Thursday, May 24, 2007


For the last six days, my colleague, Edward Hunt -- Director of Operations for The Joshua Fund -- and I have been in Israel, meeting with local political leaders, emergency services officials, and pastors to deliver humanitarian relief to Israeli victims of war and terror and to get a better understanding of the latest round of violence. On Saturday, we were in Sderot, the southern Israeli town on the border with Gaza. More than 170 Kassam rockets -- fired by radical Islamic jihadits from Gaza City -- have fallen on Sderot this week. Six hit while we were there. This is a photo of one rocket strike that occurred about two minutes before we arrived.

Fortunately, this particular rocket hit no people or buildings, but landed in an empty field and immediately set it ablaze. The winds caused the fire to spread rapidly. It took firemen about 30-40 minutes to get it under control.

The smoke from the attack nearly blocked out the sun for a brief time.

Chris Mitchell (left) is the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He and his team took Edward Hunt (center) and myself down to Sderot to cover the story. To watch Chris's interview with me on the Gaza border, please click here.

While in Sderot, we talked with local residents and emergency services officials. Here, Chris Mitchell is interviewing an ambulance crew chief who told us that while casualties have been relatively minimal -- despite more than 4,500 Palestinian rocket attacks since 2001 -- the main effect of the attacks are shock and trauma. Half the town has evacuated creating a ghost town atmosphere. The other half live mostly indoors and in constant fear. Children have a hard time sleeping. Many wet their beds. "It's Russian roulette," he said. "You never know where the rockets are going to hit or whether you're going to live or die."

Kay Arthur, the internationally renowned evangelical Bible teacher, and I met for breakfast in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning. We discussed the just-completed conference Kay co-led for some 500 Jewish and evangelical women. We also discussed projects we could do together to mobilize more evangelical Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Kay recently interviewed me for 5 radio programs and 5 television programs on Epicenter, Ezekiel 38 & 39, and the current geopolitical threats to the Jewish State. Those programs are scheduled to air this summer.

On Sunday, Edward and I headed north to Kiryat Shmona to oversee a humanitarian relief project there. On Monday morning, we met with Shmuel Malul, the Deputy Mayor. Kiryat Shmona is a northern Israeli town on the border of Lebanon that was hit with more than 1,000 missiles and rockets during last year's war. Here, he meets with Jo Kaplan, director of The Joseph Project. The Joshua Fund is working closely with The Joseph Project to ship containers of humanitarian aid into Israel. This aid -- including food, clothing, medical supplies, furniture, toys, roofing materials, and the like -- is distributed through local followers of Yeshua (Jesus) to the poor and needy and to Israeli victims of war and terrorism.

In Kiryat Shmona, we were joined by members of Calvary Chapel of Rio Rancho, an evangelical congregation located in the suburbs of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here, Jeremy Grafman, a Calvary pastor (center), and I meet with a senior advisor to the Mayor (in red) after the group watched an eight-minute video depicting the trauma the town went through during the Second Lebanon War (July-August 2006). We also met with Vice Mayor Meir Levy, who is also a local rabbi. We explained that we had come to bless the people of Kiryat Shmona in the name of Yeshua and that we want to continue to send more aid, more volunteers, and more people to pray with and for their community. During a $350,000 relief project we helped organize last November, we had met with Mayor Chaim Barbibai and were warmly invited to return as often as we could. In January, Edward Hunt took several major Joshua Fund donors up to Kiryat Shmona to meet with the Mayor as part of our continuing efforts to bless the people of this beleagured city. This time the Mayor was out of the country but we greatly enjoyed spending time with his team and explaining that while the followers of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah hate them and want to destroy them, the followers of Yeshua love them and want to stand with them.

As part of this project, we had the wonderful privilege of visiting with and distributing humanitarian aid to Lebanese army generals and their children who now live in northern Israel. Some 110 high-ranking officers of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) and their families were extracted during last summer's war and relocated into Israel. For years, the SLA fought with Israel against the PLO, Hezbollah and other radical Islamic jihadists to create a free, independent and democratic Lebanon. Many SLA leaders have had family members killed by Hezbollah in recent years. Most have bounties on their heads for opposing the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. The Mayor of Kiryat Shmona asked The Joshua Fund if we would be willing to do a project to provide much-needed food supplies to these SLA families who left all they know and all they have behind in Lebanon. We were honored to say yes, in keeping with our mission statement: "To bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3." The passage in Genesis says that those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who cursed Israel will be cursed. These SLA generals and their families have risked their lives to bless Israel and we look forward to doing more to bless them in the future.

The Calvary Chapel of Rio Rancho team was made up of 43 evangelical Christians who are on a two-week tour of Israel. They joined The Joshua Fund in packing and distributing boxes of food to SLA families, as well as to some 100 needy Jewish families in Kiryat Shmona. The disabled, elderly and disadvantaged were the first to make it to the Kiryat Shmona Aid Center to collect their boxes. Those with low-paying jobs came after work. This distribution was made the day before the Shavuot holiday (Pentecost). Afterwards, Jo Kaplan received telephone calls from the Mayor’s office and other local leaders with profuse appreciation and accolades, and an eagerness to work together on future projects.

The Joseph Project has provided more than $70 million worth of humanitarian relief supplies to the poor and needy in Israel through local followers of Jesus, as well as through Israeli hospitals, welfare agencies, the Israeli Defense Forces and the Magen David Adom. TJP and The Joshua Fund worked together to organize the project in Kiryat Shmona, following up on a $350,000 aid distribution project that we and similar organizations worked on in the town in November 2006, not long after the war.

Volunteers from Calvary Chapel of Rio Rancho loading food boxes on The Joseph Project's truck.

The boxes contained various foodstuffs, including flour, sugar, rice, tuna, pasta, pickles, olive oil, red lentils, white beans, crackers, humus, cake and pineapple, accompanied by the 100 shekel gift (about U.S. $25). CC Rio Rancho paid for the entire project, via The Joshua Fund.

It took about two hours to pack all the boxes in donated warehouse space in the center of town and it was a great time of getting to know the local Israeli believers, the folks from Rio Rancho, and to pray for the people of Kiryat Shmona. We'd love to help other evangelical churches who are planning tours of Israel and want to "tithe" one day of their tour to do a humanitarian aid project to bless Israelis in the name of Yeshua. If you're interested in such a project, please contact Edward Hunt, our Director of Operations: Or visit you can visit

Robert Hall is the senior pastor at CC Rio Rancho and has a real heart for blessing Israelis and Palestinians who have been caught in the crossfire of war and terrorism for so many years. Last October, Robert invited Joel out to New Mexico to speak to his congregation on the topic, "Are We Living In The Last Days?" and the ministry of The Joshua Fund. He immediately connected with the vision of "learn, pray, give and go" and has mobilized his congregation to do all four. He's teaching the 1,000 attendees of CC Rio Rancho about God's plan and purpose for the people of the Middle East. He's encouraging them to pray knowledgeably and consistently for the people of the epicenter and to realize the urgency of the fact that another major geopolitical war may be coming to the region very soon. His congregation has already raised enough money to send more than $200,000 worth of humanitarian aid to Israelis and Palestinians through The Joshua Fund. He's now leading 43 church members of on a two-week "prayer & vision trip" through Israel and planning to send another team from his congregation over to Israel to do more relief work with The Joshua Fund in November. In this picture, he's caring for one of the needy children in Kiryat Shmona. It's been exciting to see the sincere love and enormous passion that he and his wife, Juanita, have for this work and their sense of urgency that more must be done now, while we still have time. Together, we hope this pilot project will serve as a model for churches to follow and we'd ask you to pray that the idea spreads like wildfire. We were blessed that Reed Olson and Steve Adams from Focus on the Family were with us to see this project and its potential. Reed is the Director of International Ministries for Focus. Steve is the associate editor of Citizen magazine who is writing a profile on The Joshua Fund on how evangelical Christians can make a positive difference in the Middle East. We'll let you know as soon as the article is published.

In addition to preaching at a congregation in Jerusalem and meeting with numerous Israeli pastors during this past week, Edward and I had the privilege of participating in the humanitarian aid project with the CC Rio Rancho group as well as briefing them on the latest developments in Lebanon and Syria and how thse two countries fit into Bible prophecy. In this photo, I'm at a retreat center at the base of the Golan Heights with four dear, lifelong friends: Jeremy and Angie Grafman (right), and John and Cheryl Moser (center). Jeremy and Angie (one of the Mosers' daughters) serve on staff with CC Rio Rancho. Jeremy and I are both Jewish believers with a growing desire to bless Jews and Arabs with the love of Yeshua. Angie and I grew up together. John and Cheryl are members of CC Rio Rancho and were Joel and Angie's youth group leaders at Perinton Community Church in Fairport, New York. It was a particularly special time being able to serve together with them in the land of Israel.
* Please pray for peace in Sderot and Kiryat Shmona and for wisdom for the leaders in these communities.
* Please pray for the local followers of Yeshua in these towns. At this point, we know of only 10 believers in Sderot who meet in a house church fellowship, and about 100 believers in Kiryat Shmona, 15 of whom have come to faith just since the end of the war. Pray for their courage, for their spiritual growth, and for their wisdom to know how to be a blessing to their neighbors.
* Please pray that the Lord Himself would inspire the leaders of hundreds of evangelical Christian tour groups from all over the world to do similar relief projects for the poor and needy in Israel.
* Finally, please pray that The Joshua Fund could raise the $300,000 we need to help The Joseph Project rent, outfit, staff and run a new 15,000 square foot warehouse facility. Organizations all over the world want to send more shipping containers filled with aid for these needy Israeli and Arab communities, but Jo Kaplan's current facility is nearly maxed out. Another warehouse and distribution truck would help enormously, and we'd really like to get such a facility up and running soon, before another war begins. To send a tax-deductible donation -- or to donate securely on-line -- please click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Please pray for the 20,000 residents of the southern Israeli border town of Sderot that borders the Gaza Strip.....13 rockets have been fired so far today....20 rockets were fired at the town on Wednesday by radical Islamic jihadists.....more than 30 rockets have rained down since Sunday, wounding six civilians, including a 44-year old mother and her young son....since 2001, more than 4,500 Kassam rockets have been fired at Sderot.
The AP now reports: "Schools shut down and residents huddled in bomb shelters as another barrage of rockets came crashing down on this terrified border town, threatening to provoke an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza 20 months after Israeli troops withdrew from the coastal strip. 'The anxiety level with the kids is unimaginable,' said Tami Sagie, the head of psychological services in Sderot. 'We have a whole generation that was born into the Qassams, children whose first word is boom.' Sagie spoke of teenagers wetting their beds in the middle of the night when rockets hit. Others regularly sleep with their parents, or find it difficult to concentrate, she said. It's not just the children. Noam Amram, 62, said he has been seeing a therapist since a rocket landed next to him four months ago. 'I still haven't gotten over it. Every noise I hear, I shudder. I can't sleep. I live in fear,' he said."
At the same time, a virtual civil war is underway in Gaza and Hamas and Fatah forces battle violently for control....Today the Israeli Air Force attacked Hamas headquarters in Gaza City....this could once again erupt as a major battle between Israel and the Palestinians...."A poll conducted last week by the Maagar Mohot institute found that 87 percent of Sderot residents favor a harsh retaliation, and that 47 percent were considering leaving," reported AP.
Please pray:
1) For peace and tranquility in the entire region
2) For courage for the families of Sderot
3) For wisdom for Prime Minister Olmert and his military and political advisors to know the best course of action
4) For Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to take decisive and immediate action to stop these terrorist attacks
5) For wisdom for Israeli and Palestinian followers of Jesus as they seek to love their neighbors and their enemies in this difficult hour
6) For Joshua Fund leaders as we explore ways to provide humanitarian relief to those who are suffering on both sides.
Someone has posted an interesting question on my other blog: "With the constant fighting and turmoil in the Middle East, I am confused as to how I am to pray. How am I to deal with the frustration of this situation that seems to never change?"
It's a good question, especially right now. There are a number of ways to answer it, but here's one: Psalm 122:6 commands us to "pray for the people of Jerusalem." Yet in many other Scriptures, the Lord tells His people to go to war.
I believe as followers of Jesus Christ we must pray for peace and prepare for war.
Thus, I pray that the jihadists in Gaza are caught, arrested and imprisoned, or hunted down by the Palestinian or Israeli authorities and brought to justice. I also pray that these jihadists meet Jesus. I pray they find peace with God through faith in Christ's death and resurrection. And I pray they are spiritually transformed as so many other Muslims in the Middle East have been in recent years (see Chapter 14 of Epicenter, "Muslims Turn To Christ In Record Numbers").
At the same time, I realize that the Lord may answer my prayers for earthly peace with a "no." In His own sovereignty, He may allow violence to continue and even allow war to ensue. We know believers will be praying for peace in the lead up to the "War of Gog and Magog," but the answer will be no (until God's supernatural intervention is complete). We also know that believers will be praying for peace right up to the Battle of Armageddon, but again the answer will be "no" until after the Second Coming of Jesus.
Thus, as Christ's followers, while we pray for peace, we must also prepare for war. That's not a lack of faith. That's being a good stewardship of our time and resources as we recognize that the Lord is in control and ready ourselves to follow wherever He leads, in good times and bad.
For The Joshua Fund, "praying for peace but preparing for war" means doing everything we possibly can to get shipments of humanitarian relief supplies into the region before the next geopolitical or prophetic war. It also means doing everything we can to build alliances and "pipelines" to bring even more relief supplies into the region during and after the next war.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Dr. James Dobson interviewed Joel Rosenberg as part of a week-long radio broadcast series on the threat of radical Islam to the U.S. and Israel and how followers of Jesus Christ can and should respond....they specifically discussed the importance of building a global movement of believers who care for and are involved in God's work in the epicenter and The Joshua Fund's four-part strategy, Learn, Pray, Give and Go....please join us in praying that of the millions that listen to the Focus on the Family series, many will be moved to:
1) Learn more about God's plan and purpose for the Middle East and what He is already doing there so powerfully;
2) Pray wisely and consistently for the believers in the epicenter and for those who don't yet know the Lord Jesus;
3) Give to Christian ministries who are working humbly and effectively to bless the people of the epicenter in the name of Jesus; and
4) Go visit the nations of the epicenter and even to serve the Church there short-term or full-time, as the Lord leads them.
* To listen to Part I of the interview, please click here.
* To listen to Part II, please click here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


On February 23, 2007, Israel's Channel 2 evening news broadcast -- the highest rated news program in the country -- ran an unprecedented story on the dramatic increase in the number of Israeli Jews who believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah....the story, nearly ten minutes in length, said that while there were only a handful of Jewish believers when the country was founded, there are now some 15,000....they circumcise their boys, send their children to Israeli schools, run or work in Israeli businesses, pay their taxes and serve in the army, some even in elite fighting units....yet these Jews face intense resistance and at times outright persecution from some Orthodox religious groups and watch the Channel 2 story on Israeli followers of Yeshua (subtitles in English), please click here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Please pray for the believers in Jordan. A dear pastor there that Lynn and I know well was interrogated by the secret police this week for five hours. They are trying to intimidate him and force him to stop sharing his faith with Muslims. He’s okay, but he’s asking for courage and wisdom, and not only for himself but for his fellow pastors throughout the country. An Egyptian pastor who has been ministering in Jordan for 35 years was just forced out of the country. Says our friend: “Satan is trying to hit Jordan church strongly. We refuse this much and we need your prayers.”
Here are some specific requests:
  • Pray that the Lord would bless King Abdullah II and his government and move them to show favor on the evangelical Christian community throughout Jordan.
  • Pray that the Lord would cause the leadership of Jordan to stop intimidating church leaders.
  • Pray that the historic, traditional churches would stop their enemity against the newer, evangelical churches and that there would be a revival among nominal Christians and their leaders throughout Jordan.
  • Pray that true followers of Jesus -- particularly those from a Muslim background -- would stand strong and courageous and be a great witness for the Lord Jesus throughout the land of Jordan.
  • Pray for the Egyptian pastor to be allowed to return home and that in the meantime the Lord would give peace and comfort to his family.