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God Moved in Mighty Ways at Envision 2020!

Our God moved in mighty ways at the ICEJ Envision Pastors & Leaders Conference in January! There was a greater hunger in the hearts of these men and women of God from around the world to receive the Lord's vision for this year of 2020 in the city of the great King, Jerusalem.

For four days, over 80 pastors and leaders from around the world experienced the land and people of Israel. Through targeted seminars, attendees received great biblical teachings from local Messianic and Arab pastors and leaders which touched their hearts deeply. Each afternoon featured a VIP excursion to hear about God’s heart for Israel as well as see and experience His heart for Israel.

The first adventure was to Efrat, a Jewish settlement in the west bank, where resilient and peace-seeking Jewish locals shared their experiences living in an area under continual terror attack. As we stood at the border patrol check point in Efrat, we witnessed many Arabs returning back through the Israeli border patrol to go home after a long day’s work. Hundreds of Arabs with Israeli work permits cross the Israeli border patrol every day from their Arab city into the Israeli city of Efrat to work, because the pay is four times more than what they receive in their own town. These international leaders were able to see first-hand how Israelis and Arabs are peacefully working and interacting with one another on a daily basis.

Wednesday’s excursion to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, provided greater insight into Israel’s innovative, curiosity-driven approach to scientific studies and Nobel prize-winning discoveries. A tour of the home of Chaim Weismann, Israel’s first President and founder of the Institute, provided a deeper perspective into the early days of Israel’s modern history.

The final excursion was to Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where many were deeply impacted by the stories, photos, videos, and information they discovered about the horrific suffering the Jewish people endured during the Holocaust. They saw the enemy try to wipe out the people of Israel, and yet on this trip they witnessed with their own eyes that God’s sovereign hand is over this nation, not only protecting them, but making Israel thrive and shine among the nations for His glory!

God spoke powerfully to many hearts this week: Sylvie from Central Africa shared how God did a miracle in just getting her to Israel for the Envision Conference, and during these days of the conference, God spoke to her more deeply about Israel. Sylvie explained, “God sovereignly chose me to represent Central Africa here in Israel at the Envision Conference. And now that I am here, I am learning so much about Israel. When I get back to my country, I will start mobilizing the top leaders in Central Africa to facilitate a highway between Central Africa and Israel.”

Birgit Kirsch from Germany shared a powerful testimony of how God spoke to her during a time of worship at the Conference. “God gave me a vision during worship of an open heart that is powerfully alive, fresh and strong. On the inside of the heart I saw the golden ark of the covenant, and I felt like God was saying that He himself is dwelling inside our hearts!” Birgit also shared, “One really important thing for me of why God brought me here to this conference is to connect with all of these people from all around the world. I am so thankful for the ICEJ enabling all of us from around the world to come to this event to learn more about Israel.”

Thank you for all of your prayers for this successful conference, and we ask you to continue praying for each pastor and leader who attended the Envision Conference, that they would take what God showed them here in Israel back to their home country.


If you are a pastor or leader, plan now to join us here in Jerusalem for Envision 2021!

Is Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Good for Israel?

Israel’s third election season in the past year started out fairly blasé but was jolted awake in late January when US President Donald Trump invited caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington to unveil his long-awaited plan for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

After teasing us with his “Deal of the Century” for over two years, Trump released it in the midst of a close election campaign. The move certainly felt like election interference, but you did not hear many Israelis complaining. By inviting both Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz to Washington to discuss his “Vision” for peace, it appears Trump sought to give Likud and Blue & White something around which they could coalesce in a unity government after the elections – finally delivering Israel from its prolonged political impasse. Netanyahu’s legal troubles will still be a major obstacle to that end, but the national ballot on March 2 suddenly became all about the Trump peace plan.

Trump’s plan is quite lengthy and complex, and it quickly emerged that Washington and Jerusalem had different understandings on the terms and timing of some of its main provisions, especially regarding “immediate” annexation of settlement areas.

The exact legal nature of the proposal is also still unclear. Normally, the US or another mediator has offered a suggested outline for resolving the core issues, which Israel and the Palestinians are then invited to hammer out in a final agreement through direct negotiations. But this appears to be more an adhesion contract – meaning “take it or leave it”.

For instance, plan architects Jared Kushner and David Friedman quickly chastened Israeli leaders for prematurely seeking to trigger the annexation mechanism, seeming to suggest they consider the deal to be set in stone, with the US team already installed as judges of compliance. Yet on the other hand, when the Palestinians promptly rejected the plan, as expected, Trump’s team urged them to come to the table and negotiate a final peace accord based on the American proposal.

Nevertheless, my initial reaction to the plan is one of cautious receptiveness. This is especially so as the plan continues to demonstrate that President Trump is a great friend of Israel, in line with his earlier landmark decisions on Jerusalem, the Golan, and the legality of the settlements.

The plan contains numerous elements which would be very beneficial to Israel, such as full sovereignty over Jerusalem and full security control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, plus all air space above. There would be no mass return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. No Israeli settlements would be uprooted. It also dramatically reverses the trend of recent decades whereby the international community has slowly eroded away Israel’s rights and positions without requiring any Palestinian concessions. In addition, it truly tests – for the first time in the history of the Mideast peace process – the real intentions of the Palestinian leadership, and appears to penalise them for rejecting peace with Israel.

However, if the Trump plan plays out as currently written, it would require Israel to permanently cede its claim to 70% of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) for a Palestinian state, essentially dividing the Land which is contrary to Scripture. It also holds out the possibility of statehood to a corrupt Palestinian leadership which remains firmly entrenched in its rejection of Israel and continues to squander the hopes and future of the Palestinian people.

Still, the plan has its merits and deserves Israel’s consideration.

Reversing the Trend
Ever since the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991, the international community has been slowly but steadily trying to force Israel back to the pre-1967 lines in order to create a Palestinian state. The Oslo process culminated at Camp David in July 2000 with Ehud Barak’s offer to cede 92% of the West Bank to the Palestinians. After his talks with PLO chief Yasser Arafat collapsed, some of Barak’s peace team continued the talks at Taba in early 2001 and sweetened the offer to 95% of the West Bank. Around the same time, outgoing US President Bill Clinton set forth his suggested parameters for peace which called for negotiations based on the pre-67 lines with minor land swaps so Israel could retain the “consensus” settlement blocs. Eventually, Ehud Olmert upped the Israeli offer to a reported 97% of the West Bank.

Every time, the Palestinians rejected these generous offers and refused to even table a counteroffer, believing all the time that the international community would eventually deliver them 100% of the territory without having to formally end the conflict with Israel. This slow march back to what Abba Eban once described as the “borders of Auschwitz” culminated in UN Security Council resolution 2334, passed in December 2016, which declared that all the West Bank and East Jerusalem were “occupied Palestinian territory.”

But that reckless trend is now reversed, as Trump’s plan would only give the Palestinians up to 70% of the West Bank, and outlying slivers of eastern Jerusalem, for a Palestinian state. So in that sense, it is a welcome turnaround from what Israelis refer to as the “salami process” of the world powers slowly slicing away at their rights and positions.

Still, there are risks in the plan for Israel. It would provide US backing for Israel to immediately annex up to 30% of the West Bank where the majority of Jewish settlements are located, including the entire Jordan Valley. But doing so would lock Israel into a negotiating process that could lead to a Palestinian state. US recognition of Israel’s claims to the annexed areas would be conditioned on a four-year freeze of Israeli construction in some 15 isolated settlements inside the areas designated for a future Palestinian state, and Israel would be required to negotiate with the Palestinians the terms of statehood along the lines of the US plan.

Testing Palestinian Intentions
The Palestinians also would have a long list of limitations, requirements and conditions in order to receive American recognition of their statehood several years down the road. The Palestinian state would have no army, no security control of their borders or air space, and no right to form mutual defence pacts with Iran or other enemies of Israel. They also would have to end incitement against Israel, as well as ‘pay-for-slay’ welfare benefits to families of jailed or dead terrorists.

Perhaps the biggest test of whether the Palestinians truly want peace is the requirement that the Palestinian Authority disarm Hamas. Given that Hamas will never voluntarily lay down their arms, this would require the PA to launch a bitter civil war among the Palestinians to meet the Trump requirements for statehood. That is an enormously high, even unrealistic threshold for the Palestinians to achieve.

There are other problems with the Trump plan. For instance, Trump seems to have limited coattails when it comes to other nations following his lead. Only a handful of nations are ascending to Jerusalem with their embassies like the US, and no one has endorsed his recognition of the Golan as sovereign Israeli territory. I do believe more countries will follow Trump’s lead on these issues if he gets re-elected, but he first needs to win a second term. Otherwise, the plan is dead in the water.

I do not expect the Palestinians to buy into this plan, but rather they will wait out Trump’s fate come the US presidential elections in November. Yet the plan’s architects seem to have anticipated as much, and I believe they already have a tacit understanding with Israeli leaders on how the Palestinians will be made to pay for continuing to reject peace with Israel. Even so, we also can expect a number of world leaders coming to their rescue – starting with the European Union and Russia.

Meanwhile, Israeli leaders will need to utilise the Trump plan to solidify their hold on as much of the disputed territories as possible, even if it never gets fully implemented. Trump’s team appears to have designed the plan to provide for this contingency, and thus we can confidently say it is the most pro-Israel peace plan ever offered since Israel’s capture of these areas in June 1967.

David R. Parsons is an author, attorney, journalist and ordained minister who serves as Vice President & Senior Spokesman of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Zachar's Story - "I have found freedom in Israel."

Every week, Homecare climbs the stairs with a small bag of groceries to visit Zachar and supplement his meager cupboard. Since he is 94 and nearly blind due to a war injury, he carefully handles each item, which is the way he ‘sees’ these days. Afterwards, comes the most important part of the day for him: The cup of tea and a listening ear.

Zachar was born in the Ukraine and, along with many aging Russian immigrants, was part of what used to be called the “Unknown Holocaust”. Only with the fall of the Soviet Union did the stories of horror begin to emerge. Zachar’s story is one such story. 

As a teenager, Zachar was placed in a Ghetto in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, but somehow managed to escape. This was an area where most of the Jews were massacred and buried in mass graves in surrounding forests during 1941 and ‘42. However, he was eventually caught and by the end of 1943 Zachar found himself in a place of hell. The Pechora Concentration camp was set up in a former sanitarium for tuberculosis patients. The camp was packed with adults and children, and many died of starvation every day. Of the approximately 11,000 Jews crowded into the camp, only some 1,200 survived. Amazingly young Zachar was able to escape from this place as well. “I am not thankful for the suffering, but am very thankful to have survived it,” he told Homecare Nurse Corrie. He joined the Red Army along with 1.5 million Jewish soldiers to fight against Germany’s invasion. Zachar received many medals for his courage, including one of the highest orders. 

After the war he did not return to Ukraine, but instead lived near Moscow for the next 50 years, until finally coming to Israel with his beloved wife. Sadly, his wife died after 60 years of marriage and his two children and their families still live outside of Israel. He feels lonely, but he does not regret his Aliyah. “I have found freedom in Israel,” Zachar said. 

At the end of the visit, there is always the same request: "Come again soon, I am waiting for you."

ICEJ Homecare takes the time to care for “the one” in practical and powerful ways with the love of God.

Partner with Homecare today to love "the one"!
 

Strong Start to the New Year 2020 - Haifa Home Update

Remembering the Past and Giving Hope for the Future
At the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, it is our great privilege to not only remember those lost in the Holocaust but to provide daily care for elderly survivors, giving them hope and a future!

With a team of six wonderful long-term volunteers along with intermittent short-term volunteers, our residents are in great hands. These faithful volunteers continually provide love, care, and specific skills which benefit the health and well-being of the residents. They also provide small repairs making the survivors homes even more accessible and safe to live in. And last, but definitely not least, there are always moments in the daily routine to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee along with lovely conversations that fill the hearts of both the survivors and the volunteers.

International Holocaust Memorial Day

Thousands of Holocaust Survivors, their families, soldiers, police and Maccabi Haifa soccer team amongst many others, crowded the small street in front of the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. Over 500 people, including dignitaries from the Haifa municipality, Rabbis, MKs, and Ambassadors of multiple nations came from all over the country to attend the ceremony.

ICEJ’s VP & Senior Int. Spokesman David Parsons, touched the hearts of many with his words:
“As I stand here today, I can assure you there are millions of Christians around the world who remember the horrors of the Holocaust. They also remember with deep regret the long, tragic legacy of Christian antisemitism. And we say to both: ‘Never again!’”

Many words have been spoken at different ceremonies in Israel and around the world this year, remembering the Holocaust exactly 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. However, nothing speaks louder to Israel than our daily care and love for those who have survived and are still among us!

Living Life to the Fullest
With thousands of supporters, our residents at the Haifa Home had the opportunity to kick off a very important soccer game and basketball game. Thousands of fans attended each game, and both were aired live on national TV. Afterwards, the survivors were invited to watch part of the game in the VIP section of the stadium.

The survivors thrive on attention, honor and respect, especially after a life of suffering and hard work to build up this nation. Opportunities like these motivate them to get up every morning and have a purpose in this life. Many of the residents are in their 90’s and still going strong, and we believe it is because of the love, support, and honour they have been shown in these latter years of their lives.

Music - Balm for the Soul
The residents at the Haifa Home enjoy music; they even have a weekly dance party to enjoy listening to and moving to the music. Recently, a Christian organization from Denmark, Gideon’s Army, donated a brand new Camac Hermine Harp with 34 strings to the Haifa Home. On the day the harp was delivered, a concert was given by Olga, a professional harpist with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Haifa. The beautiful, delicate sounds of the strings touched many hearts. Olga promised to come with her students and perform a concert for our residents once a month. We also invite anyone who knows how to play the harp well to come to our Home and give a concert for our residents.

The Facts & Figures*:
Let’s take a look at the facts to get a better picture of the Holocaust Survivors living in Israel today.

• There are still 193,800 Holocaust Survivors living in Israel.
• The age range for Holocaust Survivors is 74 to over 100 years old, and 15% are over 90 years old.
• 1/3 were born between 1939-1945, and are now 74 – 80 years old
• 60% are women & 40% are men
• 64% were born in Europe (36% from the former Soviet-Union)
• 16% were born in Morocco
• 11% were born in Iraq and witnessed the Farhud in 1941
• 2% were born in Algeria
• 37% immigrated to Israel before 1951
• There are 24,000 married couples that both partners are Holocaust Survivors
• There are 13,600 Survivors living in Haifa

*These statistics were taken from the Central Bureau of Statistics on the occasion of the International Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January 2020), and are based on the number of Holocaust Survivors alive from December 2019.

Passing On & Making A Difference:
As the years go by, our residents are slowly aging, and many are passing on. Another one of our long-term residents passed away this January. Leah Levi, who moved to the Home with her husband nine years ago, both survivors from Romania, succumbed to cancer and has left another empty space in the Home and in our hearts. We recognize now more than ever that time is running out for us to impact Holocaust survivors. Therefore, we invite you to partner with the ICEJ in continuing to provide the best care and love to Holocaust survivors in Israel today!

Make a difference in the lives of Holocaust Survivors today!

800 Attend Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony in Germany

800 attend International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Germany

On Monday 27 January, around 800 Jews and Christians gathered outside the synagogue of Stuttgart to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the day of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp (1945), was organised by ICEJ-Germany. 

Sara Granitza, Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, and Stephan Lehnert (ICEJ Germany), laid a wreath outside the synagogue, followed by a “March of Remembrance” to the Liederhalle Convention Centre. 

Gottfried Bühler, National Director of ICEJ-Germany, addressed the packed auditorium: “Only together we can counter antisemitism. Politicians, churches, the media, every single one of us – we must assume responsibility.” Remembrance alone is not sufficient: “Antisemitism nowadays appears under a new guise – Anti-Israelism. As Germans who were born in post-war Germany, we declare our solidarity with the Jewish people and Israel!” 

Michael Kashi, board member of the regional Jewish community, pleaded not to forget what had happened: “Those who were brutally murdered deserve to be remembered.” 

The guest of honour was Eva Erben, a lively and witty 89-year old survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. Erben had travelled from Israel to speak in schools and take part in the remembrance ceremony. In 1941, she was deported to Theresienstadt Ghetto and later to Auschwitz. She lived through cruelties, hunger and sickness, and miraculously survived a death march. Erben and her husband, also a survivor, immigrated to Israel 1949. Today, they have three children, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. “We were the ones who built Israel – out of the ashes of the Holocaust”, Erben stressed. The evening was brought to a close with a standing ovation for Erben and the joint singing of the Israeli anthem Hatikva.

Auschwitz Survivor Urges German Students to Reject Antisemitism

Schools packed to hear ‘courageous’ Eva Erben on ICEJ-Germany speaking tour

As the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, an 89 year-old survivor of the Nazi death camp, Eva Erben of Ashkelon, toured public schools in Germany, telling enraptured students her life story of suffering and endurance on the perilous journey from Terezin to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Gross Rosen and finally the Death March.

In what has become an annual tradition around the January 27 Holocaust remembrance observances, the German branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosted a Holocaust survivor from Israel on a speaking tour in German schools and churches. But Eva Erben’s recent visit took on added significance as Germany wrestles with its rising antisemitism in the wake of the shocking terror attack at the Halle synagogue on Yom Kippur last October.

While Eva managed to survive the Shoah, she lost her parents and all of her extended family after the Wehrmacht occupied her native Czech Republic. For forty years, she did not talk about her ordeal and refused to speak in German. Now an aging matriarch with nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, she is determined to tell her story to one-and-all, driven by an urgency to combat both Holocaust denial and the resurgence of antisemitism.

At a school near Stuttgart, hundreds of students were hanging on her every word as an emotional Eva showed them faded photos of her relatives and said: “I want to make you understand that these pictures of my family before the war are pictures of a normal, happy Jewish family. This story is not just about me, but more about my generation and the generation of my parents. Why did they have to murder us, the Jewish people?”

“And now look at the world today,” she added. “Has anything changed? The Jewish people and the State of Israel is again singled out. Antisemitism is growing, like a virus spreading rapidly.”

“But you are our future,” she tells the schoolchildren. “Some of you will become politicians or leaders in other areas. You can do something about antisemitism. Hatred gives only tears. Hatred is destructive and destroys humanity.”

“Why did I come to Germany to share with you? You are not responsible for the Shoah, not for what your grandparents did. However, you are our future. You need to know what has happened, and that this can happen again, unless we tell the story and learn from it. I hope that you will make the right choice,” she concluded.

There is never time to tell her whole story, but Eva told the German schoolchildren mostly about the last months of the war. She and her mother were evacuated with other Jews from the Gross Rosen concentration camp and sent on one of the infamous death marches by foot in the dead of winter. Many were starving and sick, and many died along the way. This included Eva’s mother, who died in her arms.

“Eva, you need to continue,” she told her. She had always tried to give her daughter hope that life would return to normal for them one day. But now Eva was left to give one last hug and kiss to her mother, and continue on with a broken heart and very little hope or strength.

One night, Eva slipped away from the march and fell asleep in a barn tucked near a cow under some hay, seeking warmth due to the bitter cold and her thin clothing. The next day a boy woke her up and warned her that German soldiers were still around. She followed a train track and ran into a soldier who had deserted his unit and just wanted to go home. He gave her some bread and milk, but her stomach could not handle it and she almost died. Eva was down to only 25 kilos.

Later, she came across a German guard who pointed his gun at her ready to pull the trigger. But another guard quickly came and said, “Don’t waste your bullet, she will die on her own.” Shortly after, she passed out and the next thing she remembers is waking up in a barn, where a local Czech lady took her in and cared of her until the German army had withdrawn.

Eva Erben has compiled her entire life story in a book entitled “I Am Forgotten” (“Man hat mich vergessen” in German), which the ICEJ-Germany branch supplied every student who came to hear her talk. They all wait in line for Eva to sign their copies, which she eagerly does, adding a trademark “Shalom” above her signature. Everyone lets Eva know they are glad she came.

“Thank you, Mrs. Erben, for sharing your story,” one student remarked. “You are a courageous lady.”

“It touched me deeply what you have been through and your strength to live and help build up Israel,” said another. “Your story is a story of hope.”

“We have heard and read a lot about this war,” added a third student. “You share your story in such a way that I can picture it. I will never forget this and hope it will never, ever happen again.”

“Eva has a burning message on her heart as antisemitism is on the increase again,” noted ICEJ staff member Jannie Tolhoek, who accompanied Eva on her speaking tour. “While she shared her story at the different schools, you could sense their rapt silence. No one wanted to miss a single word. We believe it will make a difference in Germany’s future.”

[Credit photos to ICEJ or Courtesy of Eva Erben]

Israel: An Ongoing Miracle

"When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream." (Psalm 126:1)

Like a dream. This is indeed how it felt here in Israel in the first weeks of 2020. In the 72nd year of Israel‘s independence, Israel and the world commemorated 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Israel indeed rose like a phoenix from the ashes. From the lowest point of Jewish history, the Holocaust, when hope was lost, Israel was resurrected as a nation state after 2000 years. On May 14, 1948, it was like the prophet Ezekiel declared: "… I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezek. 37:11-12)

Israel started as a pioneering agricultural state, surrounded by enemies. The past 72 years the Jewish enterprise has become the most miraculous success story in modern history. Israel became a lead nation in many areas of technological advancement and became a leading contributor of quick and unbureaucratic aid whenever a natural disaster strikes around the world. Although for decades, Israel was an isolated state with virtually the whole world against it, this picture is dramatically changing before our eyes. Everywhere we see signs that not only has Israel’s restoration process not stopped nor slowed down but we see an acceleration of even more amazing changes taking place. Just during the first few weeks of this year we witnessed several amazing developments that underline the Lord’s continuing process of restoring Zion in our days.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isaiah 44:3)

The biggest and most important water reservoir in Israel is the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. The water level of this comparatively small lake is notorious for continuously bouncing on and off the lower red line and at times even dropping far below its red line: a line when no more water can be pumped from the Kinneret, thus endangering Israel’s supply of fresh water.

This ongoing water crisis (like most crisis in Israel) led to groundbreaking and innovative political decisions. Israel recycles 85% of its water for agricultural use, the highest rate of any nation worldwide and has, in recent years, become the world leader in water desalinization. Today 90% of the water coming from faucets of most private households and hotel rooms originate from the desalination plants along the Mediterranean Sea. Israel‘s water production is growing and is turning Israel into a main water supplier for the region.

In spite of all these technological advances, the shore of the Kinneret continued to recede to dangerous levels, threatening a biological collapse of the lake. The past two years however saw record-breaking rainfalls, positioning the Kinneret on a fast pace to reach maximum capacity. When it is reached, the floodgates to the Jordan river will be opened to avoid flooding in the cities around the Kinneret. Already last year we witnessed a historic down pouring in Jerusalem, when rivers and waterfalls were seen all around Jerusalem. This weather not only impacts the Sea of Galilee but also the Negev and Israel’s aquifers have been receiving much-needed water. The desert is blossoming and ‘streams in the desert‘ are frequently sighted in the Negev and Judean desert.

The prophet Isaiah foresaw such a time yet not just in the natural but also in the spiritual: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.“ (Isaiah 44:3) Here in Jerusalem our prayer is this will remain not just a natural weather phenomenon but will also find a spiritual reality in Israel. Please pray with us.

The Gathering of 50 World Leaders

“When the Almighty scatters kings there, let snow fall on Zalmon.“ (Psalms 68:14)

Uniquely related to the weather was another historic event in Israel. On January 23 the Haaretz newspaper showed snow covered mountains across Israel on the same day world leaders arrived from around the globe to attend the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem.

Close to 50 heads of State, Royals and Government leaders arrived in Israel to make a joint declaration that each one of them would stand with determination against all forms of antisemitism in their own countries. Seeing the snowy mountains of Israel I was reminded of Psalms 68:14 “When the Almighty scatters kings there, let snow fall on Zalmon.” Mt Zalmon is one of the mountains in central Israel. The sentence ‘the Lord scatters kings’ could also be translated as ‘when the Kings spread out’, like a bird spreading his wing. I showed the Bible passage to a Jewish orthodox friend.

“Jürgen this is exactly what’s happening today. The world leaders come to Jerusalem to spread their wings over us,” my friend said. “They came to Jerusalem with a confession to stand with the Jewish people in their countries and not to tolerate any form of antisemitism.” Their determination of course needs to be proven by practical acts in the years to come, but it was indeed a historic moment. Never before in Israel’s 4000-year long history have so many national rulers arrived in Jerusalem solely to show their support to the Jewish people.

The big litmus test of these nations’ dedication will be their stand against the most antisemitic nation in the world today: the Islamic Republic of Iran. The only international leader to address the subject in his talk was American Vice President Mike Pence, who called upon the world community to take a clear stand against Iran the only nation that calls for the destruction of the only Jewish State, the State of Israel.

In an almost prophetic call the former Chief Rabbi of Israel Meir Israel Lau, chairman of Yad Vashem, solemnly challenged the heads of State: “We heard your pledges today and we will remember them.“ He continued, reminding them they are men of great power: “Your signatures can change the fate of people and nations.“ He admonished when they leave Jerusalem to use their power to be a blessing for mankind.

Sitting at the ceremony witnessing this event, I was reminded of the prophets of old. I could not help but think of Isaiah 2:3; “Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; …. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.“ For me it felt like a powerful foreshadow of days to come. 

Further economic breakthrough

“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” (Isaiah 61:7)

Israel’s economy has grown in recent decades, far outpacing the average OECD countries around the world to become a world leader in so many areas, including in the high-tech sector and research. With many global companies (Apple, Microsoft, Intel, BMW, etc.) establishing research and development centers in Israel, it has become a hub for new technology. Yet while Israel has an incredible pool of brainpower it always suffered a major lack of natural resources.

While neighboring nations enjoyed huge oil fields, it appeared Israel was left out of the wealth of this regional bounty. For many years oil drilling endeavors took place across several places in Israel, all to no avail. But a few years ago, off the Mediterranean coast, huge gas fields were discovered. The field has proven to be so big that it will not only provide enough energy for Israel for decades to come but will allow the Jewish Nation to become a significant energy exporter in the region.

This past January was a historic moment as Israel’s economy took a major step forward when the gas pipes were officially opened and gas exports are starting to flow to Egypt and Jordan. It is expected that the resulting billions of shekels will provide another major boost for Israel’s already strong economy.

The deal of the century

“… for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.” (Genesis 13:15)

Towards the end of January another historic juncture arrived when the US government released what they called the ‘deal of the century.’ This new peace plan revealed by the Trump administration was historic in many ways, characterized by an entirely different spirit than all other plans presented in the past decades. The historic component was not only is this proposed plan not biased against Israel but is the first one perceived as even friendly towards the Jewish state. It was also the most realistic plan ever presented as it recognized certain facts on the ground over which Israel would never compromise, namely that Israel would never allow millions of Palestinian refugees to return after half a century of absentee to Israel. It recognized that the major settlements in Judea and Samaria would never be abandoned by Israel and that Jerusalem would always remain the undivided capital of the Jewish State. At the same time a historic high financial stimulus was offered to the Palestinians plus a land swap for what they would perceive as lost territory.

What was most surprising and equally historic was the reaction of the Arab world. Instead of the default rejection of Arab countries, they were this time the first to publicly endorse the plan. This was even more surprising as the plan declared undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State. These developments underline not only a shift on the international parquet but demonstrated also an even more significant and ongoing transformation within the Arab world. Israel had become – for many Gulf States and Egypt – not a liability but an asset to fight Islamic terrorism and a welcome ally against the regional rouge state, Iran.

This plan’s success still remains to be seen. Reading through the main points of this ‘deal of the century’ made me rejoice on one side that for the first time a plan emerged fully recognizing Israel‘s security needs and its right in large part to the land they settled on. But at the same time, I was concerned that the plan would keep ancient Jewish towns like Shechem, Hebron, etc. off limits for Israel by internationally recognized borders. I was reminded that God calls this land ‘My land’ (e.g. Ezek. 36:5; 38:16; Jer. 16:18). Also, the prophet Joel warns against any nation trading off pieces of the land of Israel. God clearly warns the nations against this, through the prophet Joel who announced judgement on the nations because they traded for and divided ‘my land‘ (Joel 3:2).

We need to recognize that it is not always wise for politicians to be making official decisions based on their interpretations of biblical prophecies. Thus, this is definitely a matter we are all called to pray about, for discernment and for God’s will to be manifested on earth as it is in heaven.

A historic undecidedness

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21)

As Israel experienced these amazing developments, the nation also found itself in a political and equally historic limbo. After two elections within one year (2019), Israel was not able to establish a functioning government. The surprising fact about this unique season is that the elected representatives (and their parties) did not disagree so much about political programs but more about personality. The big matter of contention was the person of Benjamin Netanyahu. The papers widely covered various corruption allegations leveled against Netanyahu, while at the same time recognizing that much of the current economic success story of this Startup Nation is due to his stellar leadership.

Many in Israel just desire change because they have become ‘tired’ of the same face in Israeli news. For many of the believers in Israel Netanyahu has the best understanding of the strategic importance of the global evangelical movement. It is true that the relationship to President Donald Trump and his evangelical constituency was a key factor in the US embassy move to Jerusalem and the favorable paradigm of the new peace plan. The same can be said of the historically good relationship to Brazil‘s president who enjoys great support of evangelicals and confessed just a few weeks ago in Brazil his personal faith in Jesus. Netanyahu is also seen by many as the architect of the historically good relations with Israel’s Arab neighbors.

The word of God reminds us however that the appointment of leaders is ultimately in the hand of God. The most important thing we can do in the nations is to pray for Israel and its leaders, and that God would appoint a man after his heart to lead the nation in justice and righteousness.

Conclusion
Exciting developments in Israel give us a lot to give praise and thanks to God. Israel continues to be restored even beyond what many hoped and dreamed. It is indeed a privilege to be alive in these historic days. Many prophets of old must have dreamed to see what we can witness with our own eyes.

But in spite of all these exciting developments, Israel needs our prayers. Israel urgently needs a functioning government. Wisdom is needed for any government that will be elected and formed in March this year. Israel will need to make strategic decisions that will alter the future of Israel for the decades to come. We all are called to stand with Israel in prayer and intercession as never before that God‘s will be done ‘as in heaven so on earth‘. 

Smoothing the Way for New Immigrants

ICEJ Impacting Lives at Ye’elim Absorption Center in Beersheva

For Jewish families making Aliyah (immigrating) to Israel, landing at Ben Gurion Airport and receiving their Israeli identity cards marks the beginning, rather than the end, of a new journey. Smoothing the way for these new arrivals means helping them learn the language, find suitable employment and understand how daily life in Israel works.

Although Olim (new immigrants) face many challenges in their new lives, gainful employment is sometimes the greatest hurdle. Among the many integration projects funded by ICEJ AID over the years, vocational training and professional re-certification within Israel are vital, paving the way to economic independence for families and their successful integration in the Land. 

ICEJ AID staff recently visited the Ye’elim Absorption Center in Beersheva, to meet newly arrived immigrants and bless them with household items. Our staff also spoke with several recent recipients of vocational assistance from ICEJ.

Computer Programmer Gets a Restart
Denise, a computer programmer from Russia, made Aliyah with his wife and young son last year. Employment as a programmer with an Israeli company required a whole new system and language. Fortunately, Denise had the opportunity to study Hebrew, English and computer programming systems through an ICEJ Aid-sponsored vocational program. 

Today, equipped with fluency in both languages and new Israel-certification, Denise is ready to apply for programming jobs. He is thankful to the ICEJ for the opportunity to study, for teachers who eased his way, as well as for children’s programs which taught his little boy Hebrew and other essential skills. Laughing to himself, Denise said, “My little boy can speak even better Hebrew than me.” 

ICEJ helps Civil Engineer Build a New Life
We also met Pablo from Venezuela who needed to relearn his civil engineering skills in a completely different language. Accepted to an accelerated Hebrew and vocational training program, Pablo has worked hard to master Hebrew and relearn the engineering terms and systems here in Israel. 

“Making Aliyah is not easy, especially at my age of 52”, Pablo explained. “But because the situation in Venezuela became worse, we realized it is better for us to live here in Israel.” We rejoiced with him when he shared some good news: “Thank God, I got two job offers, and today I have to decide and give an answer to the companies”, smiled Pablo. 

Morris Korim, Director of the Ye’elim Absorption Center, expressed his heart-felt gratitude towards the Christian Embassy: “You brought presents to our Olim today, but the biggest gift is your presence….The best present is our long lasting partnership with the ICEJ and Christian friends around the world. We appreciate your support that has been for the Aliyah and integration of new arrivals to Israel. We believe this partnership of 25 years gives us the strength to continue on.” 

We rejoice with Denise, Pablo and many others who have courageously uprooted their lives to start afresh in Israel with a new language, culture, land, people, career, and way of life. Thank you for joining us in helping Jewish families not only make it home to Israel, but also to thrive here! 

"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”’" (Ezekiel 11:17) 

Help us assist more new immigrants in their transition to Israel.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

“‘Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,’ says the Lord; ‘for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,’ says the Lord.” (Zechariah 2:6)

ICEJ’s Aliyah Director Howard Flower shared this verse with ICEJ Homecare and said, “The Aliyah from the North began to increase some 10 years ago. It has continued to increase and now it’s most active. The winds of Aliyah from the East, South and West have grown calm for now.  But the Aliyah from the North is what God is doing today.”

Homecare is privileged to have ongoing contact with many of these immigrants from the North, and throughout 2019 it brought both blessings and challenges in our work.  

One challenge was witnessing the suffering of one dear lady each week. In the Former Soviet Union, she was involved in scientific research, but in her senior years she was bedbound and very lonely.  She often said to ICEJ Homecare nurse Corrie Van Maanen, “My week goes from Wednesday to Wednesday because then you are coming.” Just after she turned 90, she passed away.

A blessing we were able to participate in was the Bar Mitzvah of the grandson of a lady who has enjoyed the help of Homecare for many years. “The fact that I was invited was very special, because the lady’s son and grandchildren have embraced the ultra-orthodox lifestyle,” explained Corrie. The ultra-orthodox is a sector of Judaism not usually accepting of Christians. However, this family welcomed Corrie with love to their family gathering because of the relationships built over the years.

Throughout 2019, there were answers to prayer from the God of Israel who does the impossible. The voice of a single mother, living in an impoverished area of Tel Aviv whom Homecare is helping monthly, was filled with disappointment and despair. She works hard but cannot make ends meet and had been eagerly waiting for a ‘subsidized living’ apartment. She was told there would be further delays. “When she stopped talking,” said Corrie, “I simply said that we will pray. Two weeks later, she excitedly said that it wasn’t possible, but God had done it. She has a new ‘subsidized living’ apartment!”

Thanks to your faithful giving and prayers, Homecare had a great year in 2019 and we look forward to this new year of 2020 to continue caring for those who have made Israel their home!

To donate to this important and heartfelt work, visit: int.icej.org/homecare

The Tabernacle of Meeting

Happy New Year! Beginning each year with a renewed commitment to prayer is a pattern laid out by the Lord in Exodus 40. As the chapter opens, the Lord commands Moses to set up the Tabernacle of meeting on the first day of the first month, as a place of prayer and communion with God. The tent was to be a place of ministry, where the High Priest and Levites would perform the required sacrifices and stand in the gap for the People of Israel. 

Here at the ICEJ we hold prayer in a very high regard. Through prayer, God’s people rise up to be His instrument to shift nations, cities, and our personal lives. Over the past six months we have seen the Lord use prayer at the ICEJ to cause shifts in nations at the highest level. 

During a time of prayer, the Lord gave ICEJ leadership Psalm 2:8 as an invitation, “Ask of Me, and I will give you nations as your inheritance.” Soon after, the doors opened for a meeting with the royal family of Serbia, to share with them the Father’s heart for Israel. Months later the Lord positioned ICEJ to bring a delegation of Egyptian believers to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. In response, God released a deluge of rain over Egypt filling the once-low aquifers.

Lastly, during the Feast the Lord released His word through our leadership, proclaiming a shift was coming for the nation of Bolivia. Returning home, the Bolivians witnessed the Lord uproot their president and establish new leadership who boldly declared, “The Bible is very important to us. Our strength is God.” 

Prayer is the engine that empowers the ICEJ to accomplish all the Lord has called us to do. As 2020 begins, will you commit to partner with us in prayer? More than 5,000 people from 120 countries have already committed to join our monthly Isaiah 62 prayer initiative and almost 650 committed intercessors have joined the ICEJ PrayerWave Initiative. Come and be a part of what the Lord will do in 2020.

 

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