On one hand the icy fingers of winter have entered our homes, while on the other, the geopolitical temperature in the region heated up in a hurry after Iran attacked the US embassy in Baghdad and President Donald Trump responded with the assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. Suddenly Israel, although not directly involved in the issues, found itself to be the object of a rash of new, significant threats. The Iron Dome defense system was moved to the north as the threat level was elevated to new heights. In our congregation, emergency response information packs were distributed, and the leadership called for urgent prayer. Talk of the battle of Gog and Magog was heard from both Christians and Jews. At the present time, there is great unrest. We pray for peace and prepare for war.
At the same time, torrential rains accompanied by high winds and biting cold hit Israel. We love rain here, but we received too much at once, overloading the drainage infrastructure. Flooding ensued in many communities, and tragically there were several deaths. We were shocked to learn that two 25-year-olds were trapped in an elevator in an underground parking garage and died in the floodwaters before help could arrive.
Many in poorly heated apartments are shivering. Sometimes the only heat source they have is a hot water bottle. The elderly Holocaust survivors and newly arrived immigrants are particularly ill prepared to deal with these problems, which are worse than just uncomfortable. A number of years ago while delivering food, one of our volunteers saw an old woman lying on the floor shivering as she tried to warm herself with a thin towel. She was a new immigrant and they had no household goods. The volunteer came back to our Assistance Center and told us we had to get blankets. That started our blanket distribution program. Since then we have given thousands of blankets to new immigrants.
These are crisis times. Whether the crisis is the existential threat of a militant Iran or the threat of hypothermia, the needs are real and pressing.
For decades Bridges for Peace has been here in Israel, standing with the people through many challenging times. Recently a young immigrant couple came to our Karmiel Assistance Center to receive welcome gifts. They brought their grandmother and their four-year-old daughter. They enthusiastically received the gifts (pots and pans, a Bible, school supplies for the child and blankets). Their grandmother, who had come to Israel seven years earlier, exclaimed that she remembered her arrival and receiving her first gifts in Israel—from Bridges for Peace. We are here from generation to generation, showing God’s love in practical ways. The blankets came at the perfect time for this young family, just before the blustery cold winter rains.
We don’t know what the future holds. Will there be a war with Iran? Will the situation escalate, involving many nations, like the Gog and Magog war prophesied in Ezekiel? We do know that God has placed Bridges for Peace here “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)—a time of crisis, a time of balagan, a time of need. Will you stand with Israel? Will you partner with us to show the Jewish people they are not alone? Will you help us provide warm blankets and respond in time of war? Your generous gifts to our Immigrant Welcome Gifts will allow us to continue giving many more blankets, and your gifts to our Crisis Assistance Fund will allow us to meet grave needs in crisis time. Join with us to bring the warmth of God’s love into these cold, frightening times.
Blessings from Israel,
International President and CEO
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