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December 2013

He Will Save His People From...


Sin is a slippery subject.

There are those who shy away from pronouncing its presence, who semantically rename it “moral failure,” or redirect its blame from the individual to amorphous causes—family, society, economics, or ideology. 

And then there are those who gladly point out sin’s existence in everyone and every event that they examine.  From this stark perspective, it is not hard to find, or create, blame within a world that is filled with so much malice, corruption, and abuse. Like the story of the boy who cries wolf, the hardened and wounded world shuts its ears to these incessant condemnations.

Enemies, on the other hand, are much easier to agree on.

From national interests to personal problems, we all have opponents with opinions, agendas, and intentions in conflict with us. We are “enemies,” because we disagree.  In the extreme, foes seek genocide, though more often, some form of submission.  Enemies are those we must overcome because they are against us.

Sin and enemies are both real.  Today’s headlines testify to their relevance for our century’s nomenclature.  To pretend that they were created by psychological projections of ancient civilization only displays our modern pretentiousness. 

When the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph, declaring the coming birth of the Messiah of Israel, he told Joseph to name Mary’s baby, Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins (Mt 1:21).”  At that time, the Jewish people were under the thumb of the Roman Empire, ruled by an oppressive puppet king, Herod.  It would have made much more practical and political sense for the angel to say “he will save his people from their enemies.”  Throughout Israel’s history and the Hebrew writings, the Lord continually promised that He would save, or He would send a savior to deliver, His people from their enemies (Ex 6:6-8; Jud 2:18; Ezk 35:20-31, Zechariah's song especially annunciates this in Luke's birth narrative--Lk 1:68-71).

Yet, the Scriptures also repeatedly reminded the reader that it was the people’s sins, not their enemies, which had separated them from God.  For example,

“You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against (your ways), you were angry.
How then can we be saved?  All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a filthy menstrual rag.”  Isa 64:5-6

While it is always easy for us to single out the sawdust in someone else’s eye, the real problem is the plank of wood protruding from our own.  Enemies will always be with us.  Even if we try to truly reconcile with them, there are no guarantees of a blissful peace.  In any case, we should be examining our own hearts, our own motives, and our own sins.  Repentance is a paradoxical path—the only way to win, is to lose.  We first must humble ourselves before we are lifted up from our own pit.  Here, we find the power of Jesus, Israel's Messiah, the one who can save us from our sins, which are ultimately more deadly than our enemies. 


Charity Report: 2013 Year in Review

Jerusalem Cornerstone is not a large organization. We are a handful of people that love God’s Word, His people, and His land. While there are many other non-profit groups working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories with a greater financial support and human resource base, at JCF we believe that God has given us a special calling despite our limited assets.

We believe that God has called us to help those who are struggling, those who have fallen through the cracks. Everyday we come across people that have been rejected by the world, those forgotten by their families, friends, neighbors, and governments.

JCF does not have a brick and mortar building. We have a simple staff in Israel that receives modest stipends. Our workers embody your prayers and gifts.

This year, 121 different people have given towards the work and staff of JCF, and we are honored to serve as God’s ministers of those funds entrusted to us. Thank you for your faithfulness towards the Lord’s work and His Word.

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.  HOL owns farming land and is hoping to grow their own food for those in need and, perhaps, one day, build a Christian Center on the property.  JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Club for the Blind is an Israeli social service to the blind residents of Tiberias which was dormant before JCF’s involvement. The club has around 30 members and meets three times a week for classes and trips. There are art and cooking activities led by professionals.  JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Beit El is a Messianic Jewish Ethiopian Congregation in Jerusalem with more than 100 members. They struggle to make ends meet, while standing as faithful witnesses for the Gospel within Israeli society. JCF’s funds typically go towards the needs of their families, single mothers, sick, elderly, new immigrants, youth, and children. Over 30 families have received support through JCF during 2013. JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Others JCF has recently helped:

Oliver is a father of four boys, living off of disability benefits. He has difficulty managing the house even with financial assistance from his eldest son who works. JCF helped cover an outstanding electric bill ($354).

Ruth, is divorced and remarried but is currently having marital problems with her husband.  She has a restraining order against him. JCF helped pay for some grocery bills ($58).

Sally’s daughter is taking the final exams to graduate from high school.  JCF helped pay for the cost of some of the exams ($200).

Carey is a Palestinian woman who has severe arthritis and supports her family by babysitting and serving food at weddings. Her medication for the arthritis is expensive.  JCF helped ($300).

JCF gave Christmas food baskets to 43 Southern Lebanese refugee families living in northern Israel ($1000) who fled their home country in 2000, when the Israeli army pulled out of Lebanon.

JCF contributed $588 to a Jerusalem Social Club for retirees who have no support from family or friends and rarely leave their homes. The club provides hot meals and activities for the elderly twice a week.

Rick, an Israeli-American with wife and two young children, recently suffered from a stroke caused by a virus that inflamed the area around his heart. He is currently unemployed and trying to recover.  JCF helped with some expenses ($300).

Eddy has been homeless since 2002.  With government help, a few months ago he was able to rent a tiny apartment. JCF helped him purchase a washing machine ($296).


News in Israel

Blizzard in Israel.  Over two weeks ago, Israel witnessed its heaviest snowfall in almost a century.  For three straight days snow fell in the mountains of Israel (Dec 12-14), with more than 24 inches falling in Jerusalem.  In Hebron and Ramallah, the snow was even deeper.  The entire Middle East was subject to the early, unexpected wintery weather, which resulted in heavy rains and floods. An example of this extraordinary phenomenon was Cairo, Egypt (elevation 75 feet), which had snow for the first time in 112 years

For those living in Jerusalem and other communities, some thousands lost electricity anywhere from a day to four days.  The snow turned to ice, leaving the roads dangerous to drive, and hundreds to thousands of cars stranded on Jerusalem’s steep roads.  Because of the hazard, schools were shut down up to a week till the ice started melting.  Even today, you can still find small patches of snow/ice in certain parts of the city.  Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, says the storm may end up costing Israel's capital nearly $150 million.

For a video of the snow fall in Jerusalem, here.

For old, historical pictures of snow in Jerusalem, here.

Pictures of snow in the Middle East, here.

Texas A&M University to open new campus in Nazareth, Israel.  The new school in Jesus' hometown is expected to cost $70 million and be completed by October 2015.  More here.


JCF News: Wedding Bells

Laura Ehrlich, daughter of Larry and Mary Ehrlich, was married to Daniel Sanka of Karatu, Tanzania, on November 9, 2013.  The couple plans to make their home in Minneapolis, MN.

JCF Office and the Ehrlichs moving to Wisconsin. Larry and Mary Ehrlich, JCF’s United States Directors, are moving this coming month to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, as Larry retires from his administrative post at Augustine Christian Academy.  The JCF United States office will be moving with them as well.  Beginning Jan 1st, the new JCF address will be:  P.O. Box 3901, Oshkosh, WI,  54903.

New Directory for JCF articles.  You can now find all JCF articles conveniently archived individually on our new “Articles” page here.

Kopps' Celebrate Christmas with Israelis and a Holocaust survivor in Nazareth.

Chuck and Liz Kopp spent Dec 19-20 with a large group of secular Israelis seeking to learn more about Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth. They attended at the invitation of Egon Lowy, a holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia who attributes his survival to the compassion of Liz's family's in-laws in eastern Slovakia. 

BLC Biblical Hebrew and Greek Summer Courses in North Carolina.  This summer, for the first time, the Biblical Language Center will be running both its Hebrew and Greek immersion courses in North America.  The four week courses will be hosted by 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].

Join a JCF Israel Study Tour 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?  2014 is your year.  Check out all the groups and dates that you can join, here.


Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • The Ehrlichs are moving to Wisconsin this January.  Pray for health, strength, and good weather.  See above under JCF News.
  • Syria—Over 125,000 people have died and nearly three million refugees have fled the country in the civil war.  For a powerful report on the Syrian refugees, here.
  • African Refugees in Israel —More than 55,000 currently reside here.  Their deplorable situation has become a political and moral predicament for Israeli society.  For current news, here, here, and here.  Please pray for one Eritrean refugee, that we know personally who is trying to have his hands reconstructed after they were crushed and destroyed by kidnappers in Sinai.  To learn more about his story, here.
  • Two Israeli families —On Dec 27th, in the neighborhood where Gary and Sharon Alley's family and Yoni and Dalia Gerrish's family live, a two year old boy was backed over by a car and died.  At the kindergarten complex where Gary's son, Sa'ar attends, the toddler was killed when his father had come to pick up his brother.  The child was accidentally run over by another father who was picking up his child as well.  Please pray for both of these families in the wake of this life-shattering tragedy.
  • New Exhibit on King Herod at the Israel Museum, “The Final Journey of King Herod the Great.”  The exhibit will run from February 12 through the fall.
  • Oil in Israel’s Future?  It is estimated that Israel has nearly 250 billion barrels of untapped oil shale reserves.
  • Israel and Iran: A love story?  When war between Israel and Iran seemed imminent, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry shared a poster on Facebook of himself and his daughter with a bold message: “Iranians ... we [heart] you.”

Good News in the Middle East


  • New Exhibit on King Herod at the Israel Museum, “The Final Journey of King Herod the Great.”  The exhibit will run from February 12 through the fall.
  • Oil in Israel’s Future?  It is estimated that Israel has nearly 250 billion barrels of untapped oil shale reserves.
  • Israel and Iran: A love story?  When war between Israel and Iran seemed imminent, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry shared a poster on Facebook of himself and his daughter with a bold message: “Iranians ... we [heart] you.”