Change Region:New Zealand

Special Reports

Prepare the Way – Part II

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament in our Christian Bible. This prophet represents the very last words of the Old Testament era. Some theologians call the following 400 years the ‘time of silence’, when God would not speak again until His son Jesus came. This is how the Old Testament ends:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6/ESV)

It is the second “I will send” message in the book of Malachi. Already in verse 3:1, God declares: “I will send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me” – a clear reference to John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10). At the very end of the book, God again declares: “Behold I will send!” – revealing another facet of the ministry of John the Baptist, the one who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

There are two underlaying principles which define this Elijah ministry: First, it is a God-initiative. This is not a plan of man, but God says, “I will do it!” That leaves us with great hope, since it is not dependent upon man but God, its success is secured! We just need to align and submit ourselves to this great plan of God.

Secondly, this Elijah ministry needs the maximum attention possible. Malachi warns that the success of this Elijah figure will be of vital importance, otherwise God will “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” That means we cannot underestimate the importance of the Elijah ministry in the end times. It requires everyone’s attention; not only pastors and leaders but every member of the body of Christ needs to submit to this heavenly agenda.

The mission of this Elijah spirit seems rather unexpected. Elijah’s calling is focused on family relations. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. It is the generational and familiar relationships that matter to God in a great way.

In our individualistic Western societies, families are losing their importance. The family structure today is more under attack than ever before. Even the policies of many governments around the world undermine the biblical concept of a godly family, of a father and mother bearing and raising upright offspring. The biblical concepts of man and woman are under attack. Divorce rates are at record highs. Meanwhile, the mother’s womb was once a proverbial symbol of safety, but now it has become the most insecure place for an unborn child as millions of babies are killed in their mother’s womb before they have a chance to live.

The relationship between fathers and sons, and between God the Father and His children, can be defined through three different levels which all apply to our lives.

1) Personal Family Calling
When God called Abraham to be a blessing to the world and to father a people who would bring salvation and faith to the ends of the earth, He made it clear that this blessing was not just a blessing of a few individuals. Rather, God declared, “in you all the Families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

It is important to note that even the very purpose of God in calling Abraham focused on his own family relationship: “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:19) It was essential for Abraham’s calling that he would not serve just as an individual, but God saw the generational family bond as central in that calling.

Undoubtedly, the Jewish people today are an example to all the world of a faith and tradition that is not just kept individually, but it is passed on to the next generation through study (the first book children in observant families learn to read is Leviticus) and ceremony (e.g., the bar mitzva).

This did not change when they got to New Testament times. Often, we hear that whole households got saved and baptized. When God called Cornelius, the very first Gentile to receive the Gospel, He promised him… “you shall be saved, you and your household” (Acts 11:14). Paul gave the same promise to the jailor at Philippi… “you will be saved, you and your household” (Act 16:31).

My own family experienced this when God invaded the Bühler home some 80 years ago. He sovereignly touched my grandmother, and her whole family got saved. And this blessing carries on even to all her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

As you read this, I ask you to have faith in God not just for your own salvation but for your whole household. God wants “all the families of the earth” to be blessed.

Also, it means fathers in particular, you must assume your role as a priest over your family. The priestly role is to pray for your children and to teach them the ways of God. Do not leave this important task just to the church in Sunday school. Fathers are the most important role models in the life of a child.

Of course, the same role applies to mothers regarding their children. As I write this, I am still mourning the passing of my mother just a few days ago. Both my parents were models to me as they followed Jesus. Make the decision today like Joshua did: “Me and my house, we will follow the Lord!”

And of course, the same passage also applies for children. God engraved the relationship of children to their parents at the center of the Ten Commandments. “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). Paul makes a point that this commandment is the first one which carries a blessing – one of long life. He also reminds us that in the last days this biblical value and commandment will be undermined, as children will be “disobedient to parents” (Romans 1:30). As children, we are called to honour our fathers and mothers no matter how old we are or how old they are!

Much more can be said about this, but there is another level of this Elijah restoration that applies to us which we must consider.

2) The Faith of Our Fathers
There is another relationship concerning fathers, namely the “faith of our fathers”. In Malachi 2:10, God admonishes Israel about forsaking the “covenant of our fathers”.

Now the faith of the Bible is a faith of ‘new things’. It is a faith where every generation must find the way to serve God in their own way. God repeatedly announces throughout the prophets that He is doing a “new thing” (Isaiah 42:8; 43:19). He consequently rebukes people who never change but get stuck in their old traditions and ways of doing things (Jeremiah 48:11).

At the same time, change should never, ever alter or shake the foundations of our faith as revealed in the word of God. One thing which never changes is biblical truth, values and doctrines, simply because God does not change. Our means of communication, musical and rhetorical styles, or our order of service might change, but the message itself must never change. What God called “sin” two thousand years ago is still sin today. What God called “righteous and just” in the Bible will not be unrighteous and unjust today.

Churches and believers do well today to find their orientation in the early Church in Jerusalem, the model church established by the first apostles. The four great principles of the early Church – the apostles’ teachings, fellowship of the saints, the breaking of bread, and prayer – are indispensable for any church or community that seeks a move of God. This is why Israel’s prophets called upon “you who pursue righteousness […] look to the rock from which you were hewn […] look to Abraham your father and Sarah who bore you…“ (Isaiah 51:1f)

The truths that brought revival 200 years ago will not be abandoned today. Repentance and prayer are as essential today as they were in past revivals. There is no quick-fix, downloadable, instant revival which suits our modern lifestyle. The lives of John Wesley, George Whitefield, William J. Seymour or Reinhard Bonnke might significantly differ in style, but all carried the same DNA of a holy and dedicated life to Jesus. The old rugged Cross is still old and rugged today. But as we hold fast to it and proclaim it, the Cross will release its power full and fresh even in our post-modern world.

The call of Elijah is to uncover old wells that might have been stopped for decades and even centuries but, as we do, those wells will flow anew with fresh, living waters. This is what Elijah did when he re-erected the altar of God that was laying in ruins (1Kings 18:30).

Foundations are so central to our faith that the heavenly Jerusalem holds an unshakable and unchanging foundation of the twelve Apostles, and the twelve entry gates to the city are even more ancient as they have the names of the twelve tribal leaders of Israel.

It was likely for this reason that the angel who appeared to Zechariah slightly altered the quote of Malachi 4:5: “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). John the Baptist arrived in a generation that desperately needed to turn back to the principles of old. They had departed so much that the angel called them “disobedient”. John’s main message, therefore, was one of repentance. This ‘repentance’ in the Hebrew language means both to reverse and to turn in the direction you came from.

The spirit of Elijah thus represents not just a great hope and expectation for revival and signs and wonders, but it also represents lives of radically devoted believers who will uncompromisingly walk in the paths of the fathers and in doing so they will conquer new land!

3) The Fathers of Our Faith
The third implication relates to an area which the Church has struggled with for most of its history. It has to do with our relationship to the Jewish people.

A search in your computer Bible program or concordance will quickly show that the word ‘fathers’ (plural) is mainly used throughout the New Testament in a very particular way. From the 57 occurrences of “fathers” in the NKJV, for example, over fifty refer to the fathers of Israel. Thus, “the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers” (Acts 3:13); “your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness” (John 6:49); “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25). Altogether, some fifty New Testament passages relate to the Jewish people of Old Testament times. Paul declares concerning Israel, “of whom are the fathers’ (Romans 9:5).

That means Israel in all their generations – from Abraham to Moses to the prophets – are to be considered as our fathers. This is a traditional understanding which has characterised Israel for centuries, to such a degree that the Talmud titles a whole book Pirkei Avod which means “the sayings of the fathers.”

Now you might argue that this may be true for only the ‘good Israelites’, like Abraham, Moses, etc. But two New Testament passages are especially noteworthy. In the book of Acts, both Stephen and Paul face very hostile crowds that want to kill them. Both preach to these mobs before they attack. And both address them the same amazing way: “Brothers and fathers, listen…” (Acts 7:2; 22:1). This reminds us of what Paul also declared about Israel: that even though they might be enemies of the gospel, they are “still beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28).

Further, when we look at how the New Testament portrays the Church, we find that Jesus called his disciples “children” (e.g., John 21:5) and Paul and John both address the Church as “children” (Galatians 4:19; 1 John 2:1).

This means the relationship between the Church and the people of Israel can be viewed as one between fathers and children. The recent line of Catholic popes often refers to the Jewish people as “our elder brothers”. Nor would it be incorrect to call them our fathers. This is how the Apostles called them.

Christianity was born out of the covenant of God with Israel. All that defines our faith today was given to us by the Jews. Our Bible was written by Jews – Jewish patriarchs, prophets and apostles all pointing us to a Jewish Messiah, who in heaven is still called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”. That is why Jesus declared to the Samaritan woman that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

This means our relationship as the Church to Israel is as important as the relationship between fathers and children. Of course, the same is true the other way around. But it was mainly the Church which over the centuries dishonoured their fathers in many ways. It is time not only to repent but to show the “fruit of repentance”, as John the Baptist sought.

This Elijah ministry is an end-time ministry, and as such it means that no believer or church can ignore it in these last days. I believe the last-days Church, the Bride of Christ, cannot afford to ignore or side-line the family of Jesus, the Jewish people, any longer. The spirit of Elijah urges us to be in right relation with the fathers.

This relationship is unconditional and cannot depend on how good they are, if they believe like we want them to believe, or if the government in Israel is a perfect government. In the natural our fathers are not perfect, yet we are still commanded to honour them. The same applies to Israel. We must honour, love and bless them.

This spirit of Elijah will help us and teach us to be rightly connected with God’s people and to rightly relate to the Land of Israel which God promised to them through an eternal covenant. Otherwise, as Paul warns, we are endangering the very root of our existence – and that can be fatal (Romans 11:16ff). In light of the fifth commandment, we might forfeit the blessing that comes with honouring our father and mother.

The theme for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles is “Prepare the Way”, which has much to do with this Spirit of Elijah. It has to do with family and generational restoration. These are important to God because they are rooted in the very nature of God. He is our Father! And this fatherly concern is expressed most powerfully through the prophet Malachi:

“A son honours his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honour?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts…” (Malachi 1:6)

Honouring God as our father, honouring our natural fathers, reconnecting to the faith of our fathers, and honouring the fathers of our faith – this all has to do with reflecting God‘s character.

Let us together invite the Lord to release this Elijah anointing upon our lives and even nations. Please pray with us for the Feast of Tabernacles, that this word will be heard as a clear and loud shout around the world. Let us together ‘prepare the way’ of the Lord!      

If you would like to read "Prepare the Way – Part I" go to int.icej.org/news/special-reports/prepare-way

Register for the Feast of Tabernacles 2020 today!

Somebody to Lean On!

We all need somebody to lean on! This may sound like lyrics from a song, but these words ring true when you find yourself in a foreign country feeling completely overwhelmed by a different culture, especially if you barely know the language. Even simple tasks like making phone calls, reading a bill, or opening a bank account can suddenly become extremely challenging.

This is the case for so many new Jewish immigrants to Israel. Although the government provides some assistance to new arrivals, only a small percentage are taken to absorption centers which offer a softer landing. Having left family and friends behind, immigrants often feel alone and struggle to integrate into society. Many find their professional qualifications are not recognised in Israel. Needing to upgrade credentials or even change professions brings added stress to the job search – particularly for those still struggling to learn Hebrew.

Knowing these difficulties, the ICEJ is helping to sponsor four professional mentors across Israel who are currently counselling 55 immigrant families during their first years in the Land. “Appropriate assistance upon arrival can save families a lot of grief by helping them find opportunities and get on the right track from the start”, notes Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah.

Originally from South Africa, *Michael and *Leah and their two sons arrived in Israel in February 2019 and were sent to an absorption center in Beersheva. When we met them recently, they shared how their mentor had been a lifeline for them.

Settling their youngest son into school was very challenging. A quiet and introverted lad with few close friends, he suddenly found himself as the only English-speaking child in a Hebrew class filled with Russian-speaking immigrant children. The teacher also came from Russia and often gave explanations in Russian, so he missed out on learning and struggled to make friends. Before long, negative feelings about school and the family’s move to Israel began to creep in.

But when their mentor Lital came, she helped the family find a private Hebrew tutor. Soon, the son started making progress and friends, resulting in a much happier child. She also guided the eldest son through the bureaucracy of entering the army while also finding a temporary job.

In South Africa, the family could afford to live solely off Michael’s income, but in Israel this was not enough. With assistance, Leah also found work as an English teacher but soon lost it when Corona health rules shut down classes.

Lital told our AID team how complicated it is for new immigrants – especially during the Corona period. They already lack understanding on how to operate in the local culture, she explained, and once Corona hit any advances disappeared. They usually have no one to lean on, especially after leaving the absorption center.

“The truth is that the State doesn’t count immigrants now because there are so many other enormous and pressing needs”, Lital noted. “There is no specific help for them and their needs. Anyone working less than six months at their job when the crisis hit was laid off and are without an unemployment safety net to fall back on. Immigrants must put out a lot of effort to make it and it is not easy. You cannot just ignore the Corona crisis… it affects the whole integration process.”

Setting goals are an important part of the mentoring program, and despite some setbacks Michael and Leah are elated at each step of progress. Recently, they moved into their own apartment near other South African immigrants and are thrilled to have found a place in the neighbourhood they wanted. Leah described her relief to be there.

“We love being in Israel and are enjoying a new sense of freedom and security here. It is so wonderful to be able to walk home alone from the bus stop without fear”, she said.

Although they still have a long road ahead – learning Hebrew, finding the right job, getting settled in their new community – they are so grateful for the extra help and mentoring along the way, and look forward to exploring the country. Michael and Leah also added their warm thanks to all the Christian donors who made the mentoring program possible.

Meanwhile, *Dana is a 27-year old single mother to a four-year-old son with special needs. She made Aliyah from India as a teen with her parents, and now must live with them to make ends meet. In talking with her, another ICEJ-sponsored mentor discovered large gaps between Dana’s dreams for the future and her current situation. Together they set attainable financial goals, reviewed employment options, and explored her eligibility for other welfare benefits – such as a disability stipend for her son.

As a result, Dana has applied for public housing and rental assistance ahead of moving to her own place. Now an apartment search is underway, where the rent will be within her budget. Step-by-step, Dana is making a complete turn-around, reaching her goals and gaining self-confidence. Ready for a new chapter in her life, she also is overjoyed to have found a young man she hopes to marry soon.

The ICEJ is not only bringing Jewish people home to Israel, but also helping to plant them firmly in the Land – just as God promised to do (Jeremiah 32:41). Your giving ensures that newcomers like these are not alone, but have someone walking alongside them as they navigate the challenges of getting settled in Israel.

Please give today to the Aliyah and Absorption efforts of the ICEJ.

Donate Here: Immigrant assistance
 

[*Names have been changed to protect privacy.]

An Ethiopian Jewish family’s bittersweet reunion in Israel

This has been amazing year for the Aliyah efforts of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Despite the Corona pandemic, the ICEJ has sponsored flights for 1,350 Jewish immigrants to come home to Israel so far in 2020. And Christians around the world are responding to our ‘Rescue250’ challenge to help us maintain the current pace of bringing at least 250 Jews on flights to Israel each month until the Corona threat subsides.

This is a prophetic and humanitarian mission. The flights we have sponsored have brought Jews from the main sources of Aliyah this year – Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Ethiopia. Many of these Jewish families have faced very difficult conditions and were desperate to reach Israel. One Ethiopian family has recently gone through a heart-rending journey on their way to the Jewish homeland.

Kasia Workanech, along with her husband and two small children, were among the 119 olim who arrived from Ethiopia in May on a specially chartered Aliyah flight arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the ICEJ. The Christian Embassy has been sponsoring the Ethiopian aliyah flights over recent years, bringing home nearly 2,000 members of this ancient Israelite community since the government decided to bring the last remnant in 2015. Some have waited years and even decades for their turn to reach Israel and be reunited with family already here. The Coronavirus crisis has only added to their ordeal, but for Kasia and her family this has been an especially bittersweet time of both great sadness and joy.

The sadness comes from the fact that Kasia’s mother was finally approved to board a plane for Israel last year but fell ill and passed away a few days short of her flight. The joy arises because Kasia has finally been reunited with her five brothers and sisters already living in Israel.

Kasia’s mother was meant to make Aliyah with her four unmarried children in February 2019. At that time, Kasia and her family planned to soon follow her mother to Israel. This would have ended many years of the family being separated from their eldest sister who was already in Israel. But tragedy struck just before their flight last year, as their mother became gravely ill. The Jewish Agency did its best to move up the date of her flight, but regrettably she died just a few days short of takeoff. Her four unmarried children boarded the homecoming flight in clothes of mourning, without their mother.

This left only Kasia in Ethiopia with her husband and two small children. Her relatives in Israel were constantly praying for their arrival. Then came the Coronavirus outbreak, which has hit hard in Ethiopia. Hopes of seeing their sister faded day by day. But the door of Aliyah miraculously opened once more, and in May they got the news that Kasia would be coming home to Israel.

Upon their arrival, Kasia and her family spent two weeks in quarantine in northern Israel, and then were taken south to an absorption center in Beersheva. This also happened to be the facility where her siblings have been staying since they landed last year. As Kasia entered the gates of the absorption center, she was welcomed and embraced with tears of joy by her siblings.

“I truly did not expect that this Aliyah flight could be arranged during Corona. I was so surprised”, said Getanech, her oldest brother. “Once we knew this miracle would happen, we counted each day until Kasia’s arrival.”

The apartment assigned to Kasia and her family was on the same floor as her brothers and sisters, and Getanech said they were cleaning and preparing it every day for their sister’s arrival.

The family’s joyous reunion was still tempered by the absence of their mother, but they were comforted knowing her greatest wish was that all her children would make it to the Promised Land.

“Our mother always said her dream was for us all to be together in Israel. Unfortunately, she did not live to experience this dream with us. But now, thanks to her, we are all here, together”, said Getanech. “I am sure she is looking down at us from heaven, and is so very happy.”

There are more Jewish families like Kasia’s awaiting the chance to be reunited with the Jewish people in their ancient homeland. The Corona crisis has not stopped the Aliyah, but it has made life much for difficult for many, and the answer is helping them reach Israel.

Please join our special ‘Rescue250’ campaign by helping us bring at least 250 more Jews to Israel this month. You can reserve a place on an Aliyah rescue flight for a deserving Jewish person or family in need.

Book a seat today, and follow our progress in this urgent Rescue250 campaign! Go to: on.icej.org/rescue250

  

Timely help for aspiring Ethiopian Jewish students

When online studies suddenly became a forced reality this year, many Israeli students without computers quickly found themselves at a disadvantage.

Devorah, an English teacher at the Hebrew University preparatory program, promptly noticed that several of her students were unable to participate in remote lectures, as they did not have computers at home. The one-year program prepares aspiring students for university studies, and many come from Ethiopian Jews immigrant families who have found the program very helpful in opening new opportunities for them. By successfully completing a degree, they hope to have a profession which will provide for them and their families in the future. However, as anyone who has completed a university degree knows, these goals are difficult to achieve without a computer.

It happened that Devorah had favourable memories of working with the ICEJ from her previous employment over a decade ago, which prompted her to come back to the Christian Embassy for help. Our AID team heard her heart and quickly committed to providing computers for her three students in need – Eden, Meital and Rachel.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, recently had an amazing encounter with these young students, who shared about their dreams and aspirations, as well as their family backgrounds. Nicole also had the chance to explain why Christians love and support Israel and the Jewish people.

Eden has always known her future lies in serving in the medical field, and even though there is a long road ahead in studying dentistry, she is not dismayed. Born in Ethiopia, her family immigrated to Israel when she was two years old. In their conversation, Nicole was delighted to discover that Eden’s grandmother made Aliyah last year and realised the flight was sponsored by the ICEJ. She met her grandmother for the first time that day. Eden was grateful for that moment and for her laptop as well, saying, “Thank you so much. It is a very significant gift that you have given – one which will make a big difference in our studies.”

Meital, 19, was born in Israel, the fifth child in a family of ten children. Taking one step at a time, she is still deciding whether to complete a degree in mechanical engineering or chemical engineering. She will earn her degree as part of her military service, then serve in the IDF for six years using her expertise to benefit the country, while gaining practical experience that should pave the way for a good job.

A nursing student, Rachel recently had the opportunity to gain practical training in a psychiatric hospital. This experience anchored her decision to pursue nursing as a profession. She also realised the importance of listening to the people in her care and supporting them. Her family made Aliyah from Ethiopia in 1998, but they still are waiting for her uncle and his family to be approved to come home to Israel. Chances are they will come on an ICEJ sponsored Aliyah flight as well.

“It was such a joy to meet these dedicated students, to hear their dreams, and to do something towards helping them realise those dreams”, Nicole remarked afterwards. “Proper assistance given at the right time can make all the difference!”

Immigrants, minorities, the young, the elderly, and so many more are in need of our help to overcome the widespread impact of the Corona crisis. 

Your generous giving enables us to help Israelis like these build a brighter future. Please make a donation today!

Give today at: icej.org/crisis
 

Serving Meals That Make a Difference

Hineni, a community kitchen in the center of Jerusalem, offers hot daily meals for the elderly and poor, serving hundreds of needy recipients every day, both on-site and through home deliveries. (The name Hineni comes from the Hebrew word for “Here am I”).

Normally, this social outreach restaurant has a small full-time staff of a couple managers and cooks, and they rely on foreign Christian volunteers to come in from abroad and assist with preparing and serving the meals. Many of their volunteers are Dutch Christians, who faithfully serve at different times of the year in Jerusalem.

But the Coronavirus lockdowns and travels bans have prevented some of the regular staff from getting to work, while the foreign Christian volunteers have been unable to reach Israel to serve their time at Hineni. Without the normal staff and these Christian helpers, the kitchen would have to close down, and hundreds would be without food. This is where the staff of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem comes in!

Over recent months, the ICEJ staff have been rotating in to serve each day at Hineni and keep it open to feed the hungry and unfortunate, including a number of Holocaust survivors. Each day, at least three or four Embassy staffers are on-site, cutting vegetables, scooping up plates of food, and packing meals for home delivery. Even during the strictest lockdowns, the ICEJ staff were still considered essential workers and could come serve and package meals.

Benjamin Philip, the founder and director of Hineni, has been thrilled and relieved by the help of the ICEJ.

“Truthfully, I must say that you have been sent by God. I cannot say it differently,” he recently stated. “At the time when Corona started, we would have had to close down because our own workers and regular volunteers were unable to help due to various reasons. But the ICEJ came every day, which allowed us to stay open and continue to provide Israelis in need with daily help even in remote areas.”

“Hineni works closely with the Jerusalem social welfare department to provide hot meals and daily necessities to those in need,” Benjamin added. “Without the help of the ICEJ, it would have been literally impossible to do.”

Ryan Tsuen, the ICEJ’s graphic designer, has been excited to serve the Lord here in Jerusalem in this different way.

“For myself, the opportunity to volunteer with Hineni was an immediate Yes!,” said Ryan. “Back in Canada, I volunteered with a small charity which also served meals to those in need. We saw the immediate impact of providing food to those living below the welfare margin. So, when the chance to do something like that here in Jerusalem came up, I did not hesitate.”

“I realize the need for a nutritious meal, and Hineni does not disappoint,” he added. “They provide take-away trays as well as a sit-down meals for their patrons. Seeing the different ones come in is very special, because we don’t know the details of their background, or their challenges, but we know we are called to love others as Christ loves us. And when given the opportunity to love through this act of service, what more can you ask for?”

Irene Sands, housing manager for the ICEJ staff, is also grateful for this unique opportunity to serve the needy in Jerusalem.

“It has been special over the past few weeks to serve at Hineni,” said Irene. “Our work includes cutting vegetables and the ‘hugest’ sweet potatoes I have ever seen, packing boxed lunches for delivery, serving meals and helping to clean the venue afterwards. It has been refreshing and enlightening, working with the staff there and it is wonderful to see Jews, Christians and even their Arab Muslim cooks working together in unity.”

“It is always a blessing to serve those less fortunate than ourselves, and it warms my heart to see a smile appear from offering them more soup or pouring their water for them. As Mother Theresa said: ‘It’s the small acts of kindness that echo into eternity’. To treat them with dignity and to show love, is so important.”

Irene also noted: “I have enjoyed working with other ICEJ staff members who I do not usually work with that much, learning more about their lives and discussing their latest activities, all while dishing up food! It can be more physically trying than office work, but great teamwork helps.”

She added: “I want to say a word of thanks to the ICEJ’s supporters worldwide for enabling our staff to have this special opportunity at this unique time. I am most grateful.”

Indeed, it is such a blessing for the ICEJ to be the hands and feet of our Christian supporters here in Israel. Thanks to you, we are able to answer the Lord: “Here am I.”

Please consider a generous gift to the ongoing social aid work of the ICEJ during this time of the Corona crisis.

A lifelong journey to Israel

Thanks to the generosity of Christians worldwide, we made it! In the month of July, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem brought 283 Jewish immigrants on Aliyah flights to Israel. This means we were able to meet the challenge last month in our ‘Rescue250’ campaign of funding evacuation flights for at least 250 Jews each month while Coronavirus is still impacting the world.

With all the negative reports associated with Corona, it is exciting to share such good news! And in fact, over the past five months the Christian Embassy has managed to bring 1,349 Jewish immigrants on flights to Israel arranged through the Jewish Agency.

We also would like to share with you the touching story of the Mashevskaya family, who came to Israel recently on one of the ICEJ’s Aliyah flights. After Lera Mashevskaya, her husband Ivan, and their three children (Slavik, Adrian and Alice) made Aliyah, they stayed in a special quarantine hotel for two weeks. This gave them time to reflect on the long journey which took them through a family crisis and into their new beginning here in Israel.

When Lera was 13 years old, she went to a Jewish Agency summer camp for Jewish youths in Russia. It was there that for the first time Lera felt like she was really Jewish, and started learning about the history and traditions of her people.

At that moment, a burning desire was kindled in Lera’s heart to go to Israel. But her mother was totally against it. It would take another thirteen years for her dream to start coming true. Her first visit to Israel happened as part of a ten-day Taglit (Birthright) tour of Israel granted to young Diaspora Jews.

“At the time, I had already met my husband Ivan. We soon became the parents of our first son – Slavik”, recounted Lera. “I passionately wanted to make Aliyah, but Ivan would have nothing of it.”

The next time Lera came to Israel was on her 29th birthday. By this time, she and Ivan had two children. But Ivan still had reservations about moving to Israel. Deeply torn but sensing an unmistakable draw to Israel, Lera left the two young ones with her husband and mother, and came for another visit.

“It was very hard, but I wanted to give Israel a real try, on my own”, she confided. “I had a deep love in my heart for this country and longed to move here.”

Lera spent four months in Israel as part of the MASA program which helps young Jews abroad come to Israel to further their university studies. She used the opportunity to receive training in a new profession and was certified as a personal life coach. The skills Lera learned were in high demand back in Russia, and with this new education the family’s circumstances changed.

“Nearly all of my MASA classmates made Aliyah, taking on new Hebrew names and starting to build new lives in the Jewish homeland”, said Lera. “I, on the other hand, had to return to my family in snowy Moscow. But I went to work as a coach in an international company, thanks to my MASA degree. And because of this turn for the better, my husband began to see Israel differently.”

Then in the spring of 2019, with Lera six-months pregnant with her third child, the whole family came to Israel as tourists.

“I showed them my favorite places in my beloved country”, said Lera. “For two weeks, we drove from Acre to Eilat, dipped our legs in the Dead Sea, visited Jerusalem and prayed at the Kotel, and danced on the beaches of Tel Aviv. During this trip, my husband began to really like Israel, but he still was not ready to leave Moscow.”

But finally this spring, the Coronavirus pandemic changed his mind.

“My husband started working online, without visiting the office. Our family spent all our days together, our relationships grew closer and closer”, Lera explained. “My husband realized that he could do his work from anywhere in the world and he agreed to make Aliyah. Finally, my dream came true – on June 16 we flew to Israel!”

Lera and Ivan have come a long way as a couple and now want to help others overcome their differences. So they created the “Family Coaching Project” to coach other couples. Even during their two weeks of quarantine after arriving in Israel, they were counseling other immigrant families in the quarantine hotel.

“We so want to become a family that will be useful for this State and its wonderful people. In response to the love and care that we received, I want to love, give and care for others in response three times over”, Lera concluded.

We are so glad that through the ICEJ, Christians have played a central role in changing the lives of so many Jewish immigrants to Israel – like Lera and her family. And with August now upon us, we want to challenge you once again to partner with us in bringing at least 250 more Jews to Israel this month. You can reserve a place on an Aliyah rescue flight for a Jewish person or family in need.

This is a prophetic and humanitarian mission, and you can help keep the door of Aliyah open even amid the Corona crisis.

Book a seat today for a Jewish family in need of our help! And follow our progress in this urgent Rescue250 campaign! Go to: on.icej.org/rescue250

  

Learning is a click away

All of our lives have been disrupted in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic, including a whole generation of children forced to learn remotely from home. But for children of disadvantaged families in Ma’ale Adumim, located just east of Jerusalem, this disruption was felt even more when their school closed during the nationwide lockdowns here in Israel. These children suddenly found themselves experiencing the stress of being unable to attend classes, as their families had no computers at home. Thus they were falling behind their classmates, who were able to continue their studies online.

The Israeli Ministry of Education embarked upon a project, “A Computer for Every Child”, to ensure that all children had access to a computer at home. However, to participate in the project, each municipality has had to contribute towards purchasing computers for disadvantaged families in their town, with each family also making a modest contribution towards the cost.

The city of Ma’ale Adumim identified 75 families who qualified for the program. Many of these families are immigrant and single-parent households who generally find it difficult to pay even the most minimal costs of school books and after-school activities, let alone purchasing a computer.

In addition, the town budget for Ma’ale Adumim is already stretched with the many challenges of the Corona crisis. Although the computers were offered at a special discounted price, assistance was required for the project to get underway. So they approached the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for help, and we quickly agreed to purchase computers for 69 families.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah, presented the computers to students at a ceremony last week hosted by Mayor Benny Kashriel. Expressing his gratitude, Mayor Kashriel thanked the ICEJ and our donors worldwide for extending a hand of friendship in this time of difficulty, not only by giving these computers but also by providing hot meals to many elderly residents in his town over recent months.

Unfortunately, due to Coronavirus restrictions which limit gatherings outside to 20 people, only three of the 69 families receiving computers could attend the ceremony, with the remainder receiving the computers the following week.

*Ayala, an Ethiopian Israeli mother, was so thankful and said that she has “no words to express what a tremendous help this is for them.”

Meanwhile *Meital, a single mother of three, shared how providing for her children alone is so difficult, and that there was no way that she could have purchased this computer. Her daughter, *Batya, also eagerly expressed that there are many things that she would like to learn on the computer, including English, and did not think it would be too difficult to learn how to use it.

Each family receiving a computer will also receive an internet connection, have a technician to install the computer, and receive basic instructions on how to use it. Soon, a whole new world of opportunity will be within their reach.

Nicole Yoder shared at the ceremony how inspired she is to see how the people of Israel, from medical professionals to ordinary citizens, are using their knowledge, talent and energy to help others in a myriad of ways during the COVID-19 threat. “Giving these computers is one way that Christians can do our part to help in this crisis, by allowing young people to continue their studies in these challenging times”, she said.

Thank you for easing the economic stress on these families and for investing in the future of Israel!

(*Real names have been changed.)

Please donate today to the ICEJ to help other needy families in Israel get through the current crisis.
Give today at:
icej.org/crisis
 

 

A Daughter of Israel Finally Comes Home

The ICEJ is excited to report that we have reached our goal for the month of July in the ‘Rescue250’ campaign! As of Monday (27/07/20), the ICEJ has brought well over 250 Jewish immigrants on Aliyah “rescue flights” this month, thanks to the faithful and generous support of Christians around the world. This is a prophetic and humanitarian mission, and we are amazed that the door of Aliyah has remained opened despite the grounding of flights worldwide due to Corona.

The Rescue250 campaign is a challenge to Christian supporters of Israel around the globe to partner with the ICEJ in keeping up our current pace of flying at least 250 Jews per month home to Israel while the Coronavirus pandemic is still impacting the world.

Last week, one of the three rescue flights sponsored by ICEJ brought Nina Akselrud and her son to Israel. Nina's arrival meant a family reunion after 30 years of separation. Her parents and younger brother made Aliyah in 1991. Nina was a young girl who made the difficult decision to stay in Russia instead of following her family to Israel. “Now I think that it was a big mistake and I should have gone”, Nina said this week.

The history of her family is closely connected to the history of Jews in Russia, including the sad moments like pogroms and wars.

“I always felt myself as a part of the Jewish people thanks to my relatives, grandparents, and their stories about our family”, Nina explained. “All Jews are special, unique people to me, part of my family and my future.”

Even though Nina’s father and brother had been trying to persuade her to make Aliyah for many years, she went her own long way. But in the end, she clearly realized that Israel is the country where she whole-heartedly belongs.

“There were a number of things in my life and in my birth country that influenced my decision to come live in Israel”, said Nina. “In 2018, I started to work in public media. And I began to read and write a lot about the news in my birth country. I looked from a new perspective on the economic and political situation in the country. I believe that a person can choose where to live. And I am very glad that my son and I have the opportunity to now live in Israel”, she stated.

By the time Nina made the decision to move to Israel, she faced being misunderstood by her friends.

“My friends said that I am crazy for wanting to go [to Israel]. Many of them said that I will have to overcome many difficulties while starting a new life”, she shared. “But I'm ready for that. I told them I want to have more opportunities for myself and my son. I want to live in a democratic state.”

In her heart, Nina already has a sense of admiration for this small but very courageous country, with its ancient history and bright prospects for development.

It is amazing to witness how many of these Jewish people who make Aliyah are thinking not only about how to improve their own lives, but also about what they can do to strengthen and build their new nation.

“I want to be there and be useful to this Land. I hope that I will succeed”, Nina confided. “I am sure that a happy future waits for me and my son in Israel”, she concluded.

Nina then added: “I was amazed when I learned that Christians who love Israel supported my Aliyah. Indeed, it is the time of miracles!”

The Christian Embassy welcomed another 49 Jewish immigrants on a pair of Aliyah flights on Monday and Tuesday of this week, pushing our total for July up to almost 300 olim brought on Aliyah rescue flights this month. But with August now here, it is time to start the challenge over again and ask for your help in bringing at least 250 more Jews to Israel this coming month. You can reserve a place on an Aliyah rescue flight for a deserving Jewish person or family in need.

Together, let us continue to play our key role in the great, prophetic Ingathering of Israel even during this most unusual season of the Corona virus.

 

Book a seat today and follow our progress in this urgent Rescue250 campaign! Go to: on.icej.org/rescue250

  

I am finally planting roots for my family in Israel

Over recent months, the ICEJ has sponsored special ‘evacuation flights’ every week bringing Jews on Aliyah to Israel, despite the Corona crisis. There are three such Aliyah flights coming this week alone, all arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the Christian Embassy. This includes 35 Russian Jews who landed on Monday, another 65 who will arrive today (Tuesday), and 34 Ethiopian Jews scheduled to come on Thursday. With the latest cancellations of most regular flights into Israel, these are about the only flights currently arriving at Ben-Gurion airport, which only adds to the miracle now taking place thanks to our faithful supporters.

Each Jewish olim (newcomer) on board these flights has their own family history and unique life stories on how they came to make Aliyah, but all are united by the sense of joy and expectation concerning their new home in Israel. Last week, the Klokov family arrived from the Far East as part of a group of 61 new Jewish immigrants from all across Russia who came on a rescue flight funded by the Christian Embassy. Eugene Klokov came with his wife and two children, and he shared his fascinating story with us.

Eugene was born in 1987, in the city of Khabarovsk, in far eastern regions of Russia. All his life, he knew about his Jewish identity and wanted to explore it further.

“I was fascinated by this and for many years I have worked on re-creating my family tree,” said Eugene. “I was very interested to know who my distant ancestors were. I collected the information bit by bit. Sometimes, I just got on a plane and flew to relatives across the former Soviet Union whom I had never seen.”

Most of his relatives lived in small Jewish communities. And for them, Eugene became a hope – a hope that the family history would not vanish without a trace, but will be passed on to the next generation.

Eugene’s grandparents were from Crimea and the Ukraine. But after graduating from university, they were moved to the Far East to work by the Soviet state, which wanted to ‘populate’ the vast, empty region. Soviet officials said it would be “for just a few years.”

“It wasn't surprising that they were sent east,” said Eugene. “The central government didn't want Jews anywhere near the center of the country.”

The system was set up so that after five mandatory years of work, the Soviets offered his grandparents a small promotion if they stayed a few more years, and so on and so forth.

“My grandfather and grandmother lived all their lives with the thought that they would move the next year,” he explained. “They lived with packed suitcases, they didn’t buy new furniture, they literally limited themselves in everything. Yet eventually, they never left.”

“Maybe it is no coincidence that my grandparents never grew roots in Russia. Maybe it is no coincidence that I am here now, of all times, during a pandemic, finally planting roots for my family in Israel,” Eugene confided.

From an early age, Eugene passionately studied the history of Israel, which he viewed as inextricably linked with his family history. Once, Eugene was able to take part in a Taglit (Birthright) tour of Israel. During a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, he was shocked to find information about his relatives murdered in the Holocaust, including children as young as four years old.

“I felt a chill come over me when I looked at these photos and records of eyewitness testimony. And when I held in my hands these old documents, I felt very strong feelings. A huge desire arose within me to do something for the Land of Israel,” said Eugene. But he quickly adds that this was not his only reason for making Aliyah.

“I wanted to show my children a different life, I wanted a different future for them. Education, medicine, and the caring attitude of the government towards its people made me feel Israel can be my home,” said Eugene.

After making Aliyah last week, Eugene is filled with great expectations. He wants to start a new business in construction.

“I believe that our life consists of actions,” he insists. “We can make history today, here and now!”

“I would be extremely happy if my children appreciate what I am doing, that I moved from a distant town in Russia to the center of the world, to the country that was waiting for me,” Eugene concluded.

Indeed, the Klokov family started their Aliyah journey home nearly a century ago and thousands of miles away from even their old home. Now they are finally home, in Israel.

 

Please help us bring more Jewish families like the Klokovs home to Israel. It is still possible thanks to the ‘evacuation flights’ the ICEJ is now sponsoring. We have brought over 1250 Jews to Israel over the past five months of the Corona crisis. And to build on this remarkable achievement, we are now calling on our Christian friends and supporters worldwide to join us in helping more Jews reach Israel safely through our “Rescue250” campaign.

 

The Rescue250 campaign is a challenge to Christian supporters of Israel around the globe to partner with the ICEJ is keeping up our current pace of flying at least 250 Jews per month home to Israel while the Coronavirus pandemic is still severely impacting the world. This is both a prophetic mandate and a humanitarian mission, and we welcome your involvement in making this miracle happen.

Learn more on how you can be a part of this urgent campaign at: on.icej.org/rescue250

  

A Day With the Druze

With an early start to a sunshine-filled day, there was much excitement as the ICEJ staff set out from Jerusalem one morning in early June to visit the Druze community of Hurfeish, just four kilometers from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

A close-knit, Arabic-speaking minority, the Israeli Druze mostly live in small towns nestled in the Carmel range, Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. While their unique cultural and religious practices differentiate them from other Israeli Arabs, they especially stand out due to their steadfast loyalty as Israeli citizens who serve honorably and with pride in the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

Some 250,000 Israelis live within nine kilometers of the Lebanese border in a hilly, pastoral area that belies underlying tensions. Stick around for a while, though, and one is likely to experience a disruption of that deceptive tranquility – a fact underlined by the recent IDF discovery of six underground tunnels which Hizbullah terrorists intended to use to infiltrate Israeli border communities.

Unfortunately, a severe shortage of adequate bomb shelters along the border means that communities there are ill-prepared for Hizbullah rocket attacks. This is a reality that authorities are working to correct and the ICEJ, due to the generosity of our German supporters, will soon deliver two portable shelters to the Hurfeish Cultural Center – a focus of Druze youth activity and community life.

However, those living in the northern periphery far from the economic center of the country face other challenges as well. High rates of unemployment or under-employment as well as a lack of urban development create barriers to economic growth for both individuals and communities. Investment in education is essential to improve opportunities for women and young people.

To address these needs, the ICEJ is enriching Druze schools in partnership with local leaders by providing such things as computer labs, upgrading libraries, or adding a music room. Our most recent project includes sponsoring an Aviators Program that works in conjunction with the Israeli Air Force and the Ilan Ramon Centre. Currently two Druze schools participate in this program, which aims to develop positive social and ethical leadership among youth, setting a foundation for responsible citizenship.

Mentors encourage young people to dream big, then motivate them to achieve success by accomplishing small goals one step at a time. One highlight of the program is interaction with Israeli air force pilots, who act as role-models and meet monthly with the youth to inspire them towards excellence at school and in all they do.

A local English teacher confided that she wished her own children were able to be in this program. “We’ve seen such amazing change and progress in the children participating that we couldn’t believe it”, she said. “We’re hoping to expand to all schools in the Druze sector.”

The ICEJ staff outing then took us to Misgav Am, which provides a high vantage point for looking over the border into southern Lebanon. Afterwards, we tasted warm Druze hospitality while harvesting ripe-red cherries at an orchard in the Golan, followed by a satisfying Mediterranean-style dinner in Kfar Buq’ata, a Druze village near the foot of Mt. Hermon. Before travelling back to Jerusalem, our host, Mofid Aamer, shared about his 28 years of service in the IDF Special Units and his passion for education to help the next generation achieve a better future. We share his passion to strengthen Israel and know that lifting up all her people is key to realizing it.

Your generous giving enables us to provide a future and a hope to the next generation in Israel.

Please donate to the ICEJ today!

 

Share this: