Staff and Volunteers

Staff

Just as in the desert many streams gather and flow into the low places to form one mighty river, even so, Afikim BaNegev gathers people from a diversity of places and experiences, pooling their resources and talents toward a unified work. We are so grateful for the incredibly dedicated group of people who wholeheartedly embrace this challenging work with children, youth, and single mothers. This organization could not exist without them. Below you can get acquainted with the members or our staff and with some of the dedicated volunteers, who keep coming back time and time again to help out with this ministry.
  Marianna Gol

Marianna Gol, Founder, Director mariannagol@streamsinthedesert.com

Marianna Gol serves as administrator and director of Afikim BaNegev. She oversees all aspects of its practical operation, fund raising, and management. Marianna also finds time to work one-on-one with most of the women, participates in many of the activities for the youth and children, and cooks fabulous gourmet meals for our staff gatherings. Marianna grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she became a believer in Yeshua in 1991. In 1992, the Lord called Marianna to full-time ministry, and she began to serve the Lord with different groups and organizations. In 1997, she made aliya and moved to Netanya, Israel. Marianna has been involved with a variety of reconciliation, ecumenical and social initiatives. According to Marianna, “In 2004, while I was living in Netanya, the Lord shared with me His heart for the widows and orphans. For one year I held this burden in prayer. That year the Lord began to bring single mothers and widows into my life– into the home group or to the women’s ministry that I led. I was faced at times with their overwhelming needs and with their amazing victories, but more than anything else, with God’s burning passion for the widow and the orphan in The Land. In 2005, I started a Single Parent Family fund in the congregation in Netanya.“ Marianna’s years of working with women in Netanya was the preparation for her work with Afikim BaNegev. After moving to the Beer Sheva area in 2007, the Lord opened doors for her to head up a nascent outreach to single mother families from the various Beer Sheva congregations. Since then, the number of families served by the ministry has increased and includes some referred by the social services of the city of Beer Sheva. The range of activities has expanded, and, to facilitate this, the staff has grown as well to include both part-time, paid staff members and a growing cohort of dedicated volunteers. Marianna’s call to children’s ministry caught her feeling unequipped for the task, but obviously the Lord saw otherwise. She illustrates this with the story of David being sent to battle with Goliath with heavy military equipment that did not fit and with which he had no experience. He cast it aside and replaced it with his own simple and humble slingshot, along with five smooth stones. She says, “I was called to kids’ ministry precisely because it didn’t fit. I had no chance to succeed in this in the natural. The weapons that fit me are praise, obedience, prayer, patience, suffering in intercession, and joy. Our own weapons often look small and are deemed without value in the eyes of many, but they are very meaningful in the plan of God. “We are engaged in a battle for these children, but I know they will stand, and that the Lord will build from them an exceedingly great army. I once had a vision of a tent in the desert filled with all kinds of weapons, and I saw the kids each coming inside to choose their weapons. The tent is the tabernacle in the wilderness, the abiding presence of the Lord. The work of Afikim BaNegev is bringing these kids into encounters with the Lord and helping to prepare them to wield spiritual weapons and to do battle for their generation.”

Oxana joined our part-time staff in 2019. She came to Streams in the Desert as a volunteer in 2013, and fulfilled many vital roles in the organization before joining the staff. She began her work with our single moms in groups and individually, providing counseling and mentoring, and teaching parenting skills. She also met with the children one-on-one. She served as a camp counselor for several years, and then as educational director for our camp.

As a staff member, in addition to continuing in all her former roles, she has developed and administrates our program for the younger underprivileged children (mostly from the single parent families) to provide English lessons, arts and crafts, and Bible training. She also brings us her excellent organizational and office administration skills. Oxana oversees all of our programs and coordinates our volunteers.

 

Anna participated in a Streams in the Desert summer youth activity when she was 9 or 10 years old, and has been involved with all facets of the organization since then. Her life was changed forever during her second year of camp, when she says, “I felt God touching me and cleaning me and starting me on a new page.” She has sensed the guidance of the Holy Spirit in her life ever since.

In 2013 Anna had a starring role in the KISI musical that was performed by the children and youth of Streams in the Desert. She also participated in all the of the hikes and camps. Anna has served as a volunteer camp counselor since 2015. She has now joined the part time staff, and works primarily with our mothers and with the youth, and helps with the administrative tasks.

Anna was born in Russia and made aliyah with her family when she was four years old. She grew up in Beer Sheva, and has served in the IDF.

Volunteers

The activities of Afikim BaNegev require the loving help of many volunteers working side by side with our paid staff. Please take the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the people who volunteer with Afikim BaNegev through the following profiles.

My name is Hanoch Lai.  When

I was three months old,

my family moved to Israel from Hong Kong, and we have been here for twenty years.  I have been participating in hikes and camps with Afikim BaNegev since I was young.  Four years ago the leaders asked me to become part of the counselors’ staff for camp, and I have served in this role every year since then. I completed high school, and then went through a program called Lech Lecha that is designed for Israeli believers after high school and before serving in the army. 

I have continued on as a volunteer staff member with that program.  I hope to continue coming to camps and hikes of Afikim BaNegev and serving as a counselor. 

“Every day is a new adventure, and especially the days when I serve with Afikim BaNegev. I have been involved with the organization since its earliest days of operation and it’s been a great joy to watch it expand in scope and influence. I’ve been the arts and crafts director at all the summer camps except for one. I’ll never forget our first camp experience in 2009; it demanded so much energy that I didn’t think I’d survive the two weeks. (Subsequent camp experiences are also wonderfully intense, but at least of a much shorter duration.) In addition to having the fun of working with the kids in their creative pursuits, I also have the privilege of serving as a member of the prayer and ministry team. I come away from each camp experience deeply touched and strengthened in my spirit, and with extraordinarily sweet memories of the faces of kids worshipping God and coming to know their Lord more intimately.

I have been volunteering with Streams in the Desert since the summer of 2017 when I first came to help at camp. Since then I’ve helping with the regular youth club meetings, and also participating in the youth hikes whenever I can.

I served in the IDF, and afterward, I went to New Zealand, where I helped in the Zula Lodge, a place which hosts Israelis for free during their travels there. There we are able to share with them about our faith in Yeshua.

I will be attending the school of worship at Calvary Chapel in California. I play acoustic and electric guitar, and I am part of the worship team at my congregation and have written a few worship songs in Hebrew.

I feel God really wants me to serve in worship in the future, and I want to grow in my God given gifts. Of course I still don’t know what that would look like, but I am continually praying for the Lord’s guidance in my life.

Volunteering with Afikim BaNegev (Streams in the Desert) has been a great experience for me. I love the way the staff comes together to seek God’s direction, and I love it that there is a prayer team constantly lifting us up in prayer. The kids that are served by the ministry are really different than other youth in Israel. Many come from broken homes and have had really difficult life experiences.

I see in them something real and honest. They appear tough on the outside, but deep inside they know Yeshua is true, and when they come to camp they can feel Him and that He wants them to draw close to Him.

Recent immigrants from California, Roy and Carol Burch and their friendly dog Jaffa left behind Roy’s custom concrete business and Carol’s long-time practice as a psychologist to discover new horizons in the Negev. Here, among many other pursuits, Roy gardens, makes soap and pottery, builds ibex-proof fences, dehydrates herbs and vegetables, and makes custom concrete countertops and floors. Carol tutors university students in English, edits academic papers, teaches Bible studies, and more. Their doors are always open to offer hospitality to people from all over the world. They contribute to the work of Afikim BaNegev in many ways both practical and spiritual, from trucking around supplies for camps and hikes, to intercession and prayer ministry for staff and campers.

My name is Keisy Kviatkovsky. I am 17 years old, from Beer Sheva, and a student in 12th grade. I was invited to summer camp by a friend in 2013, and I have been involved with the activities of Afikim BaNegev ever since. After five years of involvement as one of the campers, I am now taking on leadership roles in the organization. I see things from the other side of the picture! I was a counselor at camp this summer, and I am also helping Yuri in his work with the youth, and helping out with the clubs throughout the school year.

I definitely see that I will continue to be part of the work of Afikim baNegev. I have many dreams for the future, but the one that stands above all of them is to allow the Lord to lead me, and to trust Him that He will take me in the direction that is best for me.