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August 2011

Forgive U$ Our Debt

By Gary Alley

Since the advent of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the world’s nations now more than ever are being confronted with the symbiotic relationships they share with one another in the international community.  Pressures with trade agreements, currency valuation, and debt deals are challenging the integrity of some governments as they struggle with the reality of too many bills and not enough income.  Iceland became the first byword of bankruptcy with its international default in the aftermath of the October 2008 market crash.  Other countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain are also in hot water as the pot of bankruptcy threatens to boil over.  And now in the summer of 2011, the richest nation on earth—the United States—has become linked to rumors of potential sovereign default.

Making money, doing business, and trading goods have been a part of civilization for millennia.  For every successful entrepreneur or wealthy landowner in history, an unfortunate, ill-advised investor or impoverished serf has played the subjugated role of debtor.  Until the 1800’s, debtors’ prisons were common throughout Europe and the United States, where those who could not pay their debts were imprisoned until friends or families cleared their obligations.  In the ancient world of the Bible, debtors, including their children, could be enslaved for what they owed (2 Kgs 4:1).  While Scripture commanded the Israelites not to enslave each other, they could require a period of indentured servanthood till the Jubilee Year, when all debts were forgiven (Lev 25:39-40; See also Deu 15:1-2 with a similar command for the Year of Release).  Yet it is difficult to find the release of debtor-slaves truly practiced in the Bible (Jer 34:8-11).

The Hebrew that is used for announcing a debtor’s freedom in the Jubilee Year, “proclaim liberty (dror) throughout the land to all its inhabitants (Lev 25:10)” is also found in Isaiah’s encouragement to those returning from exile, “he has sent me...to proclaim freedom (dror) for the captives (61:1).”  When Jesus inaugurated his ministry by speaking at the Nazareth synagogue, he invoked Isa 61:1-2 as the essence of his vocation—to free “debtors”.  While forgiveness of financial obligations was at the core of the Old Testament’s Jubilee Year, the writers of the Gospels understood this Jubilee forgiveness with regard to the debt of sin.  Hence, Jesus proclaimed a Jubilee that offered forgiveness for those bankrupted by sin.  “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. (Acts 5:31)”

Out of Israel, Into Africa

By Gary Alley

Jerusalem Cornerstone will be bidding farewell to Dania and Wes Minor for a season, as they and their three children, Yasmin, Sean, and Gabe (pictured left to right) will be moving to Nairobi, Kenya this September as Wes becomes Administrator for Rosslyn Academy, an international Christian school.

Dania began serving as JCF’s Charity and Operations Manager in the summer of 2005.  For the past six years, she has been the public face of JCF’s charity fund amongst the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.  During her tenure, JCF honed its vision for charity to helping those individuals and communities that fall through the cracks of society.  In order to accomplish this goal, Dania networked with social workers, international, Jewish, and Arab believers, and local ministers to find those hard to reach, unpublicized cases.

Dania, along with her two sisters, was born in Jerusalem to Ray and Liz Pritz, American and Swiss Christians who have lived in Israel since the early 1970’s.  Dania attended Israeli schools, and after graduation served in the Israeli army within the Military Police branch.  She then studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan for a year, prior to completing a BA in Hebrew Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Wes and Dania met in Jerusalem when Wes came to Israel to visit friends.  They married in Israel in 1998 and have lived here for most of their marriage.  During 2002, Wes and Dania moved to eastern Congo, where Wes worked with World Relief for about a year doing infrastructure rehabilitation.  While Wes built physical bridges, Dania worked on reconciliation bridges as she served in south Sudan as a consultant for Christian Mission Aid, looking to incorporate peace-building elements into their existing programs.  

Dania’s background and life experience as a minority Christian within Israel’s Jewish-Palestinian cultures has given her a unique perspective and acclimated skills to greatly advance the work of JCF.  

As Dania sums up, “I think my favorite aspect of working at JCF has been knowing that we are able to reach out into any part of the many communities we are living amongst and we can make a small but immediate difference. I have seen how God has brought us those special cases over the years of the needy, helpless or oppressed, and JCF has been able to aid them in their time of need.”

JCF Study Tours

Capernaum, Hometown of Peter

Join Yoni Gerrish and the JCF staff on a tour in 2011 that investigates “The Backgrounds of Jesus’ World”.   See JCFtours.com for details.

The fishing village of Capernaum was a significant part of Jesus’ life.  Located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum was the home to at least two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and Andrew, and was a base for Jesus’ travels and ministry in the Galilee.  Here, Jesus restored Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever, raised up a paralytic after being lowered through a roof, cast out demons, and healed many of their sicknesses.  As in all towns, the synagogue was the central place for Jesus’ ministry of teaching and healing.  Today, the standing remains of Capernaum’s ancient synagogue are from 300-400 years after Jesus, while the original first century synagogue are believed to lie below.  Peter’s home is also conjectured to have been located near the synagogue by the finding of a 5th century church-like structure that was constructed on top of a first century home.

Charity Report

Your Gifts Helped these Individuals and Families during June and July 2011

Nahum is a believer originally from Ethiopia and Eritrea, though he has spent most of his life in Darfur, Sudan, before coming to Israel. Nahum was eligible to receive refugee status in Israel, but he had to fight all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, where he was finally granted legal status. Through his newly acquired work permit, Nahum has found work as a cleaner at a factory,  but has nothing else to his name.    

Dotan is a former member of the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA) that fought alongside Israel during the Lebanon War.  Dotan, a Lebanese Christian, is married and a father to five children aged two months to twelve years.  Recently, doctors discovered that Dotan is quite ill and will require long-term treatment and he will not be able to work.  Dotan and his family are in need of financial support during this interim period.

Alice, an Ethiopian Jewish believer from the Beit-El Congregation, is the mother of a six-month old baby girl. Both she and her husband clean houses for a living, however, her husband suffers from a couple of medical conditions which limit his ability to work. JCF helped purchase baby formula and diapers.

JCF helped a Christian Arab family with four children purchase a refrigerator when theirs suddenly died in the midst of the sweltering summer heat of Jericho.  Below is an excerpt from the mother’s thank you letter.

Thank you...my children were so happy and they knew that the help today was from you and the Lord was with us...I want to tell you one thing that happened when we went and picked up the refrigerator from the shop—I saw my husband crying.  This is the second time that I have seen him cry, once when his grandfather died and today picking up the refrigerator.  He is unable to thank you face to face but his prayers and his heart say to you thank you.  Thank you again, you really helped us to solve our problem.


Support was raised through JCF’s Isaiah 18 Fund to aid Sudanese refugees who began entering Israel in 2005 due to persecution in Sudan and Egypt.  With these funds, JCF is supporting the Olive Branch Institute which is training Sudanese refugees in English, Hebrew, computers, and construction.  Now, with the creation of the Republic of South Sudan this past July, these life skills will empower the refugees as they begin to return home to a hopeful future in a new, democratic country.

News: Biblical Language Center's Biblical Hebrew Summer Ulpan Concludes

Randall Buth (above) and staff—Aaron Hornkohl, Jordash Kiffiak, Jason Driesbach, and Brian Kvasnica—led the Biblical Language Center’s 14th annual Summer Biblical Hebrew Session in Israel.  Over six weeks, twenty-seven students from the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, and Canada took courses immersing themselves in the world of the biblical stories of Jonah, Ruth, Samson, Genesis 1-3, and selections from the Psalms.

 

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

Yoni Gerrish and Family found a new apartment in Jerusalem and moved at the end of July.

Randall Buth
and the Biblical Language Center are leading a Fluency Workshop for Koine Greek Instructors in Fresno, CA from Aug 3-11.

Gary, Sharon, and Sa’ar Alley
are traveling through the United States till Sept 21.  

Dania Minor
and Family are moving to Nairobi, Kenya on Sept 12.  

Eva Kopp
will replace Dania Minor as JCF’s Charity and Operations Manager beginning in September.

 

During October, Yoni Gerrish is guiding the Foursquare Church’s Global Leadership Training Network during their conference and visit to Israel. These leaders of the Foursquare denomination with more than 8 million members worldwide will be gathering in Israel to pursue strategic opportunities of training and consultation. There is no better place to gain both a local and a global perspective of Scripture than from within the land of the Bible and the Gospel.
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