org, that's foiradio.org. There you'll find a link on our homepage and it will direct you to the book, or you can call our listener line, and that's (888) 343-6940. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. And someone will return your call during our regular business hours. To order in Canada call (888) 664-2584. Again, in Canada, that's (888) 664-2584.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everybody. In the last segment, we were talking about providing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people in Eastern Europe through our Eastern European relief fund, which I hope that you go to foiradio.org to find out more information about, and we introduced you to Timothy Rabinek who's in Warsaw, Poland, which prior to Hitler and his Final Solution, Warsaw was the largest, I believe, Timothy, the largest Jewish city with the largest Jewish population in it. Is that right?
Timothy Rabinek: Certainly one of the biggest, yeah.
Chris Katulka: Definitely a very influential city with a influential Jewish community prior to Hitler's Final Solution, the Holocaust. And Timothy, you were mentioning about how those who are suffering, they could be Holocaust survivors, they are victims of anti-Semitism, which is the hatred of Jewish people. And yet that same anti-Semitism that existed in the 20th century still remains today in Europe, and it's actually on the rise. And Timothy, this is what I love about your ministry, is that you're working to combat that anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe by raising awareness about Israel and the Jewish people to young adults through your Living Bridges Ministry. Timothy, can you share about the Living Bridges ministry that you have?
Timothy Rabinek: Sure. Chris, it's a pleasure. In that ministry we call the Living Bridges, we really want to focus on the next generation of youth, as you said. And as the name suggests, we want to build a symbolic living bridge between the Christians of Eastern Europe and Jewish people. How do we do it? This is the big question. First step, in my opinion, is education, both historical and biblical. Those things are very important. We can't forget what has happened here in Eastern Europe. The Holocaust is part of our history, and in an age where memory of this brutal crime is being forgotten or even denied, we must teach the truth. Over the years, we have organized seminars for youth from Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, Belarus, Russia, and of course, Israel. Together we visited the concentration camps, the death camps, studied the history, and held discussion panels where many stereotypes were broken.
For me, the most valuable part of this program is always the informal interaction of the members of the program, the friendships that develop between believers and unbelievers, where we can share why we love the Jewish people. If we talk about education, of course, the most important education is the biblical education. And so we try to do it by reaching churches and individual Christians, teaching the literal, historical, and grammatical interpretation of the Bible. And, Chris, we don't need to make a special exercise to teach about Israel to make people realize the importance of Israel. All we need to do is really teach the Bible as it is written.
Chris Katulka: That's right.
Timothy Rabinek: Of course, during COVID-19 era, we can't organize big events and conferences. However, we use the technology that we have. Each month now we organize online meetings for believers where we teach the Bible. Thanks to the connections we have developed with Israel every time we have a speaker from Israel who is a believer. The conferences are free. We don't need to pay the speaker from Israel to come to Poland. So in a way, it has become a tradition now, and I believe we will continue those online meetings after, if God allows, of course, the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Chris Katulka: So Timothy, I just want to say what you do is you organize groups with Living Bridges to show you the young adults in Eastern Europe what happened, you're right there near the death camps, the concentration camps, you do tours there, but then at the same time you bring these young adults over to Israel as well to show them the land of Israel. Is that right?
Timothy Rabinek: That's correct, Chris. Yep.
Chris Katulka: Well, I'm interested to know what's the response? You and I were writing back and forth a little bit, and you say that a person that travels to Israel is a changed person. Sometimes I would have people on my trips that did not like Israel so much, but wanted to see the places anyway, because of the biblical importance. You write, "In so many ways, they return to Poland becoming true fanatics for Israel and sharing in churches how wonderful this country is." Timothy, what changes the mind of that young adult when they step foot in Israel?
Timothy Rabinek: Well, yeah, it's a little bit of a funny situation sometimes that people that are very skeptic of Israel after the trip, they become so more loving of Israel than I even sometimes. So it's amazing. And I really haven't analyzed it so much, but I think it's usually the whole package, the whole experience of being in the land so loved by God. It's the personal friendships with Israelis and their nature to always help. It's the food, of course, the diverse countryside, from snow on Mount Herman to the Dead Sea in the desert. And I will tell you a secret, people from Eastern Europe feel a little bit like home in Israel. Why do I say that? I say that because so much culture from Eastern Europe has been imported by the Jewish settlers to Israel, that you can always find something that you know. If you know Russian, you can speak in Israel in Russian. You can find Russian food, you can find Russian restaurants, no problem.
Chris Katulka: That's amazing.
Timothy Rabinek: So it's the whole package.
Chris Katulka: That's great. Mike, we've traveled to Israel, you and I, like Timothy, and I'll be honest. I firmly believe that once a Christian steps foot in the land, they become what's called a Christian Zionist by osmosis. Christian Zionist is a Christian that believes that God has given the Jewish people the right to exist in their ancient homeland. And I believe the reason that they become Christian Zionists is because they are literally seeing and touching the faithfulness of God. And they can see God's faith at work right in front, or God's reality right in front of them when they step foot in the land.
I'm interested to know from you, how important is it for young adults, whether they're in Poland, or the United States, or anywhere from around the world, to walk in Israel, to experience Israel firsthand?
Mike Stallard: Well, I think that's a great question. And I would start with it helps with Bible interpretation.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Mike Stallard: Young people, as they look at their Bible, it turns from black and white to color, for one, and they're actually living and in the place where the gospels took place, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And so it all begins to make a little more sense. So it helps them in interpretation. But I also think that it helps them to get excited and also understand it's realistic about the prophecies being fulfilled. You're in Israel. Israel predicted it was going to come back one day, and you're standing at the Mount of Olives and you're looking down on the old city of Jerusalem, and you can visualize how the prophecies will be fulfilled. And I think that creates some excitement. And I do think when young people come back, or even older folks like me come back, after the first time, there's a measure of spiritual growth that can happen, because they have had this experience.
But I think another critical part of that is it helps change any false narrative they've had about Israel, once you go. At least it helps begin that process. There's the narrative that Israel is the bully and Israel mistreats the Arabs, et cetera, and I think they get over there and they find out that's not really the case and their mind begins to change. And they have an openness, a crack in their heart, so to speak, to love Israel and to love the Jewish people. So I think that's an important thing.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. It's interesting that you say that, Mike, because I'm thinking of Timothy in Eastern Europe, where there is a rise of anti-Semitism, especially on college campuses, going over and experiencing the land, seeing both the biblical perspective and the reality in Israel, the actual political reality, and experiencing that. So their minds change, their minds change. And Timothy is doing a great work of changing people's minds about Israel and the Jewish people from a biblical perspective. Timothy is doing the Living Bridges program and also ministering to people in Eastern Europe through our Eastern European relief fund.
Now listen, to our listeners, go to foiradio.org. There you're going to find out more information about the Eastern European relief fund, where we actually provide physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people that are in need in Eastern Europe, and through that able to minister to them, to share the good news of Jesus, the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach. And then also you'll be able to find out more about the Living Bridges Ministry that Timothy has. So again, that's FOI radio.org.
Chris Katulka: Mike, Timothy, thank you so much for joining us on the program today.
Mike Stallard: Thank you.
Timothy Rabinek: Thank you, Chris. It was a pleasure. God bless you.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. It was great to have both Mike and Timothy with us. Chris, what can we expect next week?
Chris Katulka: Steve, we're starting a four week series on various different ethnic backgrounds of the Jewish people. You know the Jewish people are not this monolithic group from America, Canada, all the way over to the Middle East, and in Europe, as we've been talking about Jews from Europe today as well. They all have a ethnic background that's very fascinating. It defines the type of culture that they come from. So we're going to be spending the next four weeks looking at the different Jewish backgrounds, how that defines who they are, and how that encourages them to worship God, or maybe even be secular. We're going to find out how all of those play as a factor in that as we look at the four different backgrounds of the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: It's going to be a great series. Join us next week. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong, and I'm Steve Conover, Executive Producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org.
Zvi: The Miraculous Story Of Triumph Over the Holocaust
By Elwood McQuaid
The Friends of Israel’s best-selling book Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust tells an incredible story of inspiration. Separated from his parents and forced to face the trials of Hitler’s Nazi regime, Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher triumphed against all odds and found his way to Israel and faith in the Messiah.
His life was filled with incredible moments of courage and faithfulness. It will touch your life, as you’ll find it difficult to put down!
IN CANADA? ORDER HERE!
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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