Aya and Vasily were already married with a just-turned teenage daughter when they arrived in Israel 19 years ago. Back in Latvia, Aya worked in the fashion business and Vasily, who was a military aviation engineer by trade, ran his own advertising company. But making aliyah has a way of making everyone start again at ground level, so she would spend their early years in Israel learning Hebrew and paying the bills by cleaning houses. Those early years were challenging for more than one reason, but time after time they witnessed the guiding hand of the Lord in their lives.

Their dreams for the future included owning their own business, and longing for another child. But with their only child now just short of 20 years old, some dreams weren’t realistic. Unless, that is, God is your God and He can do whatever He wants—which in this case was to give them a son who would be born 5 years to the day after they set foot in the land of promise.

It would take more than a decade of studying Hebrew and working odd jobs, but when Vasily landed a job in a hi-tech glue factory, Aya would get up the courage to take the leap into opening a clothing store. One store led to two and things were going well. “We started in Israel with nothing, so we took out a loan to open the business and were paying it off as planned. There was even enough left over to cover our son’s music and English lessons,” Aya shared. Aya heard about Maoz’ Music Making for Kids program through a friend, but didn’t think to apply at the time. “We had enough money for the lessons and I didn’t want our son to take the place of another child who really needed it,” she explained.

For Aya, running a clothing store was never just a business; it was her ministry. “I make it a point to share about Yeshua with the customers who come into my shop. I also have a section in my store for books about the Lord that they can take home to read and then come and trade out for another one.”

In late 2019, Aya would be faced with a difficult decision. One of her stores was located in a mall and was struggling because a nearby store was selling almost identical clothing. At the time, the decision to close was a painful one. In hindsight however, closing that shop would help save the other one. Because a few months later, when COVID hit, malls were closed much longer than regular shops. Holding on to two stores during this time could’ve collapsed the entire business.

Still, Aya’s business was hit hard when the lockdowns paralyzed the marketplace. She had just received her spring collection and written checks for tens of thousands of dollars with the understanding she would make a profit by the time the bills came due. She never got the chance to sell any of it.

By the time shops were allowed to open again, the season had changed and no one was interested in spring clothes. Determined to save her business, Aya and Vasily took out a loan to cover the payments due. They sold what they could at a loss—but mostly gave the clothes away to anyone who would take them.

The markets eventually opened up again and Aya ordered new stock, but the backed-up bills were suffocating. I Stand With Israel approved closing out her debts so she could run her business (and ministry) from a place of strength and continue her son’s music and English education. “My son is developing beautifully in his music and has now qualified for a specialized English program. As for me, the next step in my business will be to expand the space in my store dedicated to books I give out about my God of miracles!”