As I watch events being played out across the world stage, particularly what appears to be the increasing marginalization of America and the daily ratcheting up of the outcry against Israel to make even more concessions to those who would destroy Her, I am left with an ever increasing sense that time is short. It is almost as if the "birth pains" are now increasing in intensity by the day.

As the world looks on with dismay and perplexity, we as Believers need to focus our attention more and more on the "author and finisher of our faith," the Word, and the need to take inventory of those things in our lives that may hinder us from "running the race that is set before us."

And as we focus our attention on those things that are above and not on the temporal, may our Yahweh instill in our hearts a sense of urgency to redeem the time, that we may serve Him boldly and that our lives may in every way glorify the King of Glory.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Update From Sderot 12/13/10

Shalom Haverim,

It is Sunday here, the weather is cold and stormy and I have spent the entire day in my jammies. How absolutely wonderful that has been. I highly recommend it. And added to that is the fact that sweet, red, and delicious strawberries are in season here… what a wonderful gift.

Storm winds have been blowing through much of Israel since late yesterday, with 10 cm. of snow falling on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights. Wind and heavy rain with snow also expected on the upper peaks of the mountains in the Galilee region. Sandstorms have been blowing in our area since yesterday and rain is expected to appear later in the day.

The high winds make the rocket launches difficult and dangerous for those in Gaza so it has been quiet since the winds began late yesterday. The current count so far this month is ten mortars with some damage to a home on a kibbutz and an Israeli man hospitalized after injury from a mortar on December 8th.

As to the ministry; I shared before about the beautiful handmade blankets Deanna a volunteer had brought with her. Well we recently had some other friends visit from the States, who brought a suitcase full of baby clothes. It seems like there is always someone having babies here. In the past two weeks we have made several home visits to families either expecting very soon or who have just had precious little ones. It is such a joy to be able to bless them with a few baby things and a warm blanket.

On one such occasion, we went to the home of one of the families we provide with food. The brand new, first time grandmother of triplets was so excited she couldn’t sit still. And how cool it is that with all those blankets to choose from, I was able to find three matching ones for the triplets (two girls and a boy).

The unexpected gift of a few simple baby things and a warm blanket give us the opportunity to tell them about the wonderful believers back in the States who simply love Israel and want to bless Ha’Shem’s children. But even more importantly we get to remind them that Ha’Shem loves and cares for them.

Ha’Shem shows me more and more each day that this ministry is so much more than just distributing food to the poor. There are daily opportunities to share in their lives; the births, the death of a love one, the everyday struggles of life and relationships allows us an opportunity to remind them of Ha’Shem’s love and faithfulness toward His children. It allows us to share about His character and heart. The everyday business of running the storefront gives us the opportunity to teach our volunteers about the need to operate the storefront with Godly principles which glorify Him.

This all serves to remind us that sharing His truth does not require great skill or vast knowledge on our part, but instead requires only the willingness to have Him be part of every conversation with those He has put in our lives.

This Christmas may you see and know anew how great His love is toward you... Love so amazing.

For unto you is born this day… a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update From Sderot 11/30/10

Thought you might find the following interesting. It was recorded a couple of weeks ago at Calvary Chapel Albuquerque. The guest speaker is Joel Rosenburg and he explores the critical issues facing the people of the epicenter (Israel and her neighbors).

As radical Islam threatens Israel with annihilation and replacement theology threatens to delegitimize Israel, we as believers must be grounded in the Word so that we may be able to understand the times we are living in and be able to distinguish between the truth of Ha’Shem’s Word and the false misinformation that is out there. Are the Jews the Chosen and Why Does it Matter? Were the Jews Given the Promised Land and Why Does it

matter? Why Does the World Hate Israel and the Jewish People and

Why Does it Matter? Does God Love Israel's Neighbors and Why Does it Matter? How Can the Church Bless Israel and Her Neighbors?

On the lighter side, Hanukkah begins tomorrow and preparation for this year’s Hanukkah party for the children of Sderot continues. Yesterday we picked up all the wonderful decorations that were made for us by local kindergarten children. The festive decorations will cover the walls and hang from the ceiling of the large room where the party will take place.

Hanukkah is an eight-day festival commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian tyrant Antiochus and his army. Called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the tiny cruse of oil which burned for eight days. Today this holiday is a reminder to us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and need to keep our light, the light of Yeshua, shining brightly so that we may be a light to the nations and to am Yisrael (the people of Israel).

Traditionally, Hanukkah has many meaningful customs. Every year, starting on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, (December 1st) the Jewish community begins its eight-day celebration. The day focuses on the hanukkiyah, the nine-branched Hanukkah menorah. The usual menorah, like the modern symbol of the State of Israel, is seven-branched. Eight branches remind us of the eight-day miracle of oil; and, the appropriate numbers of candles are kindled each day. The ninth branch (in the center with four branches on either side) stands out. It is used to light the other candles and is called the shamash (Hebrew for "servant"). The menorah is lit after dark, usually in connection with a festive meal. The phrase; Nes gadol haya sham (A great miracle happened there) is the common Hanukkah greeting.

I am hoping to be able to video record the party activities so I will post the clip when it is finished. Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah. Shalom.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Update From Sderot 11/13/10

The mystery man strikes once again. A week or so ago, Hope for Sderot received a notification from PayPal that a donation had been made to the organization. Shortly afterward an email arrived from an unknown source. The email sender introduced themselves and said they had just sent a donation via PayPal and hoped that there would not be any problem in the processing of the donation. They then continued on to tell the story behind the donation.

The family, was from Israel, and were vacationing in Rome, Italy a few weeks back. During their travels the wife had gone into a little shop to purchase a new scarf. The shop sold a variety of items, including Italian leather bags and wallets.

The proprietor of the shop, having recognized the couple as Israeli from their accent, engaged them in a few moments of pleasant conversation about Israel. When it was time to pay for their purchases, the owner of the shop would not accept any payment from them, but instead insisted that they make a donation to Hope For Sderot in an amount equivalent to their purchase when they returned home.

The email went on to explain that the donation was in the amount of their purchases in that little Italian leather shop, plus a little extra. Cool story, right?

The real cool thing is that on at least four or five other occasions, donations have been made all with a similar story. They are in Rome… they wander into this little leather shop… the owner recognizes them as Israeli… and when the time comes to pay for their purchase, the proprietor refuses payment… but asks them to send the purchase amount to Hope For Sderot when they return home.

We don’t know who the mystery shopkeeper is or how he knows about Hope For Sderot, but we are thankful for his faithful heart for Israel and his generous spirit. So if you’re ever in Rome….

This past week, Deanna a nurse from Canada, came to help us for a few days. She had come as a volunteer before and had returned to Israel to participate in a week-long training conference. The conference focused on Israeli medical response protocols in time of crisis. As a trauma nurse, Deanna has been to Haiti twice to help and is planning a third trip. Her training here was to prepare medical personnel who would be able to participate in teams that would come to Israel in time of war to replace those Israeli called back to active duty.

We are thankful for the few days that Deanna was able to volunteer with us and for the 116 beautiful handmade baby blankets that she brought with her. May Ha’Shem bless the loving hands of all those women that spent the countless hours making them.

We plan to distribute the blankets at the children’s ward of the medical center, an orphanage, and to those families that we serve who have little ones. We already paid a visit to Elana our new mom and her twin girls.

L’hit ra’ote!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Update From Sderot 10/30/10

As I awoke early this morning, I got out of bed and went to the window. I stood there with a rare cool morning breeze upon my face. The morning sky was filled with clouds. As I stood there in the early morning silence I heard the words, “Baruch Ha’ Shem”; barely a whisper from my lips… almost as if no sound was made. It was raining. Baruch Ha’Shem!

The LORD continues to bless in regards to the shipped container for the “war boxes”. The financial cost of having a container sit in the port of entry while unforeseen details are taken care of can be outrageously high. Efforts to ask the right questions and seek advice have been met with positive response as Ha’Shem gives favor with those in the Port Authority office.

Elana, the new mommy of twin girls, is doing well as are the babies. The organization Be’ad Chaim has offered to come along side in the effort to help this family. Together we will be bringing a gift package of clothing, diapers, and formula to this new family.

Both Hope for Sderot and Hands of Mercy will be hosting volunteers this coming week. We lift them up in prayer and ask that their time with us will be fruitful and rich in blessings.

Shabbat Shalom

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Update From Sderot 10/16/10

A couple of weeks have passed since the last time I sent out an update, so I will try to get you all caught up. We have been busy of late making some changes in the food distribution area of the ministry here. A year ago, when I first came to Sderot the ministry was helping feed 140 families each week. We are now feeding 275 families every week. Baruch Ha’Shem. It is such a blessing for us to be able to bless almost twice as many needy families every week. With all those additional bags of food to pack each week, and the resulting increase in the number of home deliveries we now make, we found it necessary to add an additional packing and distribution day to our week. It does make for a longer week, but more importantly it affords us the freedom to slow down a bit on distribution days and spend a few additional moments with our families. The ministry isn’t about the 275 bags of food we hand out each week, but rather the 275 families to which Ha’Shem allows us the privilege of being conduits of His love and comfort.

The Save The Children (“war boxes”) project is moving forward. The 40 ft. shipping container has now left the States and is scheduled for arrival here sometime in November. The container contains tons of food items like nutritional soup mix and dried fruit which will be packed into the “war boxes”. It is also bringing building supplies that we will use in assembling a conveyor system which will be used to assemble the “war boxes”. The first few groups of volunteers are being organized and will soon come and help pack the boxes. There is still much we are trusting Ha’Shem to do on our behalf such as the dealings with the Port Authorities, and the Rabbi’s Kosher stamp which is required on all imports of food items. The items already have an approval stamp from a stateside Rabbi, but will also require one from here. As we continue to step forward in what Ha’shem has put in our hearts to do, we do so in faith and with the knowledge that all those details of which we have no control are His responsibility.

Recently, I was asked if I would take on the responsibilities of a volunteer coordinator for Hope For Sderot. I am working on a volunteer information page that can be linked to from the Hope For Sderot website. It will contain general information on how to volunteer as well as what to expect. It will also include an overview of our ongoing weekly ministries and special projects that volunteers can serve in. There are opportunities to serve whether one comes by themselves or with a group. Please keep me in prayer as I take on this new project. Shalom.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update From Sderot 10/2/10

Well I just got back from four amazing days in Jerusalem. Every year thousands of Believers from over 100 countries come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. They come to bless Israel and to stand with Israel and declare Israel’s right to exist in the land that God has promised her. The people of the nations come to honor the Lord in anticipation of the fulfillment of Zechariah 14:16. Zechariah speaking of the Kingdom Age tells us of a time to come when the people of the nations will…“go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.”

A few of us from Hope For Sderot and Hands Of Mercy went up to Jerusalem to set up a ministry booth at the Feast of Tabernacles Celebration. Our ministries are working together along with City officials and rabbinical leaders to provide families across Israel with the essential items that they will need to have ready in their shelters when war breaks out again. We came to share about the project and raise awareness and support for the “war boxes” project. We passed out flyers in eight different languages, and were able to share with pastors, ministry leaders, and youth leaders from all over the world.

We are so thankful for God’s faithfulness to touch the hearts of His people all over the world. There were so many who came with a desire to bless Israel in real and tangible ways. Many asked if we would come to their homelands and speak in their churches and congregations. There were so many divine appointments that the Lord in His faithfulness had prearranged. And can you believe it, I was invited by several pastors from Spain, Nepal, Bolivia, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea to come and share about Israel, the situation here in Sderot, and the “war boxes” project. Baruch Ha’Shem!

On Tuesday, the second to the last day of the Feast Of Tabernacles Celebration, the nations paraded through the streets in Jerusalem as they made their way to the Old City. Nearly seven-thousand people from all over the world walked the parade route. Most were dressed in their traditional costumes and waved their national flags as they declared to Israelis that they love Israel and will stand with her and declare her right to exist.

For me one of the highlights of the parade was being able to stand with the young IDF soldiers as they came to the end of the parade route. We were able to walk among them as they gathered at the end of the route and shake their hands and pat them on the back saying, “Todah rabah” and “Kol ha’kavod” a phrase that means to sayall right, way to go, or a job well done”.

All in all it was a wonderful four days; we walked in the Old City, wandered through the various market quarters, and strolled down Ben Yehuda St. Baruch Ha’shem!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/24/10

Rocket and mortar fire from Gaza has been stepped up in recent days, with some twenty Kassams, mortars, or Katyusha rockets fired at Israel since the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Wednesday the 15th, saw the heaviest activity with ten rockets or mortars being fired from Gaza.

This has been the heaviest activity we have seen since “Operation Cast Lead” which began in December 2008. In one day, the ten rockets or mortars that were fired at Israeli civilians hit the cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod. At least two of the mortar shells fired on Wednesday was confirmed by authorities as white phosphorus mortars.

The secretary for one of the Negev communities said, “Every time we have peace talks, rockets and mortars rain down on us from above, but we try to maintain our daily routine… as talks proceed it will only get worse”.

The current wave of violence peaked as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the launch of the new round of peace talks in Washington three weeks ago. The latest stream of mortar and rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is clearly an attempt by Hamas to fulfill threats of violence meant to derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

As Believers, we understand that those involved in the current peace negotiations are looking for human answers to spiritual questions. The battle is a spiritual one, which means we need to have an understanding of God’s prophetic purposes and plans for Israel that we may be able to pray with understanding.

God has a purpose for Israel that shall be fulfilled despite all the attempts of the Enemy to destroy Israel and to stop God’s plan. All the hatred and indifference of the world against Israel shall not prevent the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel. It shall come to pass even if some in the Church continue to ignore God’s Word and remain indifferent toward Israel’s survival.

So what are we who love Israel to do? We are to pray. Just because God will perform His Word concerning Israel and the nations does not give excuse to sit back and watch it happen. God has always wanted us to labor with Him in the fulfillment of His purposes. This is the mystery of our relationship with Him and the mystery of prayer. But we are to pray with understanding, an understanding of God’s purposes and plans for Israel. That knowledge will only come with diligent study of God’s Word. May God remove all that distracts us from His Word.

Every year in Israel, on the first Sunday in October (October 3rd this year) is a national day of prayer. Will you mark your calendar and take a few moments on that day to join those here in the land in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. May Ha’Shem hear the prayers of His people.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/12/10

Well as the sun is setting on this the first Shabbat of the New Year, and the week of preparation and celebration of Rosh Hashanah comes to an end, I am thankful to Ha’Shem for His many blessings. It has been a long and very full week. Before I share a bit about that let me just give a brief overview of Rosh Hashanah, the first of the three Fall Feasts all of which occurs this month.

The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel’s holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 15 days. They are Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. This season is a time of reflection, contemplation, and putting things in order and getting right our relationship with God.

Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded by both Jews and Christians as a memorial of the creation of the world. This holiday is the New Year’s Day, on which the people rejoice in grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implore His blessing for the future year.

The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which follows are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. Unlike other holy days, they do not celebrate a season or historical event. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth.

The giving of gift baskets is practiced throughout Israel at this time of year. Although they can be filled with many different things, they commonly contain sweet things; candy, apples, honey, and pomegranate. This past week we assembled and delivered 280 such baskets for the families we help each week, as well as those who have been injured by the kassam rockets. I’ve posted some pictures below.

In other news; a total of 6 kassam rockets were launched this past week, 4 since the start of Rosh Hashanah. Thankfully there were no injuries; however one did cause damage to some school buildings just thirty minutes before the start of school. On Tuesday morning we were awoken by the sound of the “seva adom”. The sound of the impact was very loud as it hit with a greater force than usually. We learned later that day that it hit about a ¼ mi. away. The increase in attacks is a common occurrence as the holiest days are celebrated here, but the increase is also meant to coincide with the peace talks.

"You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalms 91.5

ar"yti la;


On the lighter side, the Feast of Tabernacles is just around the corner. This is when temporary dwellings are built all over Israel. This holiday reminds us not to hold too tightly to material things of this world. When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert, they all lived in tents–rich and poor alike. We must remember that this life is only temporary, and that we are citizens of a heavenly home. Anyway the goal is to help build a sukkot this year, and perhaps even sleep in it. Shalom.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/5/10

The work here is so much more than just the delivery of food to those who are in need. Each day often brings an opportunity to share the heart of Ha’Shem with those He brings into our lives. The day I met Yitzchak is one such experience. Yitzchak is an observant Israeli who works with another ha’mutah here in Sderot. He has a wonderful heart for those living in Sderot who are in need.

Over several months now both ha’mutahs have been working together on a project to gather and organize “war supplies” so that when the time comes we will have ready- to- deliver boxes of essential items. Yitzchak had been working on the food portion of our list and had contacted a few distributors here in Israel to get price quotes.

Yitzchak asked if we could meet with him to discuss the price quotes and also to go with him to one last distributor here in Sderot before making any final decisions as to what distributor we would use. We met and compared the price quotes and when we had looked at the proposed cost of each item we then went to the last distributor in hopes of being able to save a few more shekels. And so we met with the manager and after an hour or so had gone over each item and were given a price quote. Most of the items on our list were less expensive with this distributor, a few were higher.

After thanking the manager for his time and assistance we agreed to discuss the bid and call him with a decision. And so after a few quick errands and some shawarma for lunch, we returned to the ha’mutah to discuss the morning’s endeavors. So what’s the point? The point is the conversation we had with Yitzchak that began at lunch and continued into the afternoon as we returned to the ha’mutah.

You have to understand; observant Jews go to synagogue regularly and hear the reading of the Torah, but many do not read the Torah themselves on a regular basis. Their understanding of the Law and how to observe it mostly comes from the Midrash, the Talmud, the oral traditions and what “this or that” Rabbi says. In addition, there are many customs that seem to allow one to follow the letter of the Law while totally missing the heart of it.

For example, the Eruv is an actual wire that encircles most Israeli towns. There is one here in Sderot. If an actual wire does not exist then there are agreed upon structures that mark the outer boundaries of the town or city. The purpose of the Eruv is to extend the personal boundaries of one’s home and incorporate them into one large community domain. Why? Simply put, it is so that you can travel anywhere within the Eruv on the Shabbat and not be violating the Law.

Well back to my story… as we sat enjoying our shawarma and Cokes, and discussing the morning activities, Yitzchak said, “I don’t know what to do… Ye’shi said not to lie.” Ye’shi is the director of the ha’mutah that Yitzchak works with, and is currently in the States working with supporters. He had left Yitzchak in charge of the ordering and had apparently told him not to lie in order to get a better deal with the distributors. Ye'shi, understanding the Jewish mind set, left Yitzchak with that one simple instruction.

Now anyone that has visited Israel and has done any shopping in Jerusalem knows that there is a fine art to the bartering system here. Israelis enjoy the fine art of getting the best out of a deal; and Yitzchak is no exception. The goal in Yitzchak’s mind was to get the items we needed at the very lowest price. In his mind, telling the manager we had met with that morning that the other bids were lower than they actually were was simply the Israeli way of business; part of the fine art of getting the best price.

Well the obvious answer to Yitzchak’s question; “Should I lie?” was simply, “No!” And the explanation as to “why” was a wonderful opportunity for us to share the heart of Ha’Shem in the matter with our Israeli friend. Ha’Shem wanted to teach Yitzchak a truth and reveal His heart to him. Yitzchak’s point of view was that this was just business… “It’s the Israeli way in business,” he said. And so we shared…

“But that’s not what Ha’Shem’s Word to us teaches,” we said. We discussed Ha’Shem’s command; “Do not steal”, and how Ha’Shem requires strict integrity in all affairs of life. That any attempt to advantage oneself by the ignorance, weakness, or misfortune of another is fraud in the books of heaven. Ha’Shem also tells us that we are not to bear false witness; we continued, “Any intention to deceive constitutes falsehood.”

And so our conversation continued; “Now Ha’ Shem could have just as easily given us a totally different set of commands, but He didn’t. He carefully chose each one, and each one reflects who He is. Ha’Shem says to us, ‘Do not steal’ because He is righteous and faithful. He says, ‘Do not bear false witness’ because He cannot lie, there is no falsehood in Him. Ha’Shem’s commandments to us are not a random list of “Dos and Don’ts” that we can bend and manipulate. They reflect who He is; they reflect His characteristics, characteristics He wants to build in us, so that we might be able to reflect who He is in honesty and truth to a lost and hurting world.”

As the afternoon passed, we continued to discuss the heart of Ha’Shem versus the “letter of the law” Lessons were learn by all; Yitzchak heard Ha’Shem’s heart in the matter and agreed to speak the truth and trust Ha’Shem to bless his efforts. As for me, as a gentile; I was struck by the amazing opportunity I was given to share the heart of Ha’Shem with my new Israeli friend. Baruch Ha’Shem!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sderot- The bomb shelter capital of the world

Update From Sderot 8/21/10

The weather here has been extremely hot with unusually high humidity. Not bad if you like being in a sauna. When the mercury rises above 90° and the humidity is reaching 40% daily activities can be difficult here for most, but for the elderly of Sderot it can be very dangerous. So on Thursday morning when HFS was asked if we could help with the purchase of some fans for ten elderly, we gladly said we would do what we could. So what do you do when you receive an unexpected donation, given in the memory of a loving wife… that very afternoon? You load up the van with brand new fans. The next day, as Shabbat drew near we circled the streets of Sderot delivering the much needed fans to nine elderly widows and a single mom with very small children. ~See Photos Below

Tuesday this week was spent unpacking the eight pallets of food supplies that come from the main warehouse in Bet Shemesh every month. Teenagers from the high school helped us to unload and stack more than 8000 kilos of food. ~See Photos Below

On Wednesday we picked up nearly 780 pounds of potatoes from a local farming kibbutz. With the high temperatures and humidity here, every one of them needed to be washed and dried. ~See Photos Below

On Thursday, “Delivery Day”, I saw Paolina, the mom I wrote about last week. She came up to me and gave me a big hug and I whispered, "al-tirah" in her ear. How awesome it is that even though I speak very little Hebrew and she speaks even less English, and yet I can whisper those words and the language barrier simply melts away.

The city of Sderot looks like a construction zone. Everywhere you look mamads (shelters) are being built. This past week we were at the home of one of the volunteers. The contractors have been building their mamad for several weeks now. We watched as the workers very carefully brushed a sealant around the heavy security door to seal any openings. It was explained to us that the small cracks around the door and window needed to be sealed to protect against chemical attacks. This is the reality of life in Sderot. And yet it is a great joy and a privilege to serve Ha'shem here. Shalom.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Update From Sderot 8/14/10

Well after a 14-hour flight I have finally arrived here in Israel once again. And as usual, the days have been full of blessings and opportunities to serve. There are more “mamads” (shelters) being built everywhere, more people in need, but there is also more food on the shelves at the “moxon”. Baruch Ha’Shem!

Well Tuesday morning started out early with preparing a meal for Enosh. Twice a month, the “ha’mutah”, Hope For Sderot, purchases, prepares, and delivers a mid-morning meal for the disabled adults at Enosh. The day care center provides productive activities for mentally disabled adults.

Tuesday afternoon was spent at Kibbutz Nir Am, a small kibbutz on the Northwestern border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. We were able to relax with old friends and catch up on things here.

We started out Wednesday morning with a time of prayer for the ha’mutah, the volunteers, and the many families Ha’Shem allows us to serve here in Sderot. Wednesday is also “fruit and vegetable” day, so we drove to the distributor that provides us with fresh fruits and vegetables that we are able to add to the weekly food packages.

Thursday is food delivery day. Ha’shem has blessed the ha’mutah and it now serves even more families each week. With help from The Joshua Fund, we are able to distribute food to 227 families each week. Each week we load up the beat up old van with food packages for the families and the elderly who are unable to pick theirs up. After deliveries were done we headed back to the moxon to prepare lunch for our Israeli volunteers. The rest of Thursday afternoon was clearly orchestrated by Ha’Shem.

While at the nearby hardware store, we met an Israeli lady who needed some help getting an oversized item back home. As she was being assisted into the van, she was speaking to me in Hebrew, of which I was only able to understand a few words. Basically she was trying to tell us that she recognized us from Tuesday morning’s meal delivery to Enosh. After getting her home, we returned back to the moxon with a flyer she had given us.

Apparently, she had been the victim of a recent assault and robbery. Her adult son was also a victim; he had been very severely beaten in the incident. The son who was already 75% disabled following injuries sustained while serving as a soldier was now 100% disabled. And she was 75% disabled from her injuries.

We also learned that earlier that day, while we were delivering packages, she had been to the moxon requesting help. So when the work was finished for the day, we asked Eti to come along with us to help interpret, and went to the woman’s home to let her know we would be adding her to the list of families we help each week.

As we arrived, she opened the door to us but was obviously nervous about disturbing her son who was in his room with very loud music playing. She invited us to sit at the tiny kitchen table, and so we did. She then brought a handful of papers and spread them out on the table before us. The papers, some from doctors, some from social services told the story of what had happen. She then brought out two boxes of medication which I recognized immediately as a long acting injectable antipsychotic. Almost immediately, I was able to fill in the gaps in the story.

Her son, who at this point was still in his room, had suffered severe head trauma not once but twice. Those two incidences had left him with extreme mood and personality changes that now required medication to control. What occurred next required no interpreter to give understanding.

Her son came out of his room and was loud and very agitated. You didn’t need to speak Hebrew to understand he was angry and wanted us to leave. I am thankful for Ha’Shem’s hand of protection. I knew He had brought us there and that He would also safely get us out of there. We stood to leave but wanted the woman to also follow us outside. She had obviously cowered at her son’s rage because she had experienced it before when the verbal rage had turned physical.

We walked outside with the woman, and with Eti’s help as an interpreter, learned that her son wasn’t always like this. It was only after the head trauma that he had become violent. We wanted to spend more time with her as she was now in tears, but with her son still upstairs yelling we didn’t want to make things worse for her.

I am always amazed at Ha’shem’s ability to use us here to declare His love, and comfort His people despite our language limitations and shortcomings. How do you share Ha'Shem's comfort with someone who is distraught and fearful when you don't even speak their language? You pull out of your pocket a leather keychain that came all the way from California… a keychain that declares;

“Be not afraid”
Isaiah 41:10

You could see her able find some comfort as she was able to read the Hebrew words, al-tirah… “Be not afraid” in her own language. And I was yet once again able to experience the handiwork of Ha’Shem and to realize that He orchestrated the entire encounter as far back as when He first spoke to me in that still small voice; "Fear not, it is I.”

More than four months prior, Ha'Shem had comforted me with those same words. Words that were now stamped on 270 leather keychains, keychains that were made for me to bring with me to Israel, keychains that will be part of this year's Rosh Hashanah gift baskets. Baruch Ha'Shem!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Update From Sderot 5/27/10

We are often unable to see the handiwork of God in the moment… but step back a bit, collect the moments into a whole, and clarity is often ours. With the passing of time we can see the seemingly disconnected events of our lives as a perfectly woven tapestry that God has orchestrated.

Learning to recognize God’s handiwork in the midst of ordinary events requires faith. It requires a willingness to listen to His quiet voice and trust His gentle leading. But to completely trust God requires the discipline of absolute surrender.

Between the promise and the fulfillment is a pathway of dependence. We must learn to choose faith over fear, and to rest in His promises, for He whispers to His children, ”I the LORD your GOD, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not.” Isaiah 41:13

Over the past two years the Lord has continued to stir my heart toward Israel, particularly Sderot, Israel. And I believe that over the past eight or nine months, He has continued to reveal through His Word and godly counsel His plan for me to spend a season there.

I am so blessed to be able to continue working with those in Sderot who have been injured, both physically and mentally by the Kassam rockets. My hope, my prayer is for God to use me to bring some comfort to His children, and that I might boldly speak His truth. Please join with me in prayer as I ask our Lord to strengthen me for the work ahead. Your support in prayer is appreciated. Toda raba!

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update From Sderot 3/3/10

Well this past week has turned out to be a whirlwind of activities. The days have been full of opportunities to serve, sharing of the gospel, and special times of fellowship and prayer.

This past Wednesday, another ha mutah here in town known as “Hands of Mercy,” blessed the volunteers at “Hope for Sderot” with Purim baskets for all.

To commemorate the miraculous turn of events recorded in Esther, Purim is celebrated with feasts, sending gifts of food to friends and the needy, and with the reading of Esther. The story of Purim reminds us that God is always in control, even when we don’t easily recognize His hand in our circumstances.

Yeshiah the director of “Hands of Mercy” (a ministry that provides clothing for those in need) wanted to bless all of his volunteers as well as those with “Hope for Sderot.” And so a few of us from “Hope from Sderot” and Yeshiah went to the local candy store to buy baskets, candy, and various other treats. After our trip to the candy store we gathered together to assemble the fifty baskets. It was a special time as we came together and worked with one another in order to bless our volunteers.

Later that night, Yeshiah and three other believers from “Hands of Mercy” gathered with us for a spaghetti dinner and prayer and fellowship. We also watched episode two of the “Truth Project.” It is a very special time for us as we are able to gather together once a week to share a meal, pray and fellowship and encourage one another.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1

On Thursday after home deliveries were done for the day, I had the opportunity to make a home visit to Rachel, an elderly lady who had been sick for several days with a respiratory infection, and was now feeling worse. What a privilege it is to use my nursing skills here, and although there is obviously a language barrier, the Lord provided a young neighbor girl with some English skills to help translate. I continue to visit Yael and help her with her physical therapy. She is improving and is beginning to be able to move around better.

We spent two days this week, in Beit Shemesh, where The Joshua Fund just opened a 9000 sq. ft. warehouse. The new warehouse will serve as a centralized location to store food and wartime supplies. The warehouse, when operational, will partner with the smaller moxons like “Hope for Sderot.” It not only will be making weekly deliveries of food to “Hope for Sderot,” it will also coordinate any war-time efforts between the moxons. While we were at the warehouse we helped with the assembling of office furniture, did some cleaning, and labeled pallets from the first food delivery.

There is still much to be done in order to get the warehouse operational, and we pray and trust the Lord to send helping hands. The current “quiet” here is deceiving and very fragile at best. There is a sense of “racing against time” as we work to make things ready. Like Nehemiah, our prayer is that God would prosper the work of our hands.

Thanks to all you prayer warriors who continue to lift me up, Toda raba! I miss you all. Leheitraot!

Update From Sderot 2/20/10

Well, Thursday was delivery day for the moxon, and it was great to see some old friends. The simple act of giving a few groceries and an offer to say a prayer of blessing over them speaks volumes to them. A few moments to just sit with them and chat, while sharing a glass of mayim (pronounced mime; which is water) and a cookie or two is a important part of the traditional hospitality of Israeli people.

We stopped by "Green House" when we were done with deliveries. "Green House" is sort of like an outpatient daycare center for adults with mental disabilities. The clients they serve spend time learning to make marketable crafts such as pottery, rag rugs, jewelry, etc. They have a little gift shop there where their work is sold.

Thursday evening, some of the believers gathered for a night of fellowship. Since Purim is next week, I had brought the movie, "One Night With The King," which most here had not seen yet. After the movie and the popcorn, we spent some time sharing in the word and had a time of prayer together.

Friday evening at sunset marked the start of Shabbat, and we shared the Shabbat meal with a family I met on my last trip. After five Shabbat meals here, I'm beginning to recognize some the different parts and the prayers known as the Kiddush, or the blessing of the wine, and the Challah, or blessing of the bread. And before our evening there was over we had the opportunity to listen as a young Israeli boy proudly practiced the haftarah which he will soon recite at his Bar Mitzvah. Leheitrot!

Update From Sderot 2/17/10

Well first of all, I apologize for the delay in getting the first update out. I arrived on Monday afternoon and by Monday evening I was feeling a little sick, just a head cold but enough to make me just want to crawl into bed at the end of the day. But the worse is over and now I really look forward to my time here. It is great to see all the volunteers once again, and I'm glad that I have been able to retain most of the Hebrew I learned last time, and am already expanding my vocabulary.

Not much has changed here, although in regards to the rockets, things are quiet right now. But the anticipation of another war is clearly evident as I can see that the construction of family shelters has quickened. Last time I was here you could see them going up here and there, (I'm not sure how it is decided who gets one next) but now there is much more construction everywhere. And instead of taking months to complete one they are being completed alot quicker too.

One of the volunteers, Yael, had a fall a few weeks back and she is recovering from multiple contusions to her leg, a hairline fracture to her knee, and a slipped disc. I am thankful for the opportunity to help her with her physical therapy exercises each morning while I'm here.

As to the other activities I look forward to while I'm here... tomorrow is food distribution day and I hope to help with some of the home deliveries so I can visit with some of the families I got to know last time. And of course we will be starting preparations for Purim soon. I'll share more about Purim in a upcoming update. I will also have an opportunity to go on a three-hour drive north of here to visit the soldiers from Yuron Company. We have been invited to attend their graduation ceremony at the end of the month.

Update From Sderot 10/6/09

Early Friday morning at 7:25, as I awoke from a restful nights sleep I was so rudely awaken by...yes you guessed it Tseva Adom. A Kassam rocket was fired earlier from the Gaza Strip and it landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. The one that awoke all of Sderot was the second attack of the morning. I have to admit, the idea of getting into the shower after that did not appeal to me.

On Shabbat, Friday night, a third Kassam rocket was fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It also hit an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. And so the cycle of rocket fire followed by IDF response continues. And of course, the media from outside this area reads, "No injuries reported."

The emotional fallout from the rockets is unseen but nevertheless still exists. With every new rocket fired, the people, the children of Sderot, are once again thrust back into a reality they try so hard to forget. And yet, even with the twelve or thirteen rockets that have been fired upon Sderot and the western Negev since my arrival three weeks ago, most people here still refer to things as being "quiet" now. But the apprehension is clearly seen on their faces. They know things will once again escalate and another war will soon begin.

That is the reason why Hope For Sderot with help from Joel Rosenburg and the Joshua Fund is working toward getting another building in place to store emergency war time supplies. The logistics of getting the basic needs of the people met during war can be a very daunting task. It is for that reason that preparations must be made now. As most of us who have heard Joel speak before, we know that he often reminds his audience that "We pray for peace but prepare for war."

That message is the reality for the people of Sderot. It is heard in their everyday conversations, it is clearly seen in their faces, and it is a tangible emotion that is experienced everyday by all who call Sderot home. Shabbat Shalom.

Update From Sderot 9/30/09

The work on the memorial park continues. Today we dug the first of the footings for the picnic tables. I don't think I will ever be able to complain about the hard California clay soil again. I'm telling you, California has nothing on Israel. We couldn't even use our shovels, instead the four holes we dug today were done by very slowly chipping away the hard compact soil with the claw end of a hammer. Ok, so they say, "Come to Israel, and the Bible will come alive." Well, from now on, whenever I read about the children of Israel pitching their tents, or digging a well, I will definitely see things in a whole new light.

Last night I was very blessed to have the opportunity to teach some basic emergency first aid to a group of sixteen Israeli volunteers. Kobi, the Israeli, who was seriously injured by a kassam rocket in 2005, helped me teach the class. He was a EMT in the IDF so his knowledge, not mention his ability to translate for me was very invaluable.

In other news, there have been a total of five more rocket attacks this week between Rosh Ha'Shanah and Yom Kippur. Apparently, the IDF was able to take out some tunnles during the Rosh Ha'Shanah attacks, and destroyed a rocket launcher following the Yom Kippur attack.

On the lighter side, the sukkah's are being built all over town for the Feast of Tabernacles. The city even trims the palm trees at this time of year so that the fronds will be available for use on the rooftops. Stewart, Kobi, and I had lunch in one today. Shalom

Update From Sderot 9/27/09

This evening at sunset, the household of Israel began its observance of the Day of Atonement. Many will fast, many went to the synagogue and participated in the traditions of this day, and many used the day as another day to watch movies and pass the time until this Holy Day is over.

I had the opportunity to sit outside this evening and watch as many Israelis took to the streets after the traditional early meal. Most, but not all, wore white attire which symbolizes purity, and serves as a reminder that their sins will be "white as snow" Isaiah 1:18.

As the sun went down, most of the men went to their synagogue to pray, while the women and children flooded into the streets. The older women sat in groups and talked, while the younger women walked with their small children. The older children rode bikes or rollerskated. It was such a blessing to be able to sit and watch as these young sons of Israel and daughters of Zion were able to forget about the Tseva Adom, at least for tonight, and come out into the streets to play.

As the evening wore on, the men who had now finished the traditional prayers, left the synagogues and swarmed into the already crowded streets in search of their wives and children, many still wearing their prayer shawl.

Life here in Israel seems to revolve around sabbaths, festivals, and appointed days. It seems obvious to me that Israel mourns and longs for the Presence of the Living God. Somehow, in their collective memory they have retained a dim memory of a distant past when God once lived among them; He dwelt in their midst and His Glory was manifested in their nation and history. Let us pray for His Spirit to bring an unbearable longing for God into the heart of the Jewish people.

Update From Sderot 9/26/09

Shabbat Shalom,
Today was spent indoors, in the word and fellowship. Awesome! I did however spend some time online looking up some emergency first aid stuff because I have been asked if I could share some of the basics with those here. Kobi, one of the Israeli volunteers will be translating for me as well as helping with skills practice. Kobi was a EMT in the IDF and so will be very helpful in this.

Rosh Hashanah has just past and tomorrow is Erev Yom Kippur, the eve of Israel's holiest day also known as the Day of Atonement. The letter of Paul to the Hebrews really comes alive in context to these Fall Feasts. "

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." Hebrews 9:11-14

Update From Sderot 9/21/09

Well I need to catch up a couple of days worth. As this weeks Shabbat came to an end (Saturday evening) we headed back to the apartment, thankful for some quiet time to answer emails, gather our thoughts, and most importantly to be able to spend time in the Word.

As I finished this week's Woman's Bible Study, I heard a very loud shrill alarm (similar to a home fire alarm) only much louder. The sound of the alarm going off was immediately followed by the words Tseva Adom, Tseva Adom, Tseva Adom.... There isn't any safe room in the apartment so the regular routine would be to go to the four by six laundry room, close the metal shutters, and crouch down below the level of the window. And so that is what we did, and waited, and listened and prayed. Two rockets were fired toward Sderot. Thankfully they hit in an uninhabited area, and no injuries were reported.

"Great peace have those that love Your Law, and
nothing causes them to stumble." Psalms 119:165

Sunday evening we spent at Kobi house. If you read the last update it was at Kobi's parents house that we ate dinner on Rosh Hashanah. Kobi is an Israeli seeker. He says he likes to read our Bible, particularly Revelation. So we (Stewart the Israeli believer, myself and Wendy the Gentile believers, and Kobi the Israeli seeker) spent the evening discussing God's Word. Please remember Kobi in your prayers.

Update From Sderot 9/19/09

Yesterday, Israel celebrated the first of the Fall Feasts, Rosh Hashanah. The name Rosh Hashanah means "beginning or head of the year." This celebration marks the beginning of the High Holy Days on the Jewish calendar. The Bible refers to Rosh Hashanah as the Feast of Trumpets, and it begins the Ten Days of Awe that conclude with Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. This is a wonderful time to seek the Lord, repent for wrongdoing, and consecrate ourselves to God, thanking Him for His work in our lives.

We spent the shabbat evening at one of the volunteer's (Kobi) parent's home eating the traditional Rosh Hashanah meal. I have to say Israelis love to gather together to share a meal. And there doesn't seem to be any shortage of invites. Each meal begins with the blessing of the wine and then the bread. Then the array of salads, which is always followed by an entree of fish. You then watch in amazement as side dish after side dish is brought out and placed on the table. And just when you think you can't eat another bite, several more meat dishes find their way to the table. Somehow every bare space of table top if filled with something delicious.
And just when you think the meal is over, several more plates of sweet pastries and fresh fruit arrive along with fresh coffee and tea. I can't help but think of Abraham preparing a meal for the three visitors in Genesis 18. Somehow I no longer see that as Abraham throwing a quick bite together.

Update From Sderot 9/17/09

We are all thankful that it has been quiet in regards to the kassams, but I couldn't help but notice the facial reactions of my new friends last night while enjoying an outdoor dinner. There were about twenty of us sitting and having dinner on a outdoor patio at Nana's house when the sound of several jets taking off nearby was heard. Almost in unison those at the table experienced an increase sense of alertness as they listened for the alarms to sound. Thankfully, this time at least they did not.

Yesterday was filled with lots of activities such as handing out food and special gift baskets for Rosh Hashanah. We also made many home deliveries. It was while making the deliveries that one of the coolest experiences of the day happened. I was out making the home deliveries with Bobbie Anne an American sister living here in Sderot, when she mentioned that she wanted to drop a gift basket off as a thank you.

As we parked the car and got out we were met at the building entrance by three Israeli men asking what we were doing there and who we were there to see. and of course they were very interested in the gift basket Bobbie Anne was holding. After asking for our passports and if they could inspect the basket we were told we could not go up to see the intended person. It was shortly after this that someone upstairs look down at the five of us and instructed the Israeli guards to let us come up.

Well apparently, as it turned out this was Kenesset member, Michael Eitan, who plays a role in the Kenesset that is similar to our Speaker of the House. But he welcomed us into his apartment much to the dismay of the three guards. Well after simple introductions Mr Eitan asked me where I was from which I answered along with why I had come to Sderot. He then shared for about an hour about his adventures in the late 80's when he led a large group of Israelis in eight RV's in a tour across America. He has acually seen more of America then I had ~ and I told him as much.

Our conversation then turned to the present, and we spoke of the current situation here in Sderot as well as Israel's mounting challenges to protect herself in an atmosphere where the rest of the world cries out for more concessions and give-a-ways. He did however state that Israel continues to see America as a good friend. To this I couldn't help but reply, "America is your friend sir, but I would like you to know this... If a time comes when my country, the administration of my country, is no longer seen as Israel's friend, please know that there will always be a remnant of those in America that truely love Israel and will always stand with Her." To this he simply smiled, winked and said, "In God we trust." I smiled back, and said, "Yes. Yes that we must."

Update From Sderot 9/15/09

Wow what a full day today was. The morning was spent with errands and preparation work for Thursday's food distribution, with a world wind of activity in the afternoon. Many of the regular volunteers showed up to help pack the gift baskets for Rosh Hashanah, along with several that drove down from Be'er Shiva to help. The gift baskets will be distributed tomorrow with the weekly food items. All were very warm and and welcoming. Frequently as we worked our mini assembly line the woman would brake out in Hebrew songs of praise. I was blessed in the hearing.

The ministry Hope for Sderot has been here in Sderot for only seven months now. The majority of the volunteers here are local Hebrews, who although most are not yet believers, they all totally embrace the believers who have come here to help....

Those believers that are here are faithful to love them unconditionally, and to share the "why" of "Why are you here?" or "Why do you do this?" whenever they are asked lama?(why).

We are all thankful for the past week of quiet.

For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof goes forth as the noon day, and the salvation thereof as a blazing torch.
Isaiah 62:1

Update From Sderot 9/14/09

Shalom, well I'm finally here. The flight was good, and the Father kept a watchful eye on all the supplies. The hour long ride from Tel Aviv to Sderot afforded us a great time of fellowship, questions and answers on both sides. Got to stop by the Moxan (the ministry warehouse) and got to see all the food packages that are ready for distribution on Thursday. Tomorrow we will be assembling gift baskets for Rosh Hashanah. Well it has really been a long day so I will share more tomorrow. Remember me in prayer. Shalom.

For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof goes forth as the noon day, and the salvation thereof as a blazing torch.
Isaiah 62:1