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August 2010

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Rumors of War 

By Gary Alley

As the long, hot summer slowly drags through Israel, one is painfully reminded of the heat of battle and the undesired results of war.  For in the ancient days, with the beginning of spring/summer when the rains stopped—this was the time when kings went off to war (I Chr 20:1/II Sam 11:1). 

This has proven true into the last century with the modern state of Israel.  The months of May and June are celebrated within Israel for the victories of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 and the Six Day War of 1967.  On the other hand, June is also a stark reminder of Israel’s unresolved stalemates with Lebanon, first during 1982-2000 and then in 2006.  Due to that indecisive outcome of 2006, many expect a future significant confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon, especially as a nuclear-obsessed Iran spreads its growing sphere of influence among Israel’s enemies.

This past July, we observed the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av, first by the Babylonians in 586 BC and later by the Romans in AD 70.  Jesus himself did not long for this day of war but wept for the pregnant women, nursing mothers, and helpless infants (Luke 19:41-44; 21:23).  He did not claim to know the exact time of the Apocalypse, though He pointed to its signs (Matt 24).

As followers of Jesus, we are not commanded to spread rumors of war or stoke the coals of conflict.  Rather, we are instructed to love our neighbors even if they are our enemies.  We are to be peacemakers, lovers of truth, and defenders of justice.  Destructive wars will most assuredly and unexpectedly come.  Our witness to the world is how we confront this chaos with steadfast love.

Charity Report

SOS...SOS...Hope for Bethlehem’s Orphans

By Liz Kopp
children

It never ceases to amaze me every time I enter the orphanage in Bethlehem.  When visiting, I often think I am there to share a bit of my time and affection, but rather, it is I that is showered with unconditional love emanating from every little child on the premise.  One can feel the genuine joy exuding from their happy little faces because someone from outside has taken the time to sit with them, chat, drink tea, and absorb a bit of their lives inside the SOS Children’s Village.

I took a group of young friends to join in the annual bazaar put on by the SOS Children’s Village orphanage and the SOS “graduates”—those who have moved on into adulthood to create their own lives outside the Village.  With JCF’s help, these graduates have been enabled to set up their own tax exempt organization, Children’s Village Graduates Association, which reaches out to poor and disenfranchised families in Bethlehem and the surrounding villages with medicine, staples, and educational assistance.  The annual bazaar was one example of the caring spirit that defines who these SOS alumni are.  They bused in several hundred children and families of lesser means to enjoy the event’s activities, which included music, food, national dances, a clown, and face painting.

My accompanying young friends jumped right into the venue with their painting materials decorating each and everyone wanting to add a little extra color and pizzaz to their countenance.  It did not take much for me to be convinced that my face should be painted to match the animal print of my blouse to the amusement of the crowd.   By the time we bid our farewell at the end of the day, we had long forgotten that our faces still bore the evidence of the day’s recreation, until we reached the border separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem.  The Israeli soldiers were unable to squelch their laughter as they waved us on through the checkpoint .liz

 

Charity Report

My Neighbor, Avi

By Margret Buth

mushAvi is our neighbor right beneath us in our apartment complex here in Abu Gosh.  He is a Kurdish Jew who was born in northern Iraq and immigrated to Israel with his parents when he was eight years old.  Hebrew and Arabic are both his languages, making Abu Gosh a good fit for his background.

For the past three years, we have lived through many ordeals together, from financial crises to health isssues.  Although Avi and his wife, Sheri, are secular Jews, many times our conversations have come back to God, and sometimes they have even let us pray with them.

As a neighbor, Avi wants to be a good friend.  Quite often we receive impromptu visits.  Our door opens, and there stands Avi with a steaming bowl or plate of very tasty Kurdish food.  In our shared yard, I grow flowers, Avi grows vegetables.  In his heart of hearts, Avi is a farmer and a cook.  He loves to follow fresh produce from the garden to the table, hunting wild mushrooms, stuffing grape leaves, and picking fresh herbs and spices.  Our shared picnic table down below in our front yard is usually covered with pits and peels from his latest culinary project. 

On one occasion Avi and his wife hosted a Passover meal in their small living room, inviting everyone from the building.  There we were—Jews, Christians and Muslims enjoying together that holy Passover eve.  Avi’s kindness extends to the Muslim families around us, even though he and Sheri, like Randy and I, are among the small minority of Jews and Christians in Abu Gosh.

Little by little, we have learned more of Avi’s story.  Once in our living room, at the mention of our recent visit to London, Avi broke down sobbing.  Years ago, Avi took his 16 year old son to London for life-saving, open heart surgery, but instead he returned home bereaved and bankrupt.  Avi has known the loss of many things in his life—his first marriage, his son, a secure job and income, and finally, his health.

Over the years, Avi has developed diabetes and lost most of his teeth.  Sheri is also a diabetic.  More recently Avi has suffered two small strokes.  It has been painful to watch him struggle to recover physically and emotionally.  Now in his late 60s, he has no savings to fall back on, and has not been able to find work since his strokes.  His garden tools and irrigation pipes lie piled up behind our apartment.  Last month, he came to us asking for a loan of 500 shekels to fix his car.  The good news is that with JCF’s help, he got his old car up and running and is still able to take Sheri to work, where she cares for children eight hours a day, six days a week.

I have a great burden for my Jewish and Muslim neighbors here in Israel to intimately know the Lord.  I’m literally down on my knees, daily weeding the yard and praying for them.


Announcement

Sharona Pong, JCF’s Financial Manager, gave birth to Adine Marie on July 22nd in Jerusalem.   Little Adine weighed 9 lbs and 14 ounces.  Proud father Will and brother Joshua looking on.  “Adine” is the Hebrew word for “gentle”.

pongs


Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • SOS Children’s Village and Alumni.  Provision and hope as they live in the difficult conditions of Bethlehem.
  • Avi and Sheri.  Personal encounter with God as they learn to trust Him for their needs.
  • Biblical Language Center’s Summer Hebrew Courses in Israel and Fresno successfully ended with participants coming from the United States, Canada, Kenya, England, Australia, and Germany.
  • Yoni Gerrish and his family are traveling through the United States till August 29th.
  • Israeli Traffic Accidents.  More people in Israel have died from traffic accidents than from all the wars and terrorist attacks combined.