“Behold I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them…Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the LORD—for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden and they shall sorrow no more at all…And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:8–9a, 12, 14b)
When getting to know people in Israel, a very common conversation topic is where the person came from, or if they were born in Israel, where their parents came from. You see, Israel is a nation of immigrants. In the late 1800s, there was a very small population in the Land, about 100,000 in total. Today’s population of over 7 million includes many who have fascinating stories to tell, and most often those stories involve hardship like the prophet Jeremiah foretold: “they shall come with weeping.”
I have heard stories of the aliyah (immigration, literal meaning in Hebrew is the ascent or the going up) from Morocco and Yemin in the 1950s, of the aliyah from Ethiopia in the 1980s which continues to this day, and of the mass aliyah from the lands of the North (the former Soviet Union), which began in the 1990s. No matter who is telling the story, it always has elements of hope for a new life mixed with the difficulties of leaving the old homeland, learning a language, finding a job and finally getting to the place where “they shall sorrow no more at all.”
It is one of the joys of my life that God has called Bridges for Peace to be part of the answer to their prayers. We come alongside new immigrants and help make their path to successful absorption possible. We welcome them with gifts for the home—blankets, kitchen supplies, school kits for the children and Tanachs (the Jewish Scriptures) in their own language.
We sponsor many families on our Adoption Program for a year to help them in the early difficult days when they are learning Hebrew and being accustomed to their new homeland. We also help Israelis who have fallen on difficult times for a year enabling them to rise out of the despair that has become their life. Everyone on the program receives regular supplies of food, bus passes which provide unlimited travel, encouragement and help with special needs. Christian sponsors commit to a family or individual for a year. We assign several sponsors to each Adoption Program recipient.
How wonderful that God is allowing us to be part of “satisfying them with His goodness.” Let me tell you a couple of stories of those we are helping currently.
Sergey—with his wife Lyudmila and their two sons Daniel (20) and Arseny (9)—made aliyah from Moscow in 2008. Their eldest son Daniel is mentally handicapped. Arseny, like many others of his age, plays football (soccer) in his free time. Sergey, being a Web designer and a computer specialist, dreamed of finding work in his vocation and knew that the best thing for them as a family was to live in the center of the country. However, rent was so high that they moved to Akko instead where rentals are lower. Sergey soon found out that Akko had limited prospects in his field.
Although Sergey is a top achiever, and professional, he was prepared to work for a low salary, if only he could find a job. Sadly, he had no success. Financial security became a struggle and a heavy burden. Then they found out about Bridges for Peace and the Adoption Program. The much needed support became a light in those dark and difficult months. Not only did the food basket twice a month, as well as the monthly bus passes, save them money, but we also gave them much needed emotional help.
After a few months, Sergey was able to move his family to another city with ample opportunities. This family is a success story. The BFP Adoption Program supported them in a very difficult time of adjustment and settlement in Israel, and today they are succeeding in their Promised Land.
Michaela is an Israeli divorcee who is finding her situation in life very difficult. She is a soldier and an officer in the medical corps. She spends much of her time counseling and helping young soldiers to solve their personal and financial problems. Eight years ago, she married a man who had his own hairdressing business, and she expected to live a comfortable life and raise a family in joy. The reality was different, and after three years of his gambling and deceit, she finally divorced him, leaving their home and taking their two children.
She had nothing—her car, her jewelry, and even her wedding ring was taken from her and sold—and the father makes no contributions for the children or the upkeep of the home. Although Michaela works, she still cannot make ends meet. She is left with a lot of debt from the marriage, a mortgage, and the raising of Ben Raphael (8) and Shoham (6) alone. “What can I do?” Michaela often asks. “I help others all day, but cannot find a solution for my own problems!”
This little family is receiving assistance through the BFP Adoption Program. Michaela recently expressed her thankfulness towards Bridges for Peace and her sponsors in a letter in which she wrote the following: “I am facing a situation where I cannot see a future for my children. They are always with me in this process, and they feel my concern and my helplessness. I am thankful to you for your kindness and for understanding my difficult situation. Your donations help me out a lot to make up for the lack of provision for my children.”
It is prophesied that the nations (non Jews) would help to bring the Jewish people home. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;’” (Isaiah 49:22). In Isaiah 62:10, the prophet says, “Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!”
Today, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to be those God uses to bring His people home and help them become established in their Promised Land. I encourage you to pray about sponsoring a new immigrant or needy Israeli on the Adoption Program. Or give them a gift to help them get started through the Immigrant Welcome Gifts program. Together we can make a difference in their lives as the Lord dries their tears and satisfies them with His goodness.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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