“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you
lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and
there I will be buried…” (Ruth 1:16-17a NASB)
Dear Prayer Partners,
This past weekend, Jewish people worldwide read the book of Ruth as part of their Shavuot holiday. One of the most moving pledges of loyalty in the Bible appears above, when Ruth vows to follow her mother-in-law Naomi as she returns from exile in Moab back to Judea.
Those of us who love God and stand with His people, in both good times and bad, often are asked by Israelis: ‘Why are you blessing our nation? What keeps you here? Why the sacrifice?’ They recognise this is a tough neighbourhood and are puzzled why we stay by their side!
Indeed, there has been much tension and turmoil in Israel of late. The recent round of rocket attacks in southern Israel reminded us of this once again, as some 1500 rockets rained down on Israeli cities. Over the years, the ICEJ has placed 191 bomb shelters in vulnerable communities, with another six waiting to be delivered soon. These shelters let Israelis know they are not alone. When we provide educational opportunities for young people so they can get good jobs, or upgrade a children’s home, or offer vocational training to new immigrants – we assure them that we care. It is like saying: “Your people are my people.”
Lately, it has been stressful on many fronts and Israel seems to be at a crossroads. The Community Stress Prevention Center (CSPC) recently reported a 40% increase in applications for treatment. The director, Yiftach Benbenisti, noted: “We have reached a new peak where people who have never called for help before … are now calling with fears, anxiety, depression, and most of all helplessness about when it will all end.” It is at times like this that one wants friends and family close by.
And it is in these tough times that our support is more deeply felt, and we can show our firm commitment and friendship. As one Israeli friend recently asked with great perplexity, “Why are you doing all this for us?” “Because we love Israel”, did not seem a good enough answer for him, so he repeated the question with even greater intensity… “Why?” Though it may make no logical sense to them, the “why” is simply that we have been very blessed through the Jewish people – so we want to bless them in return. Also, we love the God of Israel and are excited to work alongside Him in the role He has given us. We are to be ‘Watchmen on the walls’ (Isaiah 62:6); to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6); to carry them home on Aliyah (Isaiah 49:22-23); to help them settle here in the Land (Jeremiah 32:41); to comfort them (Isaiah 40:1-2) and to build the walls of Zion (Isaiah 60:10). Thank you for your prayers and generosity of heart, as together we continue the legacy of Ruth – Gentiles choosing to be faithful as close family to this people and to serve our God together.
Blessings from Jerusalem!
Nicole Y. Yoder
Vice President of Aid & Aliyah
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem