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.

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