We were in Karmiel recently to arrange for a concert by a professional Christian choir from Japan. The choir will participate in the March of the Living in Poland, a silent trek from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day in April, and then come to Israel, as many Jewish people did at the end of World War II. The BFP Japan office is sponsoring the choir’s trip. Their goal while in Israel will be to show comfort to Jewish refugees from Ukraine. Many refugees who fled the war for the safety of Israel have gravitated to the northern city of Karmiel, as it is Russian language friendly.
The Karmiel Municipality welcomed us with warmth. They were happy to arrange the concert, and even have a special love for the nation of Japan. In fact, the office of Mayor Moshe Kuninski features some Japanese art pieces! Building relationships between Christians and Jews is a key part of our vision, so this event is a wonderful opportunity. The mayor invited our team into his office. The reason? To ask if we could provide gifts for 500 immigrant units (families or singles) who have recently arrived in the city with nothing. We had planned to give 100 such gift sets, including blankets, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and a copy of the Tanakh (Old Testament) in Russian and Hebrew. Yet we simply didn’t have the budget to increase the numbers to 500. The mayor and the Social Welfare department pleaded with us, saying that they were not receiving help from anyone else. Our Israel Operations Director Patrick Verbeten left the meeting with a heavy heart. You see, we hear this same request from communities all over Israel. Patrick knew we didn’t have enough in our Immigrant Welcome Gifts fund to cover 500 gift sets. We have given such gifts to so many new immigrants, and yet so many more are in need. However, when we discussed Karmiel’s request in our senior leaders meeting, we decided to say “yes”—and then pray that God would supply the funds.
Jewish immigration (aliyah) to Israel has soared in the past year and shows no signs of slowing down. Over 70,000 new immigrants arrived in 2022, stretching the resources of the nation of Israel as well as ministries like Bridges for Peace. Everyone is expecting 2023 to be another record year for aliyah, which means that resources will be stretched even more to meet the growing need.
The prophet Isaiah issued the clarion call, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” (40:1). And the apostle James said, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:15–17). We want to comfort! We do not want to ignore the needs. So we cry out to the Lord to supply the funds we need to buy blankets, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and Russian/Hebrew Tanakhs (Old Testament).
Will you help us comfort the immigrants? Your gifts to our Immigrant Welcome Gifts fund will help us say “yes” to those who have nothing. Not everyone can come and warm their hearts with music, but everyone can show love and give comfort though our Immigrant Welcome Gifts. We can provide warm blankets for every person in the family. We can provide spiritual food through the gift of a Tanakh. We can give them some of the staples they need to stock their empty apartments. And then our Japanese friends will feed their souls with beautiful music.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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