EVERY DAY, we see many people who are in distress. They are new immigrants without work, children who have lost a parent, mayors who feel the pain of their community, Holocaust survivors in their waning years. Old and young, they come to us for assistance. The fear, emotional pain, physical infirmity, financial instability, and hunger they face are truly distressing. Although constantly under threat of war and terror, Israel has absorbed millions of Jews from around the world, but not without great cost. The state simply is unable to provide for everyone at the depth of the need.
Consider the fact that 25% of the population of Israel lives in poverty. Through the mercy and grace of God, many such Israeli families are welcoming our assistance and friendship, given with unconditional love. I am blessed to know that God has honored Bridges for Peace by asking us to be His hands extended in mercy and love to the people of Israel.
The psalmist talks about the Lord’s response to those who are distressed; “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble and He delivered them out of their distresses, and He led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps. 107:1–9). Repeatedly in this psalm, it says that the Lord delivers, saves, heals, and brings them out of their distresses.
This week I sat in the office of the mayor of Safed. Mayor Shochat has great hopes for his town, one of the oldest in Israel. Currently, however, more than 40% rely on social assistance for their basic needs. The food Bridges for Peace provides for 50 families is literally a lifesaver. Paulette, the head of social welfare, had tears in her eyes as she thanked us and, at the same time, entreated us to add more families to the monthly budget. In every town, so many people are distressed, and I long to show them the mercy of the Lord.
We, the staff at Bridges for Peace, and you, the ones the Lord called to stand with us, are part of this deliverance from distress. We are the hands and feet of the Lord to the Jewish people in Israel. We want to give you a glimpse of our lives here.
Richard Madden is a volunteer at the BFP Assistance Center in Jerusalem. He is part of the food bank team that receives large pallets of canned goods, fresh produce, and dairy products and prepares them for delivery to those in distress. Here is his firsthand account of how he was able to touch someone in distress.
“On a hot day during this Passover season, there was a ring from the doorbell at the front entrance to the food bank. At the door, I saw an older lady standing and realized by her dress that she was most likely a new immigrant, or, at least, had fallen on some hard times. As I gestured her to enter, using a language we both understand—a smile—(I speak only English and she does not), I felt a love in my heart for this woman I do not know. A simple smile with God’s love is the glue that holds this operation together.
“She received my smile and the love behind it, and upon returning a smile, I saw the warmest look of love from her eyes—more than I have seen in some time. Our spirits greeted one another on another plane, another dimension, which only rescuer and victim can sense. As I ushered her to a chair for her to rest and gave her a glass of cool water, she seemed genuinely appreciative of this simple kindness. I found the proper volunteer to speak with her, and her needs were met as best we could. When she left a short time later, she seemed happier, leaving with a glimmer of hope and eyes that continued to express her sincere gratitude. What a wonderful feeling to help God’s people! That is what I came to Israel for.”
Yeshua said, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink…inasmuch as you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me” (Matt. 25:34–35, 40).
Pieter Marais, our Israel Operations Director, tells us this story:
“During Passover (Pesach), we always have increased requests for assistance as the costs to provide the Passover foods are quite high. This Pesach, many ultra-Orthodox families knocked on our doors for provisions. Five or more rabbis visited us during the time leading up to Pesach. All were received with honor and a glass of water and could not thank us enough for what we are doing for their people. All of them were telling us of the poverty that many families are living in, and for strangers to help them with the feast was very new to them.
“One said ‘Do you know you are fulfilling prophecy? Maybe the Messiah is coming soon.’ When I told them we have been doing this for the last 35 years, he was even more amazed. ‘Why do we only know about you now?’ My reply was that God’s time is always perfect. All of them came with five to eight very extreme cases of needy families in their communities. This is nothing short of a BIG miracle and God’s faithfulness, as even two years ago, this simply did not happen. What a privilege to be God’s hand extended at this time here in Israel.”
Thank you for being part of God’s plan to bring deliverance and healing to the distressed among the Jewish people, as He is bringing them home to Israel from the north, south, east and west in fulfillment of His ancient promises. Psalm 107 ends with these words: “Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock. The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth. Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”
Please pray about what God wants you to do to meet the food needs of the people of Israel. Together, our food projects are changing attitudes, bringing deliverance to the distressed, and showing the lovingkindness of God to the people of Israel. Please join us in being a part of Bible prophecy! We are praying that you will experience the blessing of God as you bless the people of Israel.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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