God ordained that the Jews would be a blessing to the nations even at the outset of His call on their father Abraham. In Genesis 12:3 He stated that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the nations and that those who bless them would be blessed and those who curse (hate/insult or devalue them) would be cursed (cut off) by Him.
The fact that God chose the Jews as His unique nation/people and destined them to ultimately be a vehicle of world redemption, should give us much cause to deal in great tenderness and mercy towards these through whom our Saviour and Redeemer was birthed.
Our very life is indebted to a Jewish Saviour, who lived and died and will return to the exact same location in present day Israel, to bring about the eventual true peace we all long for!
How then does Paul ask us (who were far off and have now been brought near) to respond to them?
For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. –Romans 27:15
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s (ICEJ) very mandate from its inception in 1980 was to comfort these very people who have suffered much throughout the ages, sadly, often at the hands of the Church who owed their very existence and life to them!
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
— Isaiah 40 :1
It is interesting to note that “ministering” to them according to Paul in Romans refers to blessing them with the material blessings which we have received…a blessing we bestow if we understand the blessing we have received!
The challenges Israel faces in a number of areas has given many opportunities to Christians to live out Paul’s instructions.
The horrors of the Holocaust left many survivors without families and even destitute in their old age and the ICEJ has been honoured to play a part in the funding of nine Holocaust Survivor homes in the Haifa area which have cared for hundreds of survivors through the years.
Approximately one third of Israel’s approximately 193 800 Holocaust survivors are impoverished, struggling with illness, or living alone. In 2009, ICEJ began a partnership with a local charity to provide a home, especially for lonely survivors.
The Haifa Home continues to be a significant and vital project. It is a partnership in the true sense of the word, with a warm and trusting relationship existing between the Israeli staff, residents, volunteers, and the ICEJ.
The home is unique in many ways. Its purpose has evolved from merely supplying accommodation for Holocaust survivors, to providing a community in the real sense of the word.
Local survivors enjoy a warm welcome at the home for participation in various celebrations, activities and services. The Haifa Home is not only catering for its residents, but is also open to include other survivors living in the area in various activities.
By hearing about survivors in a more personal way, many Christians worldwide have been touched by this project. In turn their love and support has deeply touched the staff and residents. ICEJ is conscious both of the privilege of supporting Holocaust survivors, and that time is running out as survivors pass away at the rate of 13 000 each year.
Practical help on the ground where needed most!
The ICEJ recently ordered another 30 new portable bomb shelters which will be delivered in coming weeks to Israeli border communities which are especially vulnerable to rocket fire from Gaza and Lebanon, with an increased focus on protecting civilians in the northern Galilee and Haifa regions.
Christians, through the ICEJ have donated a total of 155 bomb shelters over the last 15 years to Israeli communities under rocket threat, with the majority (129) placed in towns along the Gaza periphery and the remaining 26 in the north. Most have been donated to schools, day-care centres, medical clinics, youth centres, community halls, college campuses, factories and other public places which cannot operate during times of crisis without adequate bomb shelters. (A State Comptroller report issued a warning last year that 2.6 million residents of northern Israel do not have access to functional bomb shelters)
The need for bomb shelters is most acute in the towns along the northern border with Lebanon, which are prone to shorter-range rockets that cannot be stopped by the Iron Dome system. This hilly, forested area contains a diverse mosaic of Jewish, Arab and Druze towns who desperately need better protection for their communities.
Over recent months, the ICEJ has received donations for these latest bomb shelters from Christians in dozens of countries, most notably from Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Fiji, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States.
“Many Israelis living along the Gaza border have told us that these mobile bomb shelters indeed save lives and give their families the peace of mind they need to continue their daily lives under the constant threat of rocket attacks,” said ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler. “We now want to focus more on the need for additional bomb shelters to protect civilians in the North.”
Last week in Israel was known as Aliyah Week, in celebration of all those who have come back to Israel since the nation’s inception.
The Israeli Knesset 2016 Aliyah Day Bill designates that Aliyah Day is marked on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan.
The seventh of Cheshvan was chosen due to its proximity to the Shabbat on which the “Lech Lecha” Torah portion is read, in which God commands Abraham to leave his home and go to the Land of Israel.
Aliyah to Israel has bounced back strongly in 2021 with 20 360 arriving in Israel to date, compared to 15598 during the corresponding period in 2020 — an increase of 31%.
According to the data, the largest source of aliyah this year has been Russia, with 5 075 immigrants arriving (which marks a 5% decrease from last year), and the US, with 3 104 — up 41% from the first nine months of 2020.
Meanwhile, 2 819 immigrants have come from France (a 55% increase), 2 123 from Ukraine (4% increase), 780 from Belarus (69% increase), 633 from Argentina (46% increase), 490 from the United Kingdom (20% increase), 438 from Brazil (4% increase), and 373 from South Africa (56% increase).
Finally, 1 589 have come from Ethiopia, compared with 285 immigrants the previous year thanks to Operation Zur Israel, led by the Jewish Agency and the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, which helped immigrants reunite with their families after decades of being apart.
The ICEJ was also blessed to bring more than 170 olim (immigrants) back home in the last 10 days. 69 flights for SELA (a programme whereby students come ahead of their parents to start their studies in Israel) students from Russian-speaking countries were sponsored last week. These participants in the SELA program, operated by the Jewish Agency, are some of the brightest, handpicked students, who will no doubt make positive contributions to Israel in the years ahead.
In addition, the Christians, through the ICEJ, funded aliyah flights for 50 members of a group of more than 250 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India who also arrived in Tel Aviv last Wednesday.
With these latest arrivals over the past 10 days, the ICEJ has now sponsored aliyah flights for 1 468 Jewish immigrants from more than a dozen countries so far in 2021, despite the constraints and challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is exciting to be engaged in sponsoring aliyah flights for over 150 Jewish immigrants during this special time of the year when Israel celebrates the great Ingathering of the Jewish people in modern times,” said Bühler. “Christians around the world join with Israel in marking the miraculous modern-day return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.”
Christians (through the ICEJ) have “ministered” to Israel and her people by funding over 160 000 Jews to come back home since 1980!
In Ezekiel 39:28, God gave a promise to His people: “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.”
What an honour to minister to our Jewish family in these significant ways in these days!
If you would like to find our more and how you can get involved: see www.icej.org.za or contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org@icej.org.za or myself 083 306 0009.
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