Posted by: Bonnie | September 17, 2007



Forget the scary hair and concentrate on the joyful faces!

This photo was taken in St. Petersburg, Russia, in April 1996. This was our first, fact-finding trip to the former Soviet Union at the invitation of Jonathan Bernis. We were invited to oversee a Bible school for young Messianic Jewish believers, but we did know where it would be and how it would all come together. Our hearts soared with joy and expectation as we took our first steps into a new world and a new life. 

Seven months later, we sold, stored, and/or packed all our worldly belongings and relocated in Odessa, Ukraine, the birthplace of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute.

Welcome to the new Messianic Jewish Bible Institute’s Photo Journal!

The flames of Communism burned across the former Soviet Union for decades. In the late 1990s those flames went underground leaving the land and the people scorched and thirsty. They desired Living Water–something they could drink and never thirst again.

Gospel teams rushed on the scene, and unprecedented revival broke out. Hear O Israel under the direction of Jonathan Bernis began to hold large Jewish cultural festivals of song and dance in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Minsk, and Kiev. At the end of each festival, Jonathan presented a clear message of salvation in the Messiah.

Thousands of Jewish people attended these services and hundreds of them responded to the Good News. A desperate need for training arose. The Messianic Jewish Bible Institute was birthed in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1996 as a cooperative effort of several ministries. Since then schools started in Hungary, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, and Israel with affiliate schools in Korea and Kazakhstan.

My husband, Wayne, serves as the International Director of the MJBI. Although we helped pioneer the first school with Valentin and Tatyana Sviontek in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1996, we have lived in both Hungry and Cyprus as well. Currently, we are in the states tending to the administration needs of the ministry; but our hearts remain on foreign soil. Soil that is really not so foreign to us–all the places we call home abroad and with all the wonderful friends that have become like family.

The purpose of this journal is to present a few photos each week with a brief explanation. It may be of something current that is happening at an MJBI or related Messianic Jewish ministry. Or it may be something from our pictorial  archives.

Although I have dedicated my life to writing, I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes the best stories still need photographs.

We are tickled to receive your comments about the Messianic Jewish story that is unfolding around the world and expressed in our small way through photos.

This YouTube video below was complied in 2005 for the annual MJBI banquet. It is a good overview of who we are and some we are linked with.

It’s a joy and privilege to share this journey with you!



  1. Dear Bonnie and Wayne,

    It is breathtaking to me every time I remember so well your pioneering days, and how God has blessed your determination, struggles and sacrifices during that time because of your heart for the “Apple of His Eye”. And now He has brought you to this day to witness so many Jewish people over a multitude of countries who are being brought to a new hope in their Messiah, and to salvation.

    I wept again through the video, just as I did the first time we saw it at the 2005 MJBI Banquet, and heard the beautiful and inspiring “For Zion’s Sake” sung and played by Marty Getz.

    It is truly a time for celebration!

    With Love,
    Mom Wilks

  2. Mom,

    Thanks for the kind words and encouragement along the way.

    I weep every time I see that DVD as well.

    And thanks for leaving a comment. I always love to hear from you.

  3. Well done you faithful servants of the Lord!! It’s hard to believe but I can remember each of you before you became one….you are such a testimony of what God will do with a willing and yielded heart.
    Much love and prayers,
    Linda Anderson

  4. Linda,

    We will always be so grateful to you and Guy for your support through the years. Your prayers and sacrifices mean so much to us.

    Thank you,

  5. Looking forward to viewing the MJBI photo collection, and we’ll see you at this year’s banquet!

  6. Tara,

    We always enjoying seeing you and NOrris every year and wish we had more time to just sit and visit. But you know how it is…

    Thanks for all your love and support through the years.


  7. Dear Bonnie

    I love your website and blog. You are doing such a good job. Thank God for faithful people in such a chaotic world we live in.

    Love Jeanene Stein

  8. Thank you Jeanene.

    You certainly have been an inspiration to me!

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

    Bless you,

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