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A Bread of Brokenness

By GARY ALLEY

Next week begins Passover, an ancient biblical festival which commemorates the Lord’s redemption of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12).  Alongside Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread will be observed as well.  For seven days, Jews will only eat “matza”, a dry, salt-less, cracker-like bread containing no yeast.  Beyond the dietary restrictions, all forms of fermenting leaven must be removed from the premises of the Jewish people.  Houses are thoroughly cleaned and scoured.  Even now, here in Israel, stores are making preparations for removing all products that are suspected of having fermenting agents—from breakfast cereals to condiments. 

The Bible also calls this unleavened bread, “lehem oni” which is often translated as “bread of affliction (Dt 16:3).”  “Oni” (עני) is a Hebrew word which can have a range of meaning, encompassing poverty, need, weakness, and humility.  Here in the Bible, this bread is a symbol, a reminder of Israel’s skeleton in the closet—their Egyptian slavery.  For Christians, the unleavened bread recalls our former enslavement to sin.  When we forget the abyss from which we were rescued, all too quickly we can revel in our righteousness.  This bread, broken for us, pierced for our transgressions, and purified of wickedness, is a perpetual reminder of humility.

With the advent of Passover season, may we be reminded to search our hearts and remove any scent of smugness that could sour the freedom we proclaim to the world.  Let us walk humbly before our God.

Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Cor 5:6-8)

 

Charity Report:Your Gifts Helped these Individuals, Families, and Ministries during March 2014

JCF helped pay school tuition for the children of a Palestinian Christian family living in Jericho ($300), and for a Palestinian Christian woman studying in Bethlehem ($600).

Mandy is a 32 year old Israeli divorcee with a three year old and a two year old. Her ex-husband helps pay for the children’s daycare only.  Mandy was recently let go from her daycare job when it shutdown.  She currently works at a supermarket making $570 a month. JCF helped pay her overdue electric bill ($358).

Amy is a Palestinian Muslim orphan who had a miscarriage which required a surgical procedure. JCF helped cover the hospital fees ($500).

Geena is a single Israeli mother of two girls, one is still in school and the other in the army. Geena has no support from the father of her children nor from any other family members. Both her parents passed away recently and she has been suffering from depression. She is currently unemployed and lives off of $350 a month. She owed her landlord over $8000 and received an eviction notice. JCF repayed $744 towards her debt.  Since then, the eviction notice has been cancelled and she has made arrangements to make payments on the rest of the money owed.

House of Light (HOL) is an Israeli Arab Christian ministry led by Anis and Nawal Barhoum that provides spiritual and social aid to both Jewish and Arab residents. JCF specifically aids House of Light’s prison work, which visits and disciples current and former prisoners. In the future they hope to have a half way house to disciple former inmates who accepted the Lord while in prison.  JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Update from House of Light’s Prison Ministry:

“I envy you. I want to have what makes you so persistent and caring. You come to us with joy and enthusiasm as if we were the best people in the world.” G.

“Please come and pray with me. That's the only thing that could drive away my nightmares.” Sh.

“We could see a big difference in the life of Sh. after your visit. Please visit him more often.” Head Rabbi of the prison

By the Lord’s direction and the help of Nikolay, our Russian-speaking co-worker, as well as 15 other volunteers from different churches, this past Christmas we visited and ministered to more than 300 inmates, 170 illegal foreign workers, and 750 Eritreans & Sudanese. Some were already saved either before being arrested or at previous visits that we did. Others heard the message of salvation with joy and responded to it, yet for some, it wasn’t their time. According to them, they still need to settle things. Some even didn’t show at the “party”. We explained: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2).”

“By the time those prison visits were completed we knew that the time we spent with the inmates meant far more to them than our words.  It was a matter of being there, our presence was good news for the prisoners – good news that they were not forgotten, good news that someone cared about them.  Our visits were like a harbinger of hope – a ray of light breaking through the dreary drudge of their circumstances.  And in this we came to see in a new way the significance of how God communicated the good news of His love to bruised and broken humanity – it wasn’t just a message in words spoken or written on a page, it was a message in a person.  The love of the messenger was the message, God with us - Jesus entering the prison of the world to show humanity that God has not forgotten us and how much he cares for us, and that he is the only one that can deliver us from evil”.

Please continue praying for:

  • Our follow up visits during this year where both Anis and Nikolay try and strengthen those who have accepted the Lord.
  • The monthly support for those who have no families to care for them and are attending the year round bible study that we hold.
  • Peace amongst the Eritrean refugees. We could have visited around 2000 of them but not this year.  Riot is ruling in their detainee centers.
  • Post-prison Christian houses. This is becoming a big issue and we fail to find who to care for those who are free now. We have one ex-prisoner living with us now for three years but as we don’t have the team/staff to help care and pastor them, we cannot take more.
  • Follow up with the prisoners’ children and families. The Lord has blessed the House of Light and we would like to send some of their children to summer camps or swimming courses.

News in Israel

  • Peace Talks Falter.  US Secretary of State, John Kerry, left Israel this past week with a deadlock in peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  More 
  • Israel Nabs Tomb Raiders, displays 11 Second Temple period ossuaries which were stolen by the thieves. For photos and more details, here.
  • Gazan Rockets fell on Israel this past weekend.  As well, "over a two-day period in early March, dozens of rockets were fired at Israel. The attacks were claimed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, which said they were a retaliation for Israel’s killing of its operatives."  More.

JCF News: Study Hebrew or Greek this Summer in North Carolina

BLC Biblical Hebrew and Greek Summer Courses in North Carolina.  The Biblical Language Center will be offering four week courses at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina from June 22 to July 18, 2014.  The courses offered will be Beginning Biblical Hebrew: The Book of Jonah and Beginning Koine Greek: Select Gospel Stories and Parables.  For more information, write [email protected].

 

 

The Language Environment of First Century JudaeaCREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 95New book co-edited by the Biblical Language Center's Randall Buth on what languages were spoken in Judea and the Galilee during the time of Jesus.  For more information, here.

 

 

 

 

Join a JCF Israel Study Tour this Fall in 2014 

Have you always wanted to learn more about God's Word in its original context?  Have you dreamed about seeing the Holy Land in person?  This is your chance.  Check out all the groups and dates that you can join.  

  • Oct 28–Nov 12 - Wilderness with Petra

  • Nov 15-26 - In the Footsteps of Jesus

  • Nov 29–Dec 10 - Wilderness with Petra

For more information, here.

 

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • Syria—Over 140,000 people have died and nearly three million refugees have fled the country in the civil war. For a recent report on the suffering in Syria, here.
  • Dalia Gerrish, wife of JCF's Yoni Gerrish, "had her annual check-up and blood tests and she is cancer free."