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The Lord is Building Jerusalem—One Apartment at a Time!

July 5, 2005
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Elderly Immigrants Blessed by Christian Assistance

Alex, a Jerusalem social worker, recently called James and asked if the repair team could help Anatoly, a 95-year-old retired doctor from Ukraine. Twice, James went and there was no answer. Finally, on the third visit, the door was opened by Ludmilla, who comes in from time to time to check on Anatoly. It was fortunate that she happened to be there at that exact time, because Alex had forgotten to mention that Anatoly is deaf. Yet despite his hearing problem and age, Anatoly is remarkably hale and hearty. Normally, when the team arrives at a home to plaster and paint, they expect to move furniture. To their great surprise, Anatoly had already moved the furniture into the center of the room!

The apartment looked like it hadn’t been painted in years. Once white walls were now a dingy and grimy gray. The Bridges for Peace workers got out their tools, and it wasn’t long before the apartment was transformed. As they looked around the now new-looking apartment, they saw that both Anatoly and Ludmilla were crying. Ludmilla had learned a few words of English in order to thank our workers. Repeatedly, in Russian and broken English, they thanked them. Gareth, a volunteer from the United Kingdom, found his eyes filling up with tears as he saw how much his work had meant to these elderly new immigrants.

Relationships Are Being Built

One of the main goals of Bridges for Peace is to build relationships between Christians and Jews around the world. James loves this program, because he sees what wonderful relationships are being built with social workers, vendors, mayors of towns, and the needy whose homes are being renewed. Four years ago, he had to wait for checks to clear before vendors would give him supplies; now, they are happy to give him discounts and credit. Social workers, who used to go with James to apartments and hang around to make sure everything was OK, now trust James and Bridges for Peace to do a good job.

Showing Love Amid Shocking Conditions

New volunteers are often shocked by the reality of poverty—the dirt and odors are often an assault on the senses. James has learned to expect bad conditions and encourages volunteers to rise above the circumstances. “Not everyone can clean someone else’s dirty toilet, but when we are not only willing, but do so, we are saying that we care,” he says. “We are living out our witness through our loving actions.” Christian love is communicated through the hands and hearts of team members who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Playgrounds Receive Much-Needed Attention

In nearby Beit Shemesh, we were asked to help repair three kindergartens. When our team of 20 volunteers arrived, the teachers asked that the playground equipment be repaired.  Everything was in a state of disrepair. After a week of work, during which much bright-colored paint was applied, the playground looked entirely different. The children were overjoyed by the change. With tears in her eyes, Orly, a young teacher, couldn’t stop saying, “Todah, todah, todah!” (“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”). Not only were the teachers impacted, but also the parents. As they picked up their children, they were seen admiring the new play area, and many came to our volunteers and expressed their appreciation.

The kindergartens, located in needy areas, hadn’t received much attention in the recent years of economic stress. Sadly, we discovered that many of the children from these poor families often come to kindergarten hungry. With too-small budgets, snacks are not always provided. At the end of the week, we found out, the teachers (who receive very small salaries) often spend their own money to provide meager snacks; so our big-hearted volunteers all donated their leftover snack food. We also encouraged the teachers to apply for regular food deliveries from the Bridges for Peace Food Bank to be able to provide for the children.

Can You Help?

Your donation to the Repairers of the Breach program will make it possible for us to send teams into more homes, schools, and old-age clubs to repair the broken-down walls of Jerusalem and other towns in Israel. With your hearts to give and the willing hands of our skilled workers, relationships will be built as walls are rebuilt. Please send your generous donation today.

Are you a skilled worker?  We need painters, plasterers, electricians, plumbers, and general handymen. Can you give your time and energy to minister to the people of Israel?  You can come for as little as a month or stay for much longer. If you are interested, contact your national office for an application form or click on “Volunteering” on the home page of our Web site (www.bridgesforpeace.com). James says that the repair-team members have the best job in Bridges for Peace, because they can directly touch the people where they live, showing them the love of God in action.

As the Scripture says, “‘You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings’” (Isaiah 58:12b).

Source: By Rebecca J. BrimmerInternational Executive Director (CEO)

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