Special Reports

ICEJ Life-Vest Saves Israeli Policeman in Knife Attack

On Sunday, a volunteer in the Israeli police force was attacked by a terrorist who tried to stab him with a knife.The policeman was wearing one of the ICEJ-sponsored vests, which saved his life. "The vest protected me,” he told paramedics on the scene. As a result, they only needed to treat a wound in his hand.

The wounded policeman was a volunteer patrolling the streets and, until last week, he did so without the life-saving vest. But a few days ago, he received a life-vest from the ICEJ, and yesterday it saved his life! Praise the Lord!

Last month, the ICEJ was approached by the Jerusalem Municipality with a request to sponsor life-saving vests for their personnel. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters around the globe, the ICEJ was able to quickly respond and purchase a large number of these vests for the servicemen and women who patrol the streets of Jerusalem.

The ICEJ is at work providing support services to terror victims throughout Israel. The ICEJ-sponsored life-vests are provided to those who watch out for the safety of Israelis and tourists in the streets, such as security guards on trains, in parks and around the important tourist sites in Jerusalem.

By partnering with the ICEJ to protect the residents of Jerusalem, you can show the Israeli people that Christians are concerned about their safety. When Israel is in need, the ICEJ is among the first to help!

You can have an impact on the Israeli society at this difficult time. Partner with us and donate to our Israel in Crisis Fund today. 

The Season Of Giving

Hanukkah

With the Hanukkah holidays approaching, residents of the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors will be celebrating this winter holiday in their safe, warm environment. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is celebrated around Israel with lighting of the candles and enjoying holiday sweets called sufganyot – a special Israeli doughnut with filling inside.

At the Haifa Home, their brand new recreational facility is a tremendous blessing - especially during the holidays. A variety of activities are held daily in the hall; drinking coffee with friends, going to the gym, or entertaining guests from Israel and abroad. For special events or celebrations, like holidays, the facility also serves as a reception hall.

One of the residents shared with us while drinking coffee with her neighbor: “I do not understand that in this time of unrest in the Land I feel so relaxed and at peace. It probably has to do with the fact that many people pray for us.”

Shimon Sabag, Director of the Home, often calls the Haifa Home, “God’s Home.” To run a Home like this completely on private donations from people in Israel and abroad is quite a challenge.  

Christmas

In partnership with local Arab pastors and churches, the ICEJ will sponsor holiday gatherings and distribute Christmas gifts to many needy Christian families in the cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth. The children in these Christian communities will receive Christmas packages with clothing and toys.

The Christian residents of both Bethlehem and Nazareth are immensely proud to live in cities where Jesus was born and raised. Because of this the Christmas season is especially important to them. In early December, the municipality of Bethlehem starts decorating the streets with lights and signs. This is the cue for all the stores to begin decorating as well. Around the 20th of the month big Christmas parties start. The ICEJ wants to make sure that the Christian families in this land are well prepared for this special season!  

Your gift today will also help us bless needy Christian families in Jerusalem and Nazareth with food coupons, so they can celebrate together around a Christmas meal. At the same time, by making a donation at this time you can bless the nation of Israel just in time for Hanukkah!  

The Crying Ruler of Egypt

According to Jewish tradition there are two main prototypes of Messiah in the Old Testament.

The more prominent prototype is the person of David. Both Jews and Christians see the Messiah in the tradition of the great King of Israel. People on the streets of Israel referred to Jesus as “son of David,” indicating their recognition of his messianic credentials.

But, there is another prototype of Messiah which is less well known and parallels to the life of Jesus are equally striking, and that is Joseph, the son of Jacob, whose life is recorded in Genesis, chapters 37-50.

Messiah Son of Joseph

The Talmud in the tractate Sanhedrin refers to Messiah ben Yosef (Hebrew for “son of Joseph”) in a most remarkable manner. The passage refers to the prophecy of Zechariah which foresees all Israel mourning “as one mourns for his only begotten son” (Zec. 12:10f). In that context the Talmud answers the question, “What was the reason for the mourning?” with: “It is on account of the Messiah, the son of Joseph, who was killed.” The Talmud also gives a reason for why he was killed: Because of “the evil inclination of men.” Amazingly, the passage is followed by a prayer for his resurrection.

A Prototype of The Suffering and Resurrected Christ

The life of Joseph in the Bible contains many astonishing parallels to the life of Jesus and his story climaxes in a most powerful way with the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers, the sons of Jacob.

We are introduced to Joseph when he is 17 years old (Gen. 37). This gifted young man became his father’s favorite and because of that was envied and even hated by his brothers. When Joseph recklessly shared with his family two dreams he had, in which his brothers and his parents bowed down to him, their hatred grew so strong that they refused to greet Joseph and started plotting to kill him.

As their plans for evil developed, Joseph was rescued from death at the last minute by one of his brothers, only to be handed over to gentile Ishmaelites by the other brothers. They sold Joseph for 20 shekels to a caravan carrying spices to Egypt and then told their father Jacob that his favorite son was dead. Joseph was brought as a slave to Egypt and eventually was falsely convicted and put in an Egyptian prison.

Joseph was miraculously “resurrected” out of this most desperate condition and raised to the highest position in the land. Joseph became the right hand of Pharaoh, ruler of the ancient world who was considered a deity by his subjects. Pharaoh set Joseph over the whole land of Egypt, clothed him in royal clothes, and declared to all of Egypt that if they heard Joseph speak they were to obey and worship him as if he was Pharaoh himself (Gen. 41:40ff).

The story of Jesus is very similar. We read that Jesus was the “beloved son” of his Father in Heaven (Matt. 3:17). He came into his own country but they would not receive him and his own countrymen even planned to kill him. Jesus was sold for 30 shekels and handed over to the Gentiles (Romans). He died on the cross and his disciples wrapped his body in spices and laid him in a tomb. When He was miraculously raised from the dead, Jesus sat at the right hand of the Father and all authority was given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

The Family Reunion

The story of Joseph tells us that a terrible drought visited the earth and through Joseph’s leadership, Egypt became the only place where bread was available. Consequently all nations came to Joseph. “So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands” (Genesis 41:57). In many ways Joseph became the savior of the ancient world, very much like Jesus has become the savior of the world as “every tribe and nation” comes to Him to receive the Bread of Life.

As the drought continued, the climax of the story unfolded when one day ten Canaanite tribesmen arrived in Egypt in search of food (Gen 42). Joseph immediately recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph didn’t look like a son of the Hebrews. On the contrary, his appearance must have been that of typical Egyptian royalty. To add to the mystery, Joseph talked to his brothers through an interpreter.

There is much more to this amazing story, but one important thread runs through the entire story of Joseph, which is his emotional attitude toward his brothers, as well as Pharaoh’s response to Joseph’s family. When Joseph sees his brothers for the first time, he could have reacted in many ways. It was his brothers who were responsible for the most traumatic experiences in his life – the family betrayal, slavery, and imprisonment. As they all stood before him, he could have considered it as a divine appointment for revenge but he chose not to seek it.

The Weeping Ruler

At his first encounter with his brothers Joseph reacted emotionally. “And he turned himself away from them and wept…” (Gen. 42:24). The biblical account of Joseph’s reconciliation with his own family describes seven separate instances of him weeping, more than any other person recorded in the Bible. Even after so many difficult years, the heart of Joseph was full of compassion and love for his family. He recognized the rejection of his brothers had, in reality, fulfilled God’s intention (Gen. 45:5).

Today God is restoring Jesus’ biological family: His Jewish brothers and sisters. Like Joseph’s family, the restoration of Israel is a matter which is central to God’s heart. Israel’s modern day restoration is not just a footnote at the bottom of God’s agenda for the world.
On the contrary! The prophet Zechariah declares: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her. Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem’.” (Zec. 8:1f).

In spite of everything which had happened to him, Joseph was still attached to his own family and Jesus is still passionate about his fellow Jews who have and are still returning to the land of Israel. This raises the important question: If Jesus is passionate about Israel, are we?

As the bride of Christ, a passion for Jesus’ family needs to be our priority as well. Any married couple can affirm that an important ingredient of a healthy marriage is caring for and being affectionate toward our spouse’s family. Too many Christians today belong to the bride of Christ, yet could not care less about the physical brothers and sisters of Jesus. We regularly visit our family members, even if they don’t hold the same beliefs as we do. Paul calls the Jewish people “beloved for the sake of the fathers,” (Rom 11:28) even if they may be “enemies of the gospel.” Loving Israel is not optional, it must be a part of any healthy relationship with Jesus.

Love Made Public

Even more fascinating is how Joseph’s emotional reaction to his brothers develops. “…Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out…” (Genesis 43:30–31). The first two times when Joseph wept, he did so in secret. Only a few servants around him were aware of his strong emotional reaction. But as the story unfolds, Joseph reached a point where he could no longer keep his feelings secret.

“Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone go out from me!’ So no one stood with him when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it” (Genesis 45:1–2).

Eventually the entire kingdom of Egypt understood that Joseph was not a Gentile like them, rather he had a family who were Hebrews. If we look at the history of the church, for many centuries the Israel-awareness was often in “a hidden chamber.” For many long years, very few Christians understood the heartbeat of God toward the Jewish people. Surmising that the church had replaced the Jews in God’s plan, the majority of them were indifferent or worse, believed there to be no future for the Jews.

Today, a dramatic shift is taking place within the church. Wherever we go around the world we see churches and even entire denominations aligning themselves with what God is doing in Israel like never before. This is true in particular for the centers of revival in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. For them, standing with Israel is a part of what defines a believer We also see it happening in the churches and denominations in the West. Jesus’ passion and His love for His people has gone public in the house of God.

Pharoah Reacts 

Finally, it is also of central importance to us, how Pharaoh saw and reacted to the family reunion of his most trusted right hand man. Again, there were many ways he could have responded. He could have tried to keep Joseph’s Jewish ancestry a secret or he could have said: “Joseph, it is great that your family is here, but we are facing a global crisis! Our people and the whole world need to be fed. Stay focused!”

This would have been a very logical reaction given the crisis in the land of Egypt at that time. It reminds me of a response I recently received from a pastor of large church with thousands of members, when I asked what they, as a church body, were doing for Israel: “Jürgen, you do not know how busy we are in our church. We have several hundred home groups, we care for the homeless and women in prostitution, and we reach virtually every segment of our city. We honestly do not have room for Israel.”

In contrast, let us look at what Pharaoh said in the midst of a global crisis:

“Now the report of it was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, ‘Joseph’s brothers have come.’ So it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. […] ‘Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land’” (Genesis 45:16–18).

It pleased Pharaoh! Joseph’s family was not an additional burden. We can imagine him saying: “I must meet this family, who brought forth a son that blessed my nation so greatly!” He wanted to learn who they were and eagerly welcomed them. Not only that, he also called for an immediate action: “I will give you the best! They need to eat the fat of the land!” In the midst of a crisis, when resources were scarce, Pharaoh released the best for Joseph’s family.

Conclusion

Recently I heard Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Texas, tell a story to a group of leaders in Jerusalem. God revealed to him why his church and ministry were blessed in such extraordinary ways. God showed him a parable of a father, who had a large family, but out of love and passion for children, the father started adopting many more children. Because of this, many orphanages opened around the world, but in the process, his own children felt neglected. Pastor Morris realized God was telling him: “Robert, I bless your ministry because you took care of my natural children. You bless my family, the Jews, and that’s why I bless you.” According to Pastor Morris, the main reason why God blesses the Gateway Church is because they bless Israel.

The story of Joseph teaches us that God is passionate about His people. Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, God’s love for the Jews has been made public. As with Joseph, Jesus has a very emotional passion for His family and His land. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and I believe He is weeping today. Pharaoh reacted immediately, releasing the best for Joseph’s family. Let us pray and consider with discernment, what can we do to bless the Jewish people who are returning home today after 2000 years. It is a time of restoration and, for us as believers and as the global Church, it is a time to act!  

EU labelling of Israeli products – promoting the Middle East peace process?

On Wednesday, 2 December 2015, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) held a symposium at the European Parliament in Brussels, titled “The Economic Wall of the EU Labelling Move” hosted by MEP Takkula (ALDE, FI) and MEP Belder (ECR, NL). Main speakers included renowned international legal expert, Prof. Avi Bell, Greek Orthodox priest and founder of the Israeli Christian Empowerment Council (ICRF), Father Gabriel Naddaf, and the Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs. Among participants was also Daniel Constanza, Executive Director of PEF (Pentecostal European Fellowship), who published a statement on behalf of 3,5 million Pentecostals in Europe.

MEP Hannu Takkula opened the first session of the symposium, expressing his concerns that the labelling guidelines will have enormous impacts for the EU and Israel relations. “Until now, we have been creating a good base for co-operation between EU and Israel but this labelling move will not only harm the economic relations, but also will have an unfortunate impact on the co-operation in every field.”  

MEP Bas Belder (ECR, NL) noted the mutual high concern by colleague MEPs about the ineffective recent EU labelling move and how it damages EU-Israel relations as well as any prospects for the Middle East peace process. “Which the EU is so naively forcing to restart. The labelling move will certainly not help. It’s counter-productive”, remarked Belder.

A statement by Dr. Jürgen Bühler, Executive Director of ICEJ, was presented which noted that the EU interpretative notice will only divide Israelis and Palestinians further and hurt those it claims to help. “Despite EU efforts to downplay the political nature of the labelling move, it is clear that the guidelines have been formulated to apply pressure on Israelis and they violate the rules of the World Trade Organisation,” said Dr. Bühler ahead of the symposium.

Prof. Avi Bell clarified how the Commission’s interpretative notice violates international law. “While the interpretive notice restricts labels on Israeli products, EU law permits Taiwan and the Palestinian Authority to market products in the EU with ‘made in Taiwan’ and ‘made in Palestine’ labels that contradict EU views on sovereignty, according to which neither is an independent state. Indeed, the same interpretive notice which claims that European consumers will be misled by ‘made in Israel’ labels on Israeli products from Israeli businesses in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, will not be misled by ‘made in Palestine’ labels on identical products made by their Arab neighbours in the Christian quarter of the Old City.”

Father Gabriel Naddaf spoke strongly against the labelling, emphasizing the inevitable harmful outcome: "As a Christian leader, raised in Nazereth, living among the Arab Muslims, I tell you clearly: this decision affects Muslims, Christians, Druze and all other minority citizens of Israel, not just the Jews. This labelling of Israeli products is a further betrayal of Christian values in Europe, and it further weakens the Christian spirit in Europe." Father Naddaf called the move to label Israeli goods “a racist, anti-Semitic decision.”

Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs pointed at the tensions that the recent EU move has created within Europe, with Hungary and Merkel’s party opposing it. “Negativity and hostility always work both ways – internally as well as externally”, Jacobs noted.

MEP Takkula added: “As a member of the WTO, we should follow the equal treatment rule among all of our trade partners. The interpretation we are now guided to follow doesn't fulfil this requirement”. MEP Takkula hopes that Member States of the European union will not make the situation worse with more strict interpretation, but will do their share to help the market gain access to the Palestinian products. MEP Belder stressed that “Israel and the EU equally benefit from the cooperation in security, trade and science and technology sectors – just to name a few. The wide array of relations we share with the Jewish State are essential to Europe.”

In his statement, Dr. Bühler of ICEJ also noted that Israel’s thriving economy has produced a climate of coexistence that is unmatched throughout the Middle East. “It is the only place in the region where [all] can enjoy full democratic rights and equal access to education and economic development,” said Dr. Bühler.

Show Love at the End of the Year

With both Hanukkah and Christmas approaching, the ICEJ is looking to bring comfort and encouragement to the people of the Holy Land this holiday season. Once again, we will be reaching out to Arab Christian communities in the renowned biblical towns of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. As many Christians around the world reflect on the beginning of Jesus’ life in these cities, we want to be there to remind the residents of their Redeemer.

In partnership with local Arab pastors and churches, the ICEJ will sponsor holiday gatherings and distribute Christmas gifts to many needy Christian families. The children in Bethlehem and Nazareth will receive Christmas packages which include clothing and toys.

Your gift today will help us bless the needy Christian families in Jerusalem and Nazareth with food coupons, so they can celebrate together around a Christmas meal.

With your support, we will also bring holiday cheer to holocaust survivors and others in the Jewish community as they celebrate the joy and light of Hanukkah.

Please partner with us to bring comfort and joy to those who need our love and encouragement! 

Adopt a Holocaust Survivor

Last month in the ICEJ Report we recounted the plight of remaining Holocaust survivors who live in Israel. The warm atmosphere of the Haifa Home brings joy and healing to over 70 of these elderly Israelis on a daily basis.

Every resident of the home carries a unique story of survival. Though they are often traumatic, we listen to these stories and write them down, preserving them so future generations and other nations may learn of this dark chapter in history. As the world is being overcome by new waves of anti-Semitism, the survivors often ask us: Don’t let this happen again.

Bertold and Sofia are husband and wife living at the Haifa Home, but they came from very different worlds.

Bertold was born in Romania 94 years ago. He was taken with his parents to a forced labor camp where they suffered hunger, freezing cold and diseases. His two brothers were killed. After the war he tried to rebuild his life, got married and had two children. Sadly his wife died of cancer years later. 

Sofia’s family came from Kiev, Ukraine. Her father died in a forced labor camp, which left her mother a widow at the age of 24. They also suffered terribly from hunger, diseases and freezing cold. After the war they returned to their home in Kiev, but it had been completely destroyed by bombing so they had to start their life from scratch. Sofia married and immigrated to Israel in 1989. Her husband passed away when she was still young.

A few years later Bertold met Sofia here in Israel and, as they say, it was love at first sight. Bertold sighs: “Sofia is a gift from heaven!”

In their old age they were left with hardly any financial resources. “To our joy we are living now in the Haifa Home and we don’t feel alone,” Bertold explains. “We have someone helping us with our needs and problems, which is wonderful in our old age.”

When residents come to live in the Home, they are usually still independent and relatively healthy. However, since most of them are in their 80s and 90s, we eventually see a decline in their health, which can happen quite suddenly. Therefore we are always looking for creative solutions to meet the unique needs of each resident.

You can help us surround these survivors with security and care! The average monthly cost per resident is USD 2,250.

Speaking Shalom Over War-torn Ukraine

Due to the expansion of our Aliyah work and new open doors in the nations for the ICEJ, we are happy to announce that Serguei Popov, a world-renowned musician, has been appointed to coordinate the work in Eastern Europe and the Stan Countries in central Asia. His heart for Aliyah work is an answer from the Lord for us to be able to move forward in helping the Jewish people to return to Israel.

- Juha Ketola, ICEJ International Director 

 

This summer has been pivotal for the work of ICEJ in Ukraine. New connections have been established as we prepare to help more Jewish people come home to Israel. It is impossible to predict how the situation will develop. Thus ICEJ-Ukraine is preparing for multiple scenarios, bringing help and protection to the Jewish people wherever they can, and assisting in their process of Aliyah.

This year ICEJ is also proud to introduce Dr. Grygorii Komendant as the new ICEJ Representative in Ukraine. Dr. Komendant, a recognized leader in the Christian community of Ukraine, is also the president of the local Bible Society. For many years he has been leading seminars on the topic of Israel at churches and various ministries in the Kiev region, and his heart is overcome by concern for the Jewish people in his home country.

Due to the dire circumstances, the ICEJ is renting a campsite to host Jewish refugees from conflict zones. One of the refugee camps will open in Irpen, a small town 35 km from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. Estimated cost per person is 20 USD per day, which will include three meals a day and accommodation in nice, clean rooms. The facility can house between 100-150 refugees.

“War is not like you see it on TV,” shared Sergey Knyshenko, a local pastor. “Everything is much worse… the fear is so strong that you cannot sleep for weeks. It is hard to talk about those events. They left a mark on my mind. I was twice wounded and spent weeks in the hospital.” 

Today Knyshenko works with Dr. Komendant on the ICEJ team in Ukraine, and has been using even his private resources to help the Jewish people in the country.

“I get back to normal life and continue to serve the Jewish people,” he adds. “I know that God has called me to be part of his (? Should either be His or this) prophecy, where He will gather His people from the four corners of the Earth.”

Ukraine is continuously in need of our prayers. Pray for safety of the Jewish people and everyone involved in ICEJ work, including the process of Aliyah. Support our pioneer work in Ukraine at this essential stage. Donate to this worthy cause to sponsor the Ukrainian Jewry as they make Aliyah to Israel!

Israel in Crisis

THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM were stained with blood this October. Every day people were getting injured or killed in stabbing, or shooting attacks. The hatred of the Oslo generation of Palestinian youngsters suddenly seemed to be unleashed in a most horrible way as teenagers were stabbed and parents were shot in front of their children.

The prophet Ezekiel calls it an “ancient hatred,” (Ezekiel 35:5) which is unleashed upon Israel in the last days. This hatred takes pleasure in the shedding of blood. It is a hatred which claims the ancient land of Israel was expropriated from the Jews and “has become our possession” (Ezekiel 35:10; 36:2). This hatred is driven by demonic forces which seek to annihilate the Jewish people, and it is directed against the purposes of God.

This uprising is not just a civil unrest. Its goal is to frustrate the plans and purposes of God for Israel and the entire human race. The Palestinians have it in their hearts to continue fighting until the Palestinian State encompasses the entire Land of Israel. It is a religious war directed against the God of Israel and what He is doing in this land.

As we witness this in Israel, we understand that these forces will not be overcome by physical force alone. Paul states: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And this is the main battle line. It is our prayers that will bring change. This is the reason we fast and intercede. Therefore, I want to encourage you to pray for Israel in these days more than ever before.

The book of proverbs declares that “... a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). In times like these the practical work we do for Israel is even more important than in times of peace. As Israel faces these strenuous times, it is our responsibility as Christians to care for the victims of this horrendous terror. Our staff here in Jerusalem is reaching out to those who are affected by this wave of terror.

Join us in our effort to comfort the people of Israel – below you will find practical information on how you can stand with Israel at this difficult time. 

What You Can Do

We invite you to join us in a very tangible effort to comfort the people of Israel! The ICEJ is partnering with a therapeutic center in the land to help those affected by the unrest. Your donation can help specifically fund treatment of Psycho-trauma (commonly known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD), as well as support a range of educational and curative programs that help rebuild communities throughout the land of Israel. Since many of the families who need therapeutic interventions cannot afford the cost of therapy, the center is now offering group sessions

The Jerusalem Municipality approached the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem with an opportunity to help purchase life-saving vests for their personnel. These are the servicemen and women who ensure that Jerusalem’s citizens and visitors can move safely throughout the city.

The vests will help protect those who watch out for our safety, such as security guards on trains, in parks, and around the important tourist sites in Jerusalem.

By partnering with the City of Jerusalem to protect its residents, we are showing the Israeli people that Christians are concerned about their safety. When Israel is in need, the ICEJ is among the first to help! 

25 Years of ICEJ Aliyah Work

Twenty five years ago, on May 28, 1990, in the early hours of the morning, the first Christian-sponsored flight of Soviet Jews arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. As the weary new immigrants descended from the El Al airplane to the sound of joyful Christians singing for their welcome, many broke into tears.

The flight was conceived and organized at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s (ICEJ) National Directors’ meeting in Finland earlier that year. The ICEJ was the first organization to begin the Aliyah work while others were still praying and thinking how to help. By the end of the 1990s, the ICEJ had sponsored 53 full airplanes and brought more than 15,000 Olim home.

In 1989 the Soviet Union did not have diplomatic relations with Israel and there were no direct flights between the two countries. Dr. Ulla Järvilehto, a medical doctor and member of the Finnish parliament, sought official permission from the governments of Finland and Israel to bring the Russian Jews to Israel through her country. Ulla became the founder of the ICEJ branch in Finland and over the years worked tirelessly to establish and maintain the Finnish transit program.

The Finnish Transit

By March 10, 1990, the Finnish Aliyah route was officially opened with the approval of both governments, and it has remained open since then, even when other routes closed down during the Gulf War in 1991. For 25 years buses have been leaving St. Petersburg early in the morning for Finland to bring Jewish families to Christian homes in Finland for three days and three nights. The Finnish believers take good care of them and blessed them in many ways. Israeli officials have remarked that most Olim arrive in Israel very tired and worn out, with the exception of the ones who come by way of Finland. They land in Tel Aviv rested, happy, and full of optimism.

To date, about 117,000 Jewish people have been helped somewhere on their journey home by the ICEJ. More than 45 million dollars have been spent on bringing God’s chosen people home. Today the Finnish route is very active once again, as a result of the declining Russian economy due to low oil prices and the fallout from the Ukrainian Civil War.

The work continues with Jews from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and the Baltic countries. Just as in the times of the Soviet outpouring, the ICEJ has responded to requests for help. In effect, the Finnish route has risen to a 10-year high and Russian Aliyah has more than doubled in recent years.

Humble Beginnings

My first visit to Russia was an amazing and eye-opening experience. I got off the airplane in Moscow just three months after the official end of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – nearly 25 years ago. There seemed to be a shortage of light bulbs back then. Moscow was a very dark place. Even the cars used only their parking lights at night. The stores did not have much food, and the breakfasts in our hotels were quite meager.

By October 1992, I was living in Russia full-time. At every opportunity, I spoke to Jewish people about Israel. Most of them were already in the process of getting ready to go, but there were still some who did not even want to think about it.

In the Northwest region of Russia the ICEJ team began to do advertisements in remote and unreached cities. Radio, TV, and newspaper advertising were still relatively cheap in Russia, and through this effort many people became involved. We advertised the route through Finland that was still open, and there were many Finnish Christians waiting to help the Russian Jews on their way home.

Aliyah Expansion

Today the majority of Jews come to Israel from the West. In the past 12 years, since 2003, more than 5,000 of them have been assisted by the ICEJ on some part their journey home. They move to Israel from North and South America, as well as Europe. In 2010, the ICEJ expanded the Aliyah from the West Program to include sponsored flights from Sweden and France. In both countries the rising tide of Muslim anti-Semitism was the reason for this assistance.

The Aliyah numbers have increased rapidly over the past few years due to wars and anti-Semitic aggression around the world. The ICEJ is leading the way in helping many more Jews come home to the land of their fathers. Please join the ICEJ in responding to this urgent need!

ICEJ-Netherlands Blesses New Immigrants in Israel

The ICEJ-Netherlands branch brought together almost 700 Dutch supporters of Israel this summer at their conference titled Reformation – corresponding with the theme of this year’s Feast of Tabernacles.

According to the leaders of the conference, God brought healing and renewal to the relationship between Israel and the Church in the Netherlands, as well as to the individuals gathered.

“In the [European] news you won’t hear too many positive things about Israel,” shared Jacob Keegstra, the National Director of ICEJ-Netherlands. “People came to this [event] because there is a hunger to know more about God’s plans for Israel and about the situation in the Middle East.”

Apart from powerful teachings, attendees enjoyed times of worship and even dancing. “During the meetings you could feel the presence of the Lord. At one point the worship leaders could not continue singing… the auditorium was filled with the Spirit of the Lord,” Keegstra said.

At the event, an offering was collected for an absorption center in Israel which helps new immigrants settle in their Jewish homeland. Together these faithful supporters of ICEJ collected 18.000 Euro. Thank you for being a part of this life-changing ministry!

You can support our work in the nations by clicking the link below:


 

 

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