Assembling the Outcasts: Ethiopian Jews Returning to Israel!

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The prophet Isaiah spoke of the remnant of dispersed outcasts who will be gathered from the four corners of the earth back to the land of Israel.  Over the years, droves of Russian and European Jews have made aliyah (return to the homeland), in fulfillment of Isaiah 11:12.

However, did you know that Jews from Ethiopia are returning as well?  In June, I wrote of a planeload that arrived in Israel, thanks in large part to the work and support of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.  Check out the jubilation here:

 

A few days ago I participated in a conference call with Nicole Yoder, Director of ICEJ Aid, who shared more about ICEJ’s part in bringing Ethiopian Jews home, and the challenges that must be overcome.

Consider this: Israel is a modern, high-tech society with a relatively high cost of living.  Ethiopia is one of the poorest third-world countries on earth, and most Ethiopians do not have the luxury of significant education.  They are often communal for the sake of survival.  Yet, when they enter Israel, they have no community (other than family members), they speak an entirely different language, they have no job skills commensurate with job opportunities in a new country, groceries and essential items are far beyond their ability to pay, and they find themselves in a culture almost diametrically opposed to what they know.

Thus, you get a sense of the challenges Ethiopian Jews face when they reach their homeland.  What is the answer to the dilemma?  In the US, we turn to government-funded welfare, but Israel has other ideas!

This is where caring organizations such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem come in.  On our conference call Wednesday, Nicole revealed the lengths that ICEJ goes to help assimilate new immigrants.  Not only do they finance airfare to bring many of them home, they also provide assistance in very practical ways once they arrive.  In the early days of an Ethiopian family’s time in Israel, ICEJ and other organizations provide essentials such as housing and household items, and food.

However, they also begin right away helping those families plug in to language-learning and cultural immersion programs (called “ulpan”) to help them assimilate.  Recognizing the human need to “connect,” they also provide opportunities for them to meet and develop relationships with other immigrants.  But one of the most impressive services they provide is a mentor who helps bridge the cultural gaps.  Mentors are trained Israeli social workers who visit at least weekly to help families learn to grocery shop, find a school for children (or adults in some cases), prepare for a job, and just carry out everyday functions of life.

We were told this is routinely be a 5-10 year process.  Wow…can you imagine!  But throughout it all, ICEJ is there to lend assistance and support.  Thankfully, not every group has hurdles as difficult as the Ethiopian Jews.  But consider the “less needy.”  Russian Jews are often well-educated and may have specialized skills such as physicians, lawyers, engineers, etc.  But just think…if you are a doctor, you and your patient must be able to understand the same language!  You must also be licensed to practice in your new land.  There are significant hurdles, even in the “less difficult” aliyah situations.

Often, when we hear about Jews returning to their homeland, we underestimate the commitment necessary for those making aliyah AND for the Israeli government and social services that must integrate them.  It is a monumental undertaking…yet God’s Word promises that He will draw His people back to their land!

As you consider year-end giving, why not partner financially with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)?  Aliyah is actually only a tiny part of what ICEJ Aid does, and ICEJ Aid is only one of many functions of ICEJ!  However, I hope this tiny bit of information has given you an appreciation for what they do.  I personally know some of the staff at ICEJ (both in Jerusalem and in the US) and can attest to the diligence and commitment they have to Israel and the Jewish people.  Your gift is well-invested in the Kingdom of God!

Contribute to ICEJ

(Where allowed, gifts are tax-deductible if directed through the branch in your country.)

Bring My sons from afar
And My daughters from the ends of the earth.
~Isaiah 43:6

May God richly bless you this Christmas season!

Word from Jerusalem – October 2017

Hi friends! If you’re not following the Feast of Tabernacles celebration going on in Jerusalem, I encourage you to catch some of the action!  The Feast events are sponsored by my good friends at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.  Events are live streamed here.

Meanwhile, ICEJ recently released the October issue of Word from Jerusalem and I believe it is one of the best issues I have read!  You will find these articles and more:

  • Jerusalem’s Prophetic Connections to the Ends of the Earth – this article chronicles ICEJ Executive Director’s journey to Fiji and details the end of Gentile rule.
  • The Battle for Jerusalem – the literal and spiritual battleground during the the Six Day War and reunification of Jerusalem.
  • Aliyah after Arrival – a look at the difficulties faced by some Ethiopians Jews after aliyah to Israel.
  • Outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Caesarea – the incredible story of the Holy Spirit breaking into the Gentile world for the first time.
  • Does Israel Receive the Most US Foreign Aid? – the answer is no, but read this article to understand!

You will be blessed by this issue!  Shabbat Shalom!

Reunited in Love of Israel

What a blessing to reunite with dozens of like-minded friends who love Israel! I’m in Washington DC, joining a couple hundred fellow graduates of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem Leadership Conference.  Those Leadership Conferences, held at the Holocaust Museum and Research Center in Jerusalem, seek to bring together Christian leaders from around the world to study specifically about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

At last night’s reception, I counted at least 15 of my 27 classmates from 2015, and we had a great time catching up with one another.  Most of us are actively involved one way or another in sharing the truth about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.  We were greeted by Dr Susanna Kokkonen (Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem) and welcomed by Shaya Ben Yahuda (Yad Vashem International Relations Director), both very dear friends of ours.  We were also welcomed by Cary Summers from Museum of the Bible, a supporting partner in the Conferences, as well as these Reunion/Refresher events.

During the evening, we were reminded that anti-Semitism is on the rise and, though painted with a different brush, is still the same picture the world ignored prior to the Holocaust.  After that, the world said, “Never again,” yet the BDS movement and Jewish hatred on college campuses (often sparked by radical Palestinian agendas) are rampant.  Friends, as Christians we cannot be silent.

As the evening progressed, we were treated to a special live production of “Portrait of Courage: A Call to Action,” performed by volunteers of Operation Exodus.  This was a depiction of what life was like in Jewish communities in Europe prior to the Holocaust, how covertly things changed, and the life-saving results of a few non-Jews who took action (sometimes at the risk of their own lives) to rescue Jews from the rampage of the Nazi killing machine.  It was quite moving and very well done, and certainly served as a call for us not to be silent in the current state of affairs.

Operation Exodus is dedicated to fulfilling a mission the prophet Isaiah described this way:

Thus says the Lord God,

“Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations
And set up My standard to the peoples;
And they will bring your sons in their bosom,
And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.
~Isaiah 49:22

Indeed, God is calling the nations to bring His sons and daughters home.  Yes, we have a responsibility in that!  Given the current rise of anti-Semitism, there is a growing call for American Jews to return home.  Most seem very happy and content in America (just as they were in Europe), but I wonder…will the same sudden destruction, brought about by American anti-Semitism, overtake them like a storm, as the German version in the 1930’s did?  God forbid!

Those ignorant of past mistakes are bound to repeat them.  Let’s not be part of that crowd.

At the end of the program we saw a short video about a group of young men who individually made aliyah (return to the homeland).  More tomorrow, but I leave you with this:

Signs of the Times

Greetings friends!  At times, signs are crystal clear, while at other times it seems impossible to navigate in this world!

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Today we’ll begin a mini-series I’m calling “Signs of the Times.”  Scripture often provides clear signs of the end times, and most are not difficult to understand if we are good students of the Word.  In fact, the Lord loves to reveal things to us!

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
~Deuteronomy 29:29

So, let’s examine some things God has revealed to us as His children.

Perhaps the most significant sign of all is the re-birth of Israel, and the re-gathering of the Jewish people to their own homeland.  Known by some as the “super sign,” Israel’s re-birth was essential to the fulfillment of several other end time prophecies, and is at the center of God’s plan for the last days.

Consider for a moment the soon-coming War of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-39.  Verse 14 of chapter 38 tells us that the invasion from the north will occur when Israel is “dwelling securely.”  Never did Israel dwell securely when they were banished to the four corners of the earth.  However, since returning to their land, Israel has become more and more secure.  It is now possible for that prophecy to occur.

Furthermore, the prophet Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation in Daniel 11-12.  The New Testament writer, Matthew, harkens back to it in Matthew 24:15.  These passages are clear reference to the Tribulation, when the antichrist will allow a third Jewish temple to be built, only to desecrate it, inhabit it, and demand that the world worship him.  How is building the Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount possible if the Jewish people are scattered throughout the earth, rather than gathered back in their land?

There are other examples throughout Scripture, but you see that end time prophecies such as the War of Gog and Magog and the Tribulation cannot happen without the Jewish people being re-gathered to their Jewish homeland, Israel!  When Israel declared statehood in 1948, the land once more was hers, and Jews have been returning to the land ever since.  (Read about recent plane-loads of French and Ethiopian Jews.)

Incredible signs of the times are falling into place in our lifetime.  Though even early Christ-followers (such as the disciples) were looking for signs of the end (Matthew 24:3), it was prophetically impossible for the end of the age to come between 70 AD and 1948!  Why?   Because Israel was not back in the land as required by Scripture!

We’re living in the season, fellow sojourners!  The Jews are back in their land, and we must be ready for what the Bible tells us will follow.  There are no other signs that must occur before Jesus returns.  Sure, it is possible that other prophetic events may happen prior to that, but none are required.  Jesus could return at any time, now that Israel is re-born and God’s people are being re-gathered!

This is only one clear sign in our day.  Hang out with us over the next few days as we examine other Biblical signs of the times.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at a second sign with current implications, the revived Roman Empire.  See you then!