A 6.7 point earthquake that struck Manipur, India early in January devastated many of the B’nei Menashe Jews. Thankfully, loss of life was minimal, but property damage was significant. Many lost everything and need basic supplies—water, food, medicine and shelter.
For the past few years we have been helping to bring them home to Israel, a costly endeavor. Nearly 30 million US dollars will be needed to bring the remaining 7,000 to Israel. Just this week we were overjoyed to receive the news that Israel has granted visas for the next 700 to come in 2016. This is one tenth of the total waiting to make aliyah (immigrate), and will cost about three million dollars. Thanks to the contributions of many Christians we are able to help make this happen. We hope many of them will be able to arrive in March and experience their first Passover in Israel.
But, some whose names are next on the list to receive visas have been devastated by this earthquake. Others have to wait their turn, which may be several years. Their lives are now in shambles. They are being forced to rebuild living quarters and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. After his home was ruined in the earthquake, Aviel Thouthang wrote, “As the head of my family in the village of Saikul, I do the best I can to look after my wife and children by earning a daily wage. The earthquake has left my family with great damages. It will be really hard for me to move on from this.”
This week I received a call from Michael, our Israeli partner who asked if there is any way we can give more to the project than usual. Not only is there the pressing need to bring the B’nei Menashe home to Israel, and to care for them in their crucial first year in the Land, but now there is the need to help them survive until they can get on the plane to Israel.
Most of the Jewish people currently in Israel are from the tribe of Judah. God has been calling them home from the four corners of the earth. How we rejoice in their return! We pray for them, we assist them in their aliyah (immigration), and we provide them with food as they reestablish themselves in their ancient homeland! But what about the ten tribes of Israel? Until relatively recent times they were considered lost. Today a couple of these tribes have been rediscovered and are returning home to Israel. The Ethiopian Jews believe that they are from the Tribe of Dan, and the B’nei Menashe from the tribe of Manasseh.
In biblical times the twelve tribes of Israel split into two kingdoms—Judah (two tribes) and Israel (10 tribes). The ten tribes were taken into captivity by Assyria 2,600 years ago, much earlier than the kingdom of Judah (tribes of Judah and Benjamin) who were taken captive by Babylon. The ten tribes never returned—until now! The prophets speak often of the time when God will bring back the Jewish people. Several passages speak of both Judah and Israel. “And He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel [10 northern tribes] and gather together the dispersed of Judah [two southern tribes] from the four corners of the earth…There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.” (Isa. 11:12,16)
This is not just a nice project! God is fulfilling His promises to bring all His people home—including the B’nei Menashe. I am privileged to partner with Him, and I hope you will join me in prayer and financial support. Your gift will help us bring them home, provide for their needs upon arrival, and provide emergency assistance for those who are waiting their turn to be part of the miracle of the return of the Jewish people to Israel. Partner with us as we partner with God.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO
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