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Congratulations to Our New Vice President, Nicole Yoder!

I am thrilled to announce our senior leadership team will be expanded by the addition of our long-time staff member Nicole Yoder. Nicole will serve as Vice President of Aid & Aliyah.

Nicole has been faithfully serving our ICEJ AID department for over twenty years now, and has been Director of the department since 2006. In this vital role for our ministry, she has witnessed firsthand the challenges which many Israelis face throughout the Land. Through her leadership the ICEJ has provided caring, effective solutions for countless Israeli families, minority groups and individuals. This experience, combined with her language skills in Hebrew and Arabic and valuable relationships she developed with Israeli social workers, more than qualify her for this new task. Nicole has also recently completed a Master’s degree focused on the unique challenges of Ethiopian Jewish Aliyah, which even adds to her qualification. 

Most importantly however: Nicole is woman who is dedicated to Jesus and his purposes with Israel and the Jewish people. She will thus be a great addition to our leadership team. 

Nicole’s new duties also will include overseeing the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts, which are managed day-to-day by our energetic Director of Aliyah, Howard Flower. She also will have oversight of our absorption activities for new immigrants, which includes the ICEJ Homecare program faithfully run by Corrie van Maanen. 

The ICEJ board enthusiastically welcomed the decision of Nicole Yoder joining our other vice presidents currently serving with me in Jerusalem: 

Barry Denison, Vice President of Jerusalem Operations
Mojmir Kallus, Vice President of International Affairs
David Parsons, Vice President & Senior Spokesman
David van der Walt, Vice President of Finances

The Knock on Netanyahu

For the past year, Israel has been stuck in a baffling political impasse which may take three elections to resolve and currently hinges on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can and should remain in office while under criminal indictment. This is unchartered water for Israeli democracy, and a supreme challenge to the legacy of the nation’s longest-serving leader.

Netanyahu has been serving as caretaker prime minister since calling early elections in November 2018, but twice he has failed to form a new government following nationwide ballots in April and September. As we go to press, a dreaded third election is looming and can only be averted by major (even miraculous) compromise by the main parties involved. The whole dynamic shifted recently when Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his decision to indict Netanyahu for fraud, breach of public trust, and bribery.

The charges capped a series of investigations that have hounded Netanyahu for several years now, and he quickly denounced them as a “coup” cooked up by the Left, the biased media, and crooked police elements. Netanyahu was still hoping to win immunity from prosecution in the Knesset and somehow stay in office. But that option may no longer be viable: Israeli law does not require a sitting prime minister under indictment to resign until he is duly convicted, but it also may bar him from receiving a mandate from the president to head a new government.

It will take time to play out, but Netanyahu’s ten-year reign as Israel’s premier may be ending. He has a decent chance to fend off the charges and make another comeback one day. But calls for his resignation are mounting, and even within his Likud party the jockeying to succeed him as chairman has begun.

The Bane of Bad Press
How did ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu get here? There are three criminal cases against him, one involving “improper gifts” (expensive cigars, pink champagne) he received from wealthy friends allegedly in return for favours. The others revolve around his efforts to get better press: the Yediot/ Israel Hayom affair and then the Bezeq/Walla case, which has the strongest evidence and carries the most serious charge of bribery.

It is generally a bad idea to criminalise anyone’s efforts to get better media coverage. But it also is clear that Netanyahu (and his family) had grown frustrated with the continual sniping against them in the Israeli press, and he was looking for ways to change that which he must now answer for in court.

These scandals arose amid an atmosphere in which Netanyahu was widely portrayed as being corrupted by power. The Israeli Left has been floundering for years due to the lack of a viable peace agenda with the Palestinians. Instead, they began pushing an anti-Bibi agenda which gained traction in the media, leading to the rise of Blue & White and his present predicament.

In retrospect, Benjamin Netanyahu has always faced unfair criticisms and hurdles during his rise and prolonged stay in power. Here are some potent (though often hidden) examples which help explain why he grew so weary of the negative press and why the Left is so hostile to him.

The Shadow of Yoni
Growing up, Benjamin Netanyahu and his older brother, Yonathan, were regarded as among the Likud’s ‘young princes’ — sons of the party’s founders destined for national leadership. But Yoni Netanyahu’s date with destiny was cut short when he fell in battle while commanding the epic Entebbe raid in July 1976.

“Yoni” instantly became a national hero – a bright, handsome and daring poet/warrior whose men would follow him anywhere. That romanticised view of Yoni Netanyahu remains undiminished by the years, as evidenced by the recent Netflix film “Follow Me”.

By all accounts, the lionisation of Yoni is well placed. However, it also meant young Bibi would always be dogged by unfair comparisons to him. From the start of his public career as a gifted young Israeli diplomat at the UN, the ‘knock’ on Bibi was that Yoni would have been a truly great leader but the nation got stuck with second best. Sure, Benjamin Netanyahu has proven to be exceptionally articulate and highly competent in geo-strategic and economic affairs – indeed a generational statesman for Western democratic freedoms. But inside Israel, many still see him as standing in Yoni’s shadow, or even worse as exploiting Yoni’s popularity and tragic death to advance his own career. This has been an immensely unjust and painful hurdle for him to overcome.

The Shadow of Rabin
As Netanyahu rose within Likud, he became party chairman and Opposition leader in 1995, just as the nation became bitterly divided over the Oslo process. When prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Right-wing extremist, the Left blamed Bibi for fuelling the incitement that led to his death. The accusations were unfounded, and he has spent many years denying them. But the Left’s loathing of Netanyahu for Rabin’s death (and for killing Israel’s best chance for peace) is still lurking in the background of the present drive to oust him.

The Shadow of Ben-Gurion
The Left did manage to drive Netanyahu from power once before, in 1999. Humbled, he took a break from politics and then staged a comeback in 2005, when Ariel Sharon abandoned Likud for Kadima ahead of the Gaza Disengagement. By 2009, Netanyahu returned to the premiership and has held it ever since. This means he now has eclipsed founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. The Left resents this and is determined to depose him.

This particular ‘knock’ on Bibi runs deeper than most realise. Ben-Gurion built Israel as a model of European socialism. Like the kibbutzim, he envisioned the entire nation as an egalitarian society where everyone would share in its success, and seeking individual wealth was taboo. Ben- Gurion himself lived an austere lifestyle and rarely wore a tie. 

Over recent decades, Israel has transformed into the innovative “Start-Up Nation” modelled more on American capitalism. Israelis are inventing cutting-edge paywalls and traffic apps and then cashing out in the billions—something which would have been frowned upon in the 1950s. Netanyahu has epitomised this socio-economic makeover by championing privatisation, free markets and Israel’s hi-tech wizardry.

With their dreams of peace and an ideal socialism gone, many on Israel’s Left now say they want to preserve Israel as a paradigm of pure, upright democracy. That is an honourable goal! But they contend Bibi has tarnished Israeli democracy with his corruption and constant manoeuvring to retain power. Whether those criticisms are valid will now be adjudged in a court of law. But he does have a legitimate complaint about being unfairly chased from office.

The legacy of Benjamin Netanyahu is still being written. But he already stands on rarefied grounds as an orator and statesman, and a master of the rough-and-tumble of Israeli politics.

Meanwhile, if the Israeli people want to offer the world an enviable model of democracy, then a lot more must change than simply ditching Netanyahu. And the nation needs to examine whether the current push to oust and disgrace him is really rooted in jealousies and unwarranted ‘knocks’ on a truly great leader.

Christian Media Summit & Arise Summit 2019

ICEJ Staff Joins Christian Media Summit

Recently, a strong contingent of local ICEJ staff led by David Parsons and ICEJ representatives from abroad took part in the third annual Christian Media Summit, sponsored by the Israel Government Press Office.

The four-day event featured a reception and press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a full day of lectures and briefings by Israeli officials and experts, as well as a field trip to the Golan which included a dedication ceremony at Ramat Trump (the new village established in honour of the US President’s recent recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights).

There also was a special track for young Christian journalists and social media activists which was joined by several of our Jerusalem staff. The summit concluded with a reception and audience with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence, where the ICEJ delegates came together for a group photo.


ARISE Summit 2019

ICEJ leadership was honored to recently attend the 2019 ARISE Business Summit in Rishon LeTzion. ARISE founder Calev Myers created the event to introduce believing ministries around the world to Israel’s amazing innovation. Over 600 international investors and Israeli business owners had over 150 one-on-one meetings throughout the course of the event, discussing mutually beneficial investment opportunities. The Summit was a great success and the ICEJ is proud to partner with ARISE in bringing growth to the nation of Israel.

Balaam and the Fringes of the Camp

Choosing the right outlook towards God’s people

One of the Bible’s most tragic figures is the prophet Balaam. He was a hired-gun prophet lured by fame, honor and money to curse the people of God. Three times the New Testament uses him as a warning and example for similar type of evil prophets who would emerge in the last day’s church (2 Peter 2:13; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14). In many ways Balaam’s story is an example of how Satan tries to attack the people of God – both Israel and the church today. The same strategy is repeated throughout history in the way nations and individuals deal with the Jewish people and it is also employed by Satan when dealing with the church – through attacks from without and from within.

The story begins at the very end of Israel’s 40 years of desert wandering; the nations in and around Canaan increasingly perceived the people of Israel as a major threat. After successfully countering attacks from the Canaanite King of Arad (Numbers 21:1-3) and the Amorites (Numbers 21:21-31) Israel stood at the banks of the river Jordan opposite Jericho just about to enter into their destiny, the land of Israel. Then the Bible tells us: “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel” (Numbers 22:2-3).

Balak, the Moabite king’s name, is best translated as ‘devastator’. Balak saw his influence shrinking and made a noteworthy decision. Unlike the king of the Canaanites and the Amorites, he did not resort to his army and military experience but looked instead for a spiritual solution, a curse. He called for Balaam, an expert prophet known to communicate with Jehovah the almighty God. According to Jewish tradition Balaam’s position among the Gentile nations was equal to that of Moses in regard to Israel.

While God repeatedly warned Balaam not to engage in that mission, Balaam persisted in looking for a spiritual loophole to still curse the people of Israel, and even a talking donkey could not dissuade him. When Balaam arrived at Moab, ready to fulfill his mission, what happened next is a textbook lesson on Satan’s schemes against God’s people.

Satan’s viewpoint
Immediately upon Balaam’s arrival Balak took him to a place overlooking the people of Israel.
“So it was, the next day, that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to the high places of Baal, that from there he might observe the extent of the people” (Numbers 22:41).

But the scheme of Balak did not work and Balaam was ordered by God to bless Israel, which he did. “How can I curse what God has not cursed … behold a people dwelling alone … let my end by like his” (Numbers 23:8-10).

Balak, furious about Balaam’s blessing, repeated the scheme but shifted the perspective: "Please come with me to another place from which you may see them; you shall see only the outer part of them, and shall not see them all; curse them for me from there" (Numbers 23:13). But even there, Balaam could only bless Israel: “God is not a man that he should change his mind … he has blessed and I cannot revoke. He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob … for there is no enchantment against Jacob…” (Numbers 23:19-23).

Note what Balak did: He never gave Balaam the full picture but only showed him the ‘extent of the people’ and ‘the outer part’ of Israel. He only allowed Balaam to see the fringes of Israel and never the entire camp. The question is what exactly did Balaam see? You might be surprised but the Bible tells us what he most likely saw.

The fringes of the camp
The word of God provides great detail of happened at the fringes, at the outskirts of the camp. In Leviticus 13:46 God commanded lepers where to live ‘outside the camp,’ and is also where criminals and blasphemers were stoned to death (Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 15:35), the unclean lived (Num 5:3) and, in a case of war, ‘outside the camp’ served as the army’s latrine. Imagine what Balaam saw when he looked at the ‘outer parts of the camp’: Unclean people, lepers, stonings and most likely constant toilet runs. It must have looked awkward and was thus an easy prey to curse.

It must have been even more amazing for Balaam when God was not willing to curse such an awkward-looking people. On the contrary when Balaam prophecies by the Holy Spirit: “He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob nor has he seen trouble in Israel,” he might have wondered about who is God speaking. “Is this really the people I see,” Balaam might have asked himself.

The full picture
But as Balaam prepared to prophecy a third time he now understood it was a hopeless endeavor to curse Israel. God was obviously determined to bless Israel and thus there must have been more to the people of God than what he saw, so Balaam tried to see the full picture. “Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery… And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him” (Numbers 24:1-2).

What a magnificent view it must have been. The 12 tribes of Israel arranged in perfect order: Three tribes each towards east, south, west and north, with every tribe’s banner directed towards the center. An inner ring of tents was reserved for the levitical orders Kehat, Gershon and Merari, and in the center of it all stood the tabernacle, with the cloud of the glory by day and a pillar of fire by night. When Balaam saw this the Spirit of God came upon him and he cried out: “How lovely are your tents oh Jacob, your encampments oh Israel!” He began to understand the purpose of God for Israel and declared “Blessed are those who bless you and cursed are those who curse you” (Numbers 24: 3-9).

A spiritual battlefield
This story has tremendous applications for us as Satan employs exactly the same scheme today. Small incidents in Israel make it with incredible ease into the world media. Just a few weeks ago the United Nations looked again at Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, a nation with a more free and diverse media than most other nations of the world, a nation which provides more international aid in global crisis situations than most other countries, and turned the desert into a garden of eden.

But Israel was not commended by the UN for its leadership but instead, was condemned eight times that day. In an entire year, countries like North Korea, Syria, Iran and similar states received only one (1) resolution against them in total. Israel received eight in one day! Surely, Israel is not a perfect country and many issues still need to be solved. But considering they are surrounded by entities and groups that plan 24/7 to annihilate them, the Jewish State is doing remarkable well, in fact better than many western democracies.

Why is the world is so obsessed by Israel? What other explanation can there be than indeed dark spiritual powers are directing minds to look only at the ‘outskirts of the camp’ as Balaam did in the biblical account. The word of God teaches that spiritual principalities rule over nations and regions. The Prophet Daniel experienced this when, during his prayer time, angelic powers were mobilized and he received revelation about a ‘prince of Persia’ and a ‘prince of Greece’ with authority over powerful kingdoms (Daniel 10:13, 20). As Paul describes: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Just as Balak (the destroyer) directed and manipulated Balaam to look only at ‘the fringes’ of the camp and curse the people of God, these evil principalities of destruction guide the minds of decision makers today according to his desire (Ephesians 2:1-3). Illogical decisions are made which defy reason but amazingly they are applauded by a majority of the nations. The ‘settlements’ which in many places become true places of co-existence between Jews and Arabs, where Palestinian workers earn equal to Israeli workers and often support entire families, are called ‘obstacles to peace.’ Israel that defends itself against barrages of rockets from Gaza is condemned as the aggressor. Why? Because the full picture is so often withheld from decisionmakers.

Satan also works this way within the church and among believers. We all have our ‘fringe issues’; areas in our lives that are imperfect. That is true for any individual and for the church. None of us is perfect and there is no perfect church. On the contrary John says if we pretend to be perfect we deceive ourself and even make God a liar (1 John 1:8-10). But these ‘fringe issues’ in our lives and in the lives of others are exactly the areas Satan likes to bring to our attention. He highlights what is imperfect in our church, with our Pastors and with brothers and sisters around us. He points out the ‘fringe areas’ of our spouses and our children, and encourages a verdict based on them. If we dwell on these ‘fringe issues’ and give them room in our thinking and judgement this can lead to church splits or broken families and instead of blessings we declare curses and cause division.

The view of God
What amazes me is the way God declared his view through the Holy Spirit through Balaam:
"He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them” (Numbers 23:21). This is a rather amazing statement, considering Balaam was looking down on the place where leprosy, impurity and sin was to be found. Even more astonishing, a review of the preceding chapters does not portray people in which there is no iniquity or wickedness, but rather describes a complaining people (Numbers 11). The Bible recounts key tribal leaders attacking Moses (Numbers 16) and even Aaron and Miriam attacking their brother (Numbers 12). It depicts a people refusing to enter the promised land (Numbers 13, 14) and being impatient with God and Moses. Balaam could have found plenty of material to base his curses on. But in spite of all this God declares “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob” and “How lovely are your encampments o Israel!”

This divine view is beyond human logic. I can only explain it by what happened day in and day out in the tabernacle right in the center of the camp. Twice a day, the priests would sacrifice a perfect lamb (Exodus 29:38-45) which would provide sanctification and allow God “to dwell among his people”. It is the blood that atones for our sin and covers them before God’s sight (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9;12).

Therefore, if you are a believer and have put your faith in Jesus, the Word of God declares that Jesus is your lamb and we are justified through his blood. This how heaven looks at us and is how we should look at each other. Knowing that we ourselves have received forgiveness in Jesus for all our shortcomings we need to see our brothers and sisters likewise.

Balaam’s story is repeatedly used in the New Testament as an example for what will happen in the last days. We do well to heed these warnings and act accordingly. It may not only prevent great harm but also, if we act in the right way, it can release a new blessing to our lives, churches, nations and even upon Israel.

I pray that as we look upon each other and upon Israel that we choose heaven’s perspective and confess with God: How lovely are your tents o Jacob!

Practical Applications to Combat the "Devastator's" Schemes:

1.) Prayer
One of our most powerful tools is prayer. Fervent prayer can change the atmosphere of a family, church and even a nation. Daniel’s 21 days of prayer and fasting affected the heavenly realities in his time (Daniel 10). Targeted and persevering prayer of the believer can change a hostile atmosphere in a country that looks at and highlights the faults and shortcomings of Israel (and the church.) Persevering prayer can break the spirit of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

2.) Speak the truth
Secondly if Israel’s enemies highlight her faults and perceived problematic issues, we need all the more to boldly proclaim the truth. The book of Revelation tells us they overcame the Devil “… by the word of their testimony…”. If you read an unbalanced, one-sided article about Israel, write back to the paper and show the full picture, ‘the whole camp.’ Speak about Israel’s amazing contribution to the world and the Middle East and ask the paper to be more balanced next time.
The same is true with your nation’s political stand. If you live in a country that encourages political dialogue, make your voice heard through letters to your representatives or join or even organize a solidarity initiative in your city.

3.) Love
This is particularly true within the church. Peter makes an amazing statement: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."” (1 Peter 4:8). An atmosphere of love and forgiveness will attract God’s favorable look upon his church and thus attract his blessing. Of course, sins need to be called by name and we are encouraged to admonish our brothers and sisters. But it must be done in love and compassion in the same way God is merciful to each one of us.

Visit to Haifa Home Impacts Feast Pilgrims From the Nations

A trip to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors is never easy, but always deeply rewarding. “We are so happy someone travels here to visit us. I love all the people who come to listen to our stories”, Esti Liber, survivor and resident in the facility gratefully told a group of 32 Christians from 13 different nations, many of whom had never before met a Holocaust survivor.

On 16th October, these Feast of Tabernacles pilgrims joined ICEJ AID’s Haifa Home bus tour. What better way to bless Israel than by showing love and care for its most wounded inhabitants? “The home has become a symbol of hope in all of Israel”, Yudit Setz, Deputy Director of ICEJ Aid, and Jannie Tolhoek, ICEJ Aid Administrator, told the group on their way to Haifa. Shimon Sabag, Founder and Director of the Home, warmly welcomed the visitors at the facility. 

The home currently accommodates up to 70 residents, yet a new building under renovation will provide more advanced one-on-one care for 12 elderly survivors. Furthermore, three precious volunteers from Germany joined the ICEJ Haifa Team in September: Debora Wanner, Marlen Degen and Kerstin Hoffmann. “With the little help that we give, we can do a lot of good. That is so exhilarating”, Debora rejoiced. Volunteers face the challenges of adapting to a new culture, building relationships with the survivors and being available around the clock, and the ICEJ is most grateful for these young women. Prayers for them are much appreciated. 

“We only have around ten years left to affect the lives of the remaining survivors who have suffered more than we could ever imagine”, Yudit Setz pointed out. The question is: What will we do with these years? One possibility is to support the work of ICEJ at the Haifa Home.

We also need more volunteers at the Haifa Home, especially for social media. If you desire more information, please contact Yudit Setz at: yudit.setz@icej.org

Join us in supporting and comforting the Jewish people! 

Auschwitz Memorial Walk & ICEJ-Germany

An Unusual Commemoration

“Here we are again, one year later: visiting Auschwitz, and then walking these 120 kilometers to commemorate the exceptional act of two Slovak Jews, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler. During the walk, old friends meet again and new friendships are struck up. Remembering those who never escaped from Auschwitz. Deep thoughts, light conversation, laughter and attentive listening to excerpts from books written by the two heroes. Anger, disappointment and reconciliation. New plans and ideas. Whatever you imagine.”

These are the words of a participant of the annual memorial walk from Oswiecim, Poland to Zilina, Slovakia. Since 2014, this walk has been organized by the Czech and Slovak branches of the ICEJ, to commemorate a heroic escape from the death camp in April 1944, motivated by the effort to save Hungarian Jews. The two Slovak escapees, Vrba and Wetzler, are credited with saving up to 200,000 lives; definitely something worth commemorating.

This commemoration is unique because it is not a ceremony or a classroom lecture, but it is action. People walk for six days, following in the footsteps of these heroes; exposed to the elements, sleeping in tents or simple mountain cabins. They spend time together, listen to the story of the escape, discover the authentic places, enjoy beautiful nature and have plenty of time for reflection. And, surprisingly, almost all of them return the next year to repeat this arduous, and yet richly rewarding experience. 

Their feedback might tell you why they return year after year:
“… Thank you for the wonderful week. Great cleansing of mind in the company of nice people. This year has been the best of all. I look forward to seeing you again next year.”

“Dear friends, thank you for your pleasant company of exceptional people during the walk in August. We will certainly see each other again.”

“Thank you for everything. It is wonderful that even after the walk is over, this community lives on. We are looking forward to the next meeting.” 

“Next year in Auschwitz” might sound strange, but actually, it is not a bad idea. Try it out. Check out the project website at www.vrbawetzler.eu where you will also find the application. I hope to see you there.
 

ICEJ-Germany hosts Yair Netanyahu at National Conference
-by ICEJ Staff

ICEJ-Germany held its annual national conference in Stuttgart in August, and invited Yair Netanyahu as a special guest to address the issue of German government funding of anti-Israel causes.

In recent months, German media outlets have been reporting extensively on the Berlin government’s direct and indirect grants to radical left-wing NGOs in Israel that seek to undermine Israeli policies and its democratic processes. The issue came to the fore after Yair Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister, challenged German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a tweet to stop the funding.

In his well-received speech to the gathering of over 1,000 German Christians and Jewish community leaders in Stuttgart, Yair Netanyahu provided more background on the German government’s funding of leftist NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian territories. He asserted that Germany does not provide similar funding to NGOs in any other democratic country except for Israel. He also noted persistent reports of German support of Iran over recent years. In other remarks, Netanyahu gave a review of modern Israel’s rebirth, and spoke of Israel’s favorable treatment of its Christian community in contrast to the plight of Middle East Christians in neighboring Arab countries.

A Happy Jewish New Year From St. Petersburg to Jerusalem

Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year, is a time of prayer and celebration. This year it fell on the first days of October, and the weeks before were especially busy for ICEJ’s Homecare. It is traditional to give and receive gifts during this holiday, so a group in the Netherlands with hearts for Holocaust Survivors ensured that 90 elderly Russian Jews, mainly in poor health, would not be forgotten. Therefore, on their behalf, 90 gifts were prepared and 90 extra home visits were made.

The beautiful packages contained handmade soap, a ceramic soap tray and small towel. Each gift included a greeting card with words of encouragement and Scripture for those who may feel lonely and uprooted in the land in which they were not born, but to where they made Aliyah. Each visit was warm and welcoming with various stories shared. There were happy childhood memories of how Rosh Hashanah was celebrated within their family, but also some painful memories of the loss of loved ones. “You bring us always, light and joy,” said an elderly couple with tears in their eyes. “You bring the world into my life,” said a lady who is wheelchair bound and without family, as she stretched her arms wide open to indicate the love she was receiving. 

Meanwhile, back in their former homeland, ICEJ’s Russian Branch Director Howard Flower, was also busy preparing for Rosh Hashanah. He visited a Jewish Community Centre to distribute gifts of clothing, food parcels and pharmacy vouchers. The Holocaust Survivors, war veterans, and invalids who received these gifts of love, struggle economically with inadequate pensions.

Their particular circumstances make it impossible for them to immigrate to Israel, but, “We try to do what we can for them,” says Howard. In the old homeland of St. Petersburg and the new homeland of Jerusalem, hearts were touched on this significant Jewish holiday by the love of Christians from the nations.

Support the life changing work of Homecare!

ICEJ in the Balkans & Holland - ICEJ International

Shaping History through Prayer in the Balkans
Macedonia, a federal state in former Yugoslavia, occupies a small area in the Western Balkans, between Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the name “Macedonia” became a problem for the Greeks who could not accept that the name, historically associated with Greece, should be used by another country. The impasse lasted for more than two decades until, in 2018, the leaders of Greece and the former Yugoslav republic agreed the country would be called North Macedonia. Local Christians shared with ICEJ a fascinating story behind this breakthrough which does not get reported in secular media. 

A group of intercessors from the Balkan countries had been meeting in different locations throughout the region to pray for healing, reconciliation and forgiveness; something this blood-drenched part of the world really needs. A few months ago, these intercessors met at a small town on the shores of the Prespa Lake and, during the prayer time, sensed spiritual breakthrough. Soon afterwards, the leaders of Greece and Macedonia met in the same town at the very same hotel and announced they had reached an agreement regarding the name of the country. 

When an international team and Mojmir Kallus, ICEJ Vice President of International Affairs, visited the region in September, they met several of the intercessors, and discovered the involvement of several ICEJ national leaders in this group. We rejoice at having found such faithful partners. Against this backdrop, we are full of confidence that the recently established branches in Bulgaria and Albania will continue to prosper. The newest addition is ICEJ-Macedonia, which was opened after a short preparatory work on 10 September 2019. National Director and professional musician, Asparuh Hadji Hristov, is supported by a board of pastors representing the Body of Christ in the country. We wish them much blessing for their work on behalf of Israel.
 

Holland Branch Hosts Summer Conference

Recently, ICEJ-Netherlands held its annual Summer Conference at a Christian retreat center in southern Holland which drew nearly five hundred Dutch believers from all over the country. National Director Dr. Jacob Keegstra (right) and his wife Hennie hosted the three-day gathering and David Parsons (left) came from Jerusalem to be the featured speaker.

Supporting Israelis in Times of Crisis

Israeli Security Officials Receive 21 ICEJ First Responder Kits

Sadot Negev security officials came together just outside an army base in the southern region of Israel to receive First Responder kits, donated by the ICEJ. As each officer received a backpack filled with tools and equipment to help them better respond in a crisis, they gave the ICEJ heartfelt thanks. Our ICEJ Aid director Nicole Yoder explained that Christians are providing these emergency response tools to Israeli communities because “We love this nation and we know that you as security officials have a challenging job to protect your communities along the border. We pray for you often, however, we also want to help in a practical way. May these tools help those first on the scene of crisis to respond quickly to save lives.”

The Security Chief of the Sadot Negev Region, Rafi Babian, shared his deep gratitude towards the ICEJ by saying, “Thank you very much for the first responder equipment, but also for all the calls from you to see how we were doing during times of crisis. It warms our hearts that there are people standing with us. We have many trained people, but we needed the right equipment. And now we have it. Thank you very much. Please continue to pray for the peace of the residents and the blessing of God.”

Thank you for your generous gifts to bless the Jewish people, allowing them to better prepare for times of crisis. Help us continue to stand with Israel today: int.icej.org/aid/israel_in_crisis
 

Destroyed by Fire, Yet Revived by Community
Five short kilometers from the Gaza border sits Kfar Aza, a small community regularly targeted by Gaza terrorists. Early September, ICEJ Aid received a grand tour of this strong and humble community Shai Hermesh, 75-year-old Kfar Aza resident. A former Knesset member who served in Israel’s parliament for seven years, Shai is down-to-earth, yet extremely resilient and passionate about people, politics, and the rights for Israelis to live in the land that belongs to Israel. He has been a mighty defender of his community and nation, even in the most life-threatening moments where Gaza continually launched rocket, mortar and fire raids at their homes and land.

As we walked the streets of this beautiful and peaceful area, we realized this place is not always so tranquil. Shai explained, “It is so peaceful, and yet it can be interrupted in a second.” Due to the continual attacks from Gaza, there are shelters every 150 meters throughout the kibbutz. The ICEJ has donated several shelters and a sheltered room, and we have recently donated to the reconstruction of their park which was destroyed by fire kites from Gaza. The people in this community were not willing to let their destroyed piece of land remain desolate; therefore, they asked for help to turn their burnt fields into a beautiful park. The park will serve as a gathering place for the kibbutz and is expected to be completed in February 2020. Thanks to God and your generous gifts for turning what the enemy meant for evil into something great: A beautiful park full of new trees, plants, fruit, and life!

The Gaza Border Region

The Gaza border region: Visiting some of Israel’s most vulnerable communities
 

During the Feast of Tabernacles, 45 delegates toured one of Israel’s most vulnerable regions: Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev. Bordering the Gaza strip, these communities are often targeted by terrorists’ fire missiles, mortars and balloons equipped with flammables and explosive devices. Our tour was accompanied by ICEJ-Aid Director Nicole Yoder and Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield, with whom ICEJ cooperates in setting up bomb shelters in vulnerable areas. 

In Kibbutz Magen we visited a karate club where children as young as four learn to defend themselves with their mere bodies. This form of self-defence is insufficient against rockets, so the students now also have access to a bomb shelter located right outside the building, thanks to the generous donation of ICEJ Switzerland. Following demonstration of a firefighting ATV, Ilan Isaacson, Head of Security of the Eshkol region, briefed us on the current security situation. Overlooking Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second largest city, we could sense Ilan’s sympathy towards the people of Gaza, also held hostage by terror organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and his deep hope that one day Israelis and Gazans would freely engage with each other as in the past. As we were listening, a fire balloon was reported near the Kibbutz we had been moments before.

Our final stop was Hetz Shachor, where the Deputy Head of Security of the Sha’ar HaNegev region explained how the local population stands together in administering trauma treatment and developing programs to build resilience. Their biggest challenge is not the missiles themselves, but the resulting traumatic effects on the residents. Since the first missiles were fired in 2001, an entire generation of children have grown up knowing nothing but a persistent missile barrage. People suffer from sleepless nights, depression and relive their trauma, unable to find closure. Nevertheless, Israelis from all parts of the country are moving to these areas and the population is steadily growing. Many are stirred by a deep love for the land and by the strong sense of community felt throughout these regions. Please support the ICEJ Israel in Crisis fund and help provide life-saving bomb shelters and equipment for Israeli communities who live in the frontline of terrorism.

Petra Winter from Germany explaine, “Most of all I was impressed by the locals’ resilience. They could easily leave the area, but they choose to stay. I was very reluctant to join this trip today. During the morning devotion I suddenly felt an impulse that I had to come and see how the people here live. What caught my attention was that in Gaza, children are being trained to fight and kill, in Israel we saw children being trained in karate to defend themselves. Children on both sides are being deprived of their childhood.” 

 

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