Australian and Israeli flags were flying in the breeze as joyful Hebrew music played and hundreds of school-age children clapped along. The elementary school in Beit Shemesh was humming with excitement as we walked in with the Australian ambassador to Israel. The town was rolling out the red carpet for his visit. At the same time, BFP volunteers from Australia were working at the school: cleaning, painting, creating playground decorations, and tutoring students in English. The ambassador heard of this activity and came to see the Australian–Israeli cooperative venture for himself.
For the past several years, we have been working with the town of Beit Shemesh through our Adopt an Israeli Town Program. One hundred families receive food each month from Bridges for Peace. We have also arranged for many volunteer groups to participate in relationship-building projects in the city of 80,000 inhabitants. Most recently, through the generosity of Christians in several countries, we donated a computer lab to one of the schools. Mayor Moshe Abutbul was on hand to dedicate the room. A few days later, I received a very warm letter from him:
Dear Mrs. Brimmer:
It was a pleasure for me to meet you and your staff in Beit Shemesh on the occasion of the visit of the Australian volunteers, the Australian ambassador, and the dedication of the computer room in the Adayahu school.
I cannot overestimate the importance of the gift of [the] Bridges for Peace computer room, built in partnership with Keren Shemesh, the Beit Shemesh Foundation for the children in the Adayahu school. The friends and supporters of Bridges for Peace have opened up new opportunities for our children and have given them tools to enable them to fulfill their dreams.
The entire community of Beit Shemesh values the partnership you have established with the schools in our city, and I sincerely hope that we “go from strength to strength.”
Mayor, Beit Shemesh
When we started the Adopt an Israeli Town Program, it was with the hope that God would use the program to show Israelis all over Israel that Christians are praying for them, supporting them, and standing with Israel in small and great ways. That is happening in Beit Shemesh and, to one degree or another, in the other 17 towns that we sponsor.
Mazkeret Batya is a small town (8,600 inhabitants) located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. One of the oldest towns in Israel, it is named after Batya Rothschild, the mother of Baron Rothschild, who financed the establishment of the town. For several years, we have been delivering food there for 100 families. Recently, my husband Tom and I and BFP Chairman of the Board Jess Gibson and his wife Paula were invited to visit with the mayor.
As we met, he stretched out his arms in welcome and said, “We love you, we love you.” Month after month, for years, we have been faithfully showing up with food, smiles, and love. Now the town of Mazkeret Batya has decided to honor Bridges for Peace on Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) in April.
When we first started “adopting” towns, we were met with some initial suspicion. At least one town decided they didn’t want to work with Christians. The sad history of Christian–Jewish relations throughout many centuries was too real in their hearts to enable them to receive friendship and food from Christians.
In each town we work with, these attitudes are slowly changing, as we show unconditional love to the people. Our good works, friendly handshakes, smiles, and encouraging words are fulfilling the words of Yeshua (Jesus): “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). That is my prayer—that God would be glorified in everything we do.
The Adopt an Israeli Town Program is now working with 18 mayors in communities all across Israel. In most of these towns, we are providing monthly food allotments for 100 families, which the mayor and social welfare workers identify. In order to provide this level of meaningful support, we need 24 individuals, prayer groups, or churches who will commit to giving monthly for one year to support their town.
Each sponsor receives a full-color information piece about their town. If a sponsoring group comes to Israel on tour, we will arrange a visit to their town and, if possible, be greeted by the mayor or his/her representative. In more than one instance, we have also arranged for a sponsoring group to spend a period of time in the town doing volunteer work. Each such encounter further strengthens the new bonds which God is weaving between Christians and Jews.
Please pray about becoming a town sponsor. We urgently need sponsors as several towns are under-sponsored at the present time. We understand that not everyone can commit to give every month. If that is the case for you, we encourage you to donate to our food programs. Each month, over 26,000 people receive food from Christians through Bridges for Peace. Your gift can provide life-giving sustenance and bring reconciliation to centuries-old wounds.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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