Shalom from Jerusalem!
Well, Passover is just a couple of days away, and people are getting ready for the holiday all over town: bakeries and some restaurants are already cleaning out their shelves of any traces of leaven, down to the crumbs.
Matzah, Matzah Man!
Today when I left work I bumped into my Lubavich friend Avi*, who I have had an acquaintance with since I first got here. He was ‘giving away’ matza for a small donation, so I blessed him in the Name, and I smiled, pointed my finger at him and told him, “Avi, I want you to know that I love you, I love your country and your people—Atta v’ ani, chavarim (You and I, are friends) and your people are my people.” He smiled and thanked me and I wished him a Happy Passover. By the time I got home my matza was broken in my backpack, but, it still tastes as great as matza always tastes! 😛
Visiting David’s Mighty Men
Last week CFI’s David’s Shield director Jim McKenzie and I drove to an army base near Beer Sheva, where reservists were doing their semi-annual training. After the mandatory three-year military service for almost all Israelis (two-years for girls), Israeli citizens serve and train as reservists until the age of 40—and longer if they want to and are in fit enough condition. It is a fellowship of brotherhood that they very much seem to enjoy as they progress through life.
I must say Jim does an excellent job representing Believers from around the world by encouraging Israel’s armed forces personnel—contrasted with a world that almost always condemns anything they do.
One of the things Jim regularly says to Israel’s soldiers is, “For two thousand years there was no Israeli army to defend the Jewish people, but you are like David’s mighty men in the Bible—defending your country and your people from harm. We want you to know that there are people around the world who not only recognize the lies of the media, but who also support what you do for your country, and believe that not only are you doing the right thing, but the righteous thing.”
Friends, you should see the faces of these soldiers light up when they hear this—and they broke into applause several times during Jim’s brief talk.
Afterward the officers—really nice guys, by the way—toured us around and explained some of the training they are doing, especially with high tech (and high priced) surveillance equipment.
It is always a thrill to get to shake hands with these guys: it is especially interesting to observe the facial reactions when I say simple things like, “God bless you guys, may He watch over you and keep you safe,” and “We are praying for your safety.” They are very interested not only in where we are from, but why we come to Israel to do this, and why we care.
We want to demonstrate unconditional love toward Israel, and especially considering the hostility toward the Jewish people from the ‘Christian church’ down through the centuries, we hope to put a more ‘friendly face’ on Yeshua/Jesus as well.
Trouble on the Border?
You may have heard on the news that Hamas in Gaza is planning on launching a ‘massive civilian march’ to the border fence this Friday on Passover. (Obviously, considering the history of Passover, this is not the best time to start trouble with the Chosen People—but it seems some people never learn.)
Many of us understand that with what Israel has faced in the past with terrorism and suicide bombers, they simply cannot allow people to breach their security fences and approach them—even though the Palestinians may “appear” to be unarmed. To let one’s guard down for an instant in such a situation can prove to be deadly. This is obviously just one more attempt to provoke Israel to injuring or killing “helpless Palestinians.” Please pray for our young people’s safety in the IDF, as well as Palestinians whom Hamas may be forcing into a dangerous situation against their will.
Hope for the Future
This week I rode to Benei Brakah just outside Tel Aviv to cover some of what CFI is doing there. Marcia Brunson, CFI’s Hope for the Future coordinator which reaches out to the Ethiopian Jewish community, has several contacts around the country, including this one that is run by an Israeli woman who cares about the families and children whom Israel has brought home to the Land over the past 35 years.
While there, Marcia and Rachelli* planned some summer camp programs for the kids which will include educational curriculum as well as fun events. We also went to a local grocery store which is working with us to provide food vouchers for families in need. Thank you for your prayers and support of our work here in what is often not only economically depressed situations, but spiritually oppressive as well.
Some of you may remember Layel*. About 15 years ago she and two other Israeli high school students attended Hope of Israel regularly and thank G-d, some lasting friendships have been maintained over the years. At that time I was serving at the ‘Youth Guy’ for HOI, and these kids were my students and I have always felt like they were ‘my Israeli kids.’ Of course, they are grown now, have all been through the military and college since then, and are now in the work force dealing with the adult world and all life can throw at us.
I was able to finally catch up with Layel this week and we sat down for a quick bite to eat in Center City Jerusalem, where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic—Ben Yehuda Street area. It has been more than 10 years (wow) since those of us at HOI have seen her, the last time being when she went with a handful of us through the Western Wall tunnels. We came out at the end in the Muslim Quarter, where we were escorted back by a young security guard with an Uzi (Israeli sub-machine gun).
I’ll never forget our discussion about all of the troubles Israel was having with her enemies, and Layel’s sincerely asked question, “Why doesn’t God help us? Why doesn’t He help Israel?”
What do you say? I summed it up by telling her what the prophets say about Messiah’s first and second comings—that it will get worse before it gets better—that Yeshua is Israel’s only hope, and in the end He will be faithful to rescue His people. While we talked I also noticed that the security guard drew close to eavesdrop on our conversation, so I talked a little louder just to help him overhear us as well.
Layel is now an agnostic, and says she doesn’t believe there is a God, yet that all beliefs are valid. Though it is illogical and self defeating to say there is no objective truth and everybody has their own truth—it is like saying everybody has their own math—it really doesn’t work, but it is a popular notion. We had a spirited and challenging, but friendly conversation, and hopefully some things she will think about, with the promise that we will have lunch again soon.
Thank you for praying—a busy time is upon us!
We are very quickly approaching April, and in a little more than two weeks we will be celebrating Israel’s 70th Birthday with our annual conference, as well as a major influx of tourists that will prove to be an historic celebration here in the Land. Security will be at an all-time high I am sure, as we are receiving security warnings that trouble is being planned. So please be in prayer. Also, please pray for Israel’s young people serving in the IDF, the Border Police and the Municipal Police—they all have dangerous jobs and their uniforms make them targets for evildoers.
Again, thank you for your prayers, and for your support. And Chag Pesach Sameach mi Yerushalayim: Happy Passover, from Jerusalem!
*Names changed to protect individuals’ privacy.