“‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:1–2).
Each year before Israel’s Independence Day, we remember the fallen of Israel (whether in war or through terror) on Yom HaZikaron (The Day of Remembrance). As Christians who love God and rejoice over the reborn State of Israel, we often don’t realize the deep cost that statehood has required.
As of May 2017, 23,544 soldiers have paid the ultimate cost, and 3,117 civilians have been killed in acts of terrorism. Israel has 9,157 bereaved parents, 4,881 widows, and 1,843 orphans under the age of 30. More than 100,000 are wounded or disabled from the ongoing conflict. On Remembrance Day the entire country mourns. My first year in Israel I was astonished at the depth of connectedness in the country. I would read of a death in the paper, and someone in the kibbutz (communal settlement) dining room would be crying. Israel is a big family, and the depth of mourning is deep.
The Lord has called Bridges for Peace to be comforters of those who mourn in Zion. Every year we take food and supplies to grieving families as they sit and mourn for seven days after a death. We take gift parcels to the many wounded who are recovering in the hospitals. We help sponsor a camp for children who have lost a family member to terror.
Others in Israel have a heart to help those who mourn. One of them is Yom Tov Samia, a retired general. Every year, with our help, he invites families who have lost a son or daughter to come together for a retreat. The families comfort one another.
One family never came although they were invited every year. Their grief had paralyzed them. Yom Tov called and urged them to come saying he would send a driver and they didn’t have to stay the whole time. After much encouragement, the couple came and stayed for the entire retreat.
A week later their surviving son called saying, “What did you do to my parents? For years, ever since my brother died they have hardly left their apartment. They haven’t come to any holiday celebrations. They don’t come to the birthdays of my children. Their lives stopped when my brother died. They just called me to ask if they could come to my daughter’s fifth birthday. You have given my parents back to our family. Thank you.”
Every year four of our Christian team members attend the event comforting and showing Christian love to those who mourn. God wants to restore the broken hearted. It is our joy to be part of the healing process.
The next retreat is coming up soon. More than 200 families are invited. Sadly, I just had to tell Yom Tov that we don’t have enough funds in our Victims of War fund to contribute at our normal level. He pleaded with me for the sake of the families to find a way to continue. He has already invited the families, has made a contract with a hotel and needs our help. A month later it will be time for the bereaved children’s therapy camp, and we will have to disappoint a lot of children if we don’t have an influx of funds. We need $120 per person coming to the retreat and $60 per child coming to the therapy camp. Your gift will help us to minister to 600 mourning Israelis.
Please join with us today to comfort those that mourn in Israel. The Lord says, “For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them and make them rejoice rather than sorrow ” (Jer. 31:13b)
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
Help us run the race for Israel! Bridges for Peace has 20 volunteers participating in the Jerusalem Marathon this year. Each runner is seeking sponsorship that will be used to reach out with God’s unfailing love to victims of terror. We can show the residents of Jerusalem our unwavering support! Your sponsorship will help us show the love of Christians to those suffering as a result of hatred.
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