Dear friends, we wish you a blessed New Year and send to all of you love and blessing from Jerusalem Machaseh team.
We are thankful that growing support from our leadership and community is bringing hope, but still we have a long way to go.
We continue to send you the testimonies from our latest seminar on domestic violence:
"On November 25th 2018, I had the privilege to participate in the seminar "You Must Not Ignore" in Jerusalem, dealing with a theme that is not popular and still not openly discussed in the body of Christ. I was asked to talk about domestic violence among Russian speaking members in Israeli congregations, and refer to aspects of the influence of Russian culture and spiritual abuse.
10 years have passed since I separated from my believing husband. We had met and got married in the Church, and we were ministers for many years in both Russia and Israel, but I have witnessed degradation, and the destruction of our family without knowing what the problem was.
I tried my best to follow scripture: Be the ideal wife, serve my husband, bear children and strive to be the best mom. Serve in Church and everywhere else. I was working until total exhaustion to provide for the family, tried to carry on with submission under constant abuse, humiliation, screaming, blame, anger, threats, control, demand of money and tending to all the needs of an unemployed husband. As much as I tried to protect the children from corporal punishment in his rage, I couldn't do anything. Even when he took the money they were given for their birthdays... For years I have payed his immense debts, surviving with the children on the little that was left...
I tried to reach out to Pastors, but it made things even worse. The husband was always right.
A moment came when I realized that I'll either go insane or die from heartbreak. But what would become of the children? Today I am grateful to the Lord that in the darkest time of my suffering I've met the servants of Machaseh. It was the most incredible thing that happened in my life when I was told: "We will fast for you". After this it became clear that the minister husband had been abusing drugs for the past 7 years, and me and the children were living in a condition of domestic violence. From this point Machaseh has done all they could to help him and supported me and the children spiritually, emotionally and financially. Unfortunately my husband couldn't overcome his addiction.
After our breakup he took me to court for me allegedly "turning our children to Messianic Judaism". This got authorities involved in our family life. The children were banned from leaving the country for years. Meanwhile a vacuum had formed around me in the congregation. I was labeled as a "feminist", my ministry project was closed, I lost my leadership position and was forced to leave my job in the congregation. When my husband passed away, the congregation turned away from me, and most painfully, from my children. Soon after I was offered a position in a faith based organization, but after a consultation with the leadership I was refused. According to the opinion of one of the leaders: "She was to blame for the death of her husband".
Acknowledgment, forgiveness, healing and restoration took years. Today I realize that throughout the years of my marriage I lived as a slave, under spiritual abuse, and all other types of violence followed. I, an educated professional, working with women who are going through extreme violence, had been blinded and couldn't see my own problem, since the actions of my husband and the ministers used scripture for justification:
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22
"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says." 1 Corinthians 14:34
I've been hearing this teaching constantly in church and from my husband in Russia as well as in Israel. Throughout all these years, I have never heard the passage "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25)
Thank God, after my encounter with Machaseh I have found a ministry that accepts me as I am without judgment. Over the span of 7 years they taught me and served in the healing of every single wound in the ruins of my heart. The process of forgiveness was long and difficult. The hardest and deepest hurting turned to be forgiving my congregation, leaders and believers. Even forgiving my husband turned out to be easier. Spiritual pain is deeper than physical or emotional. Today I'm in a new ministry, and it seems to be a miracle, because those who go through abuse usually leave the church. By the grace of the Lord, my children served in combat units in the IDF, and our family continues the difficult path of healing.
I am thankful with all my heart to the dear pastor who led us on this seminar in the prayer of repentance for the neglect and silence in our community. I release my forgiveness and blessing.
Machaseh, thank you for not ignoring." L. Newton