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“With All My Heart and Soul”

March 21, 2023

by: Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO

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Celebrating 100,000 Homecomings

Scripture is full of God’s promises to return the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to their ancient homeland. Jeremiah 32:37–44 is a beautiful description of His heart and plans. In verse 41, the Lord promises, “Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.”


We are thrilled to say that working with our partner, Ezra International, Project Rescue has now helped more than 100,000 Jewish people from the nations come home to Israel. Let me tell you how it happened.

The Beginning

In 1995, God spoke to a businessman named Mel Hoelzle, urging him to help bring the Jewish people home from their dispersion. That is how Ezra International became a reality. God gave Mel a vision of connected lights and told him that it would be ministries working together to fulfill God’s promises and to give God the glory. It would be a widespread and humble work that would have great success as long as everyone involved knew that it was God’s plan. He would receive all the glory.

Mel came to Jerusalem and met with various Israel-related ministries, including Bridges for Peace, to share his vision. At that time, I served as an executive assistant and was asked to pick up a man standing on the street in front of one of Jerusalem’s landmark buildings. I had no idea what he looked like, but somehow we found each other. Mel came and shared the vision. It was agreed that Bridges for Peace would make an appeal to our mailing list, asking our subscribers to help with aliyah (immigration to Israel). We were astonished at the response. Christians all over the world continue to this day to give to help bring the Jewish people home. The vision was to help those who couldn’t afford to get to Israel on their own. It started in the former Soviet Union, and gradually expanded so that today it includes countries in South America. Bridges for Peace continues working in partnership with Ezra International and other ministries, just as God showed Mel.

A Network of Fishers

The prophet Jeremiah talks about the return of the Jewish people, saying, “‘Behold, I will send for many fishermen,’ says the Lord, ‘and they shall fish them…’” (Jer. 16:16a). Ezra International soon started mobilizing teams. God raised up believers in the former Soviet Union countries who had a vision to help the Jewish people. We call them fishers. None of them were wealthy or powerful, but they were called and dedicated to the task. They were trained and taught the Scriptures about Israel and the return (aliyah). Mel and these teams visited towns and villages throughout the former Soviet Union to host Israel meetings, inviting anyone who was interested. They would show a movie in Russian about Israel, sing Israeli songs and then encourage anyone who was Jewish and wanted to go to Israel to speak with our team in the lobby. In this simple, humble way, we began to help the Jewish people.

It Cost Money

The funds we raised were used to pay for genealogical searches. People had to be able to prove to the Israeli officials that they were Jewish to be granted citizenship under the Law of Return. It wasn’t easy. During the Nazi and then the Stalin eras, it was dangerous to be Jewish or to be a person of faith. People hid their backgrounds by changing their surnames and not practicing their faith in front of their children. It was a matter of life and death. However, like the Nazis, the Soviets were good at keeping records. Our fishers were trained to go into the paper archives in towns and villages from one end of the former Soviet Union to the other to search out family backgrounds. We then paid for visas so that people would be granted the necessary documentation to leave. They also needed help getting to the airport, so we transported them. Some needed help paying outstanding bills, like electricity accounts. Others lacked clothing and shoes, which we provided. Each person and family received tailor-made treatment to address their individual situation. Our files are full of their unique stories.

A Process

It wasn’t something that happened instantly. It was not unusual to work with a family for several years before they could come to Israel. One by one, our team assisted them, and finally they began to arrive in Israel. Each month, we rejoiced to see the numbers grow. Year followed year, and God partnered with Christians to fulfill His covenant promises. This was always God’s plan! “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will lift up My hand in an oath to the nations [goyim or gentiles], and set up My standard for the peoples [amim or nations]; they will bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders’” (Isa. 49:22).

That is exactly what is happening. Christians helped these Jewish people get ready to go while they were still in their homeland. Then Christians helped pay for their transportation. When they arrived in Israel, Christians welcomed them. Thousands of new immigrants have received blankets, pots and pans as well as a copy of the Tanakh (Old Testament) through our Immigrant Welcome Gifts program. Through our Adoption Program, Christians have provided thousands with food, encouragement, bus passes and more.

At every step in these Jewish peoples’ journey home, God had stationed believers to help them forward. God called Mel home to heaven last year, but the work he started continues to bear fruit. The network continues with strength. God is bringing the Jewish people home, and He is doing it with His whole heart and soul. We rejoice over the 100,000 new immigrants that we have had the privilege of helping. At the same time, we rejoice that more Jewish people continue to come as we work with the Lord and the network of believers.

Blessings from Jerusalem,

Rebecca J. Brimmer

International President and CEO

Photo Credit: Click on photo to see photo credit

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