Beyond Help and Humanitarianism

by | Jun 4, 1999 | Blessing, God's Hands, Helping

HTML clipboard Pastor Nikolai is the “second” pastor of Word of Truth Church in Riga, Latvia. After our festival in Riga in August 1997, we needed a meeting place for the growing Messianic congregation. Pastor Nikolai offered his building to Samuel Cipen, the leader of the Messianic synagogue. At the first meeting following the festival, Pastor Nikolai shared how he came to love the Jewish people. He said it must have come from his mother’s milk. His parents were “righteous Gentiles,” Christians who had hidden the Jews from the Nazis. Helping the Jews, even at their own peril, was his family’s legacy.

A holy hush came upon the group as we listened to Pastor Nikolai assert that the free sharing of the building was simply a reflection of his family’s love and devotion to the Jewish people.

Pastor Nikolai grew up in a conservative Pentecostal family. His mother’s parents lived in the village of Grichinovivichi, in a largely Jewish area, the Gomel region of Belarus. During the time of the Nazi occupation of Belarus, his grandfather, Vasile Korzh, hid about twenty-five Jews on his farm. The only place large enough to hide them was a “swinehouse,” the muddy, filthy shed where the pigs were raised. For two or three weeks, these Jews hid from the Germans. Then Korzh determined that it would not be safe for them any longer. He came up with a plan to evacuate the Jews one by one.

The peril was great. The Jews had to get to the forest in order to escape to real safety. But to get there, they must pass a Nazi outpost. Vasile Korzh devised a simple plan: He would hand-carry each Jewish man, woman, and child, one by one in a heavy burlap sack. Carefully he instructed each of his charges not to move or make a sound. Once a person was safely hidden in the bag, he hoisted the heavy sack, with the neck of the sack tied closed with a rope and hanging over his shoulder.

“Where are you going?” The Nazis would ask.

“To the forest,” he would answer.

“And what is in the sack?” The inquiry would continue.

“Just one of my dead swine. I will take it to the people who live in the forest, and they will bury it so that it will not rot and contaminate my well.”

“Very well – then go on.”

This simple deception worked again and again, and finally Korzh was known as the man with too many dead swine.

Isaiah had prophesied that God would turn His attention with miracles to the Gentiles, and they would “bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers” (Isa. 49:22-23, Ntv).

Perhaps this ancient prophecy was tumbling through the minds of the Jews as one brave soul carried so many of them upon his shoulders in humble sacks.

Once they arrived in the forest, Korzh would take each Jew to an underground hiding place. The partisans had created these subterranean fortresses – out of sight, out of mind. Better that no one else knows, they all thought. And so the ten Jewish families made it out of the village safely, into the forest, and thus into the hands of those who were fighting for their freedom. Each day, Korzh’s wife would carry a basket of food into the forest, there to nourish the Jews who had grown familiar with, though never accustomed to, the daily hunger.

After the final Jew had been taken into the forest, someone reported to the Nazis that Korzh was a traitor and was hiding Jews. Nazi troops came to his farm, dominated the area around the swinehouse, and then fired upon it relentlessly until not an inhabitant was left alive. They thought they were firing upon Jews, but alas, it was only the swine who had perished.

When the soldiers discovered there were no Jews, they were outraged. They tied up Vasile Korzh, binding him in rope, tying his wrists together, then dragging him behind a horse. Horribly he was dragged, with such force that the rope from the horse to his wrists pulled tight and powerfully, snapping Korzh’s wrist, pulling it out of the socket, then finally ripping off his hand. Blood flowed forcefully as the driven horse continued to drag its victim. Finally they stopped, left Korzh for dead, and went on their way.

Yet someone came to help, carried his near – lifeless body into the forest, bringing this simple hero into a hidden Soviet Army hospital camp. His hand forever gone, the medical unit was able to sew up what was left of his arm and stabilize him. Nikolai’s grandmother fled into the forest, and the Nazis burned the farm and the swinehouse to the ground.

The family joined the partisans, and remained in the cover of the forests until the war concluded. Korzh’s brother, a general in the Soviet Army, helped them and the partisans.

“For all this,” Pastor Nikolai says, “my family has received a very big blessing. It is good to bless the Jews,” he says. “Since we began blessing the Messianic congregation, we have been blessed. Our church has grown in a few months from four hundred to almost eight hundred people. And our tithes and offerings have doubled. Every time we give to the Messianic Jews, we receive a greater blessing.”

His testimony makes real God’s promise to bless those who bless Abraham.

David Levine, In That Day, p. 105 – 108.

David Levine is a Messianic Rabbi living in Hungary, where he and his wife, Sandy, have founded Shalom Messianic Congregation of Budapest. The congregation is noted for its work among Holocaust survivors, and between Jews and Gypsies.

The Levines are also the founders of Shalom Network International, a family of Messianic leaders and congregations, and a network of ministries. SNI is active in some 30 cities and more than 8 countries including Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Lithuania, Israel, and Azerbaijan.

Together with SNI’s international team of leaders, they are planting Messianic congregations, raising up shepherds for the House of Israel, and organizing extensive humanitarian aide. Shalom Network International ministries and programs are bringing the good news of Yeshua to Holocaust survivors, drug addicts and alcoholics, homeless, and the mentally ill, along with youth, orphans, widows and families.

Rabbi Levine is also ordained by the IAMCS (International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues), and serves on its executive committee.

He is the author of “In That Day—How Jesus is Revealing Himself to the Jewish People.” His articles have appeared in the IAMCS magazine, “Spirit of Messiah,” Charisma, Kairos magazine, and many other international publications. He is also a frequent keynote speaker at seminars, conferences, and retreats, and has ministered in 14 countries.

He can be reached at or through SNI’s administrative offices in the USA (+ 407-622-1428) (POB 1178, Winter Park, FL 32790).


Beyond Help and Humanitarianism