Wednesday, July 30, 2008


UPDATE: As many of you know, on March 20th of this year the family of Israeli Pastor David Ortiz was targeted for death because of their faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and was viciously attacked in their home in Ariel. A bomb disguised as a Purim package of candies and other treats was delivered to their home. Their youngest son, Ami, opened the package and was nearly killed by the blast. Miraculously, he survived, but his injuries were horrifying.

It was a story covered around the world. The Joshua Fund at the time immediately alerted our prayer network, as did many other ministries throughout Israel and around the world, and we have continued to lift up this dear family in prayer in the months that followed. In April, I asked Pastor Ortiz to speak at the Epicenter conference in Jerusalem to share what happened, how the Lord had rescued Ami, and the miracles that have been happening. I also asked him to share how many Israelis who do not believe in Yeshua were outraged by this brutal attack and were coming to Ami's hospital room to show their support. [To watch Pastor Ortiz's talk at the Epicenter conference, please click here and go to the video archive section.]

The police have ruled out Palestinian terrorism. They now believe this was an attacked perpetrated by religious Jews, possibly Ultra-Orthodox, who despise any Israeli who believes in Yeshua. The case is not solved. And if Ultra-Orthodox are involved, this certainly shouldn't been seen as an act supported by most religious Jews. By no means. But please pray that the police will aggressively pursue this case, solve it soon, and bring the guilty party or parties to justice.

Meanwhile, please pray for Ami, Pastor Ortiz, his wife, and their other five children. They are model Israeli citizens. David and his sons serve in the Israeli army. They pay their taxes. The kids have attended Israeli schools. They are involved in reconciliation efforts between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. They love Israel. They love Yeshua. And they deserve better. No one in Israel should face such persecution or violence.

A Joshua Fund team had the privilege of visiting the Ortiz family yesterday and it was a real blessing. I'm home, hard at work on my next book. The deadline is September 11th. But visiting our brothers and sisters in Ariel were John Moser, our executive director; Cheryl Moser, our office manager; Jeremy Grafman, our director of special projects; and a family from Virginia who are supporters of The Joshua Fund and doctors by profession.

What follows is an update on Ami's condition and their visit with our team, written by Leah Ortiz, Ami's mother:


Ami lost 25 pounds (12 kilos) in the weeks after he was injured. He was in an induced coma for 8 days, and then it took him 2-3 weeks until he was able to eat solid food. Praise the Lord, he has gained back all the weight he lost and his appetite has come back full force to what it was before the incident. You'd be amazed, and maybe slightly alarmed if you could see how he piles his plate with food – and it's still a mystery where it all goes to because at 6'3", and approximately 147 pounds, he's very slim. The dieticians want him to gain another 7 pounds or so, and I think he'll be happy to oblige.

Ami receives many visits from believers who are touring Israel this summer. They've come to bring him gifts, and to pray for him. The last group we had was from The Joshua Fund in the U.S., and among the small group, was a Doctor from Korea and his Iranian, ex-Muslim wife. She was able to tell Ami about her battle with breast cancer. She said that every time she looks in the mirror and sees her scarred breast, she says thank you to the Lord for having saved her life. She said that it is a sign between her and the Lord.

Praise the Lord for these powerful witnesses – if he already treasures them, when he is able to look back at this terrible incident, and recalls these stories of bravery and accomplishment, he will have a rich storehouse from which to meditate and remember.

Ami's older brother is still staying with him in the hospital, and I have returned home, only staying over when necessary. We were given the chance to move into a different hospital room with a lot more space. I guess we have a bit of seniority on the floor now, as several of the long term patients have been released to Out Patient status. Ami will also be released, God willing, in two to three weeks, and will continue to receive therapy as an out patient. Ami is looking forward to starting the new school year on September 1st, and we will have to take it day by day as he will also have therapy in the hospital a few days a week, and so he will studying in school, and also in the hospital's learning center. He still has many physical challenges before him as well, including the limited use of his hands, but we're learning to take one day at a time. We'd appreciate continued prayer for this important step back to normalcy. Ami is feeling a little relief from the pain, but it still plagues him and is holding him back a bit in his progress. We appreciate your continued prayer for every detail of his recovery.

We've been impressed by the Lord to pray about some opportunities to expand the ministry in Ariel and to become more visible as believers in our area. We believe that this is what the Lord will do as a result of the attack in March and we have some possibilities before us that we're praying about.. This is what was given to us from the very beginning of this ordeal -- Isaiah 54:2, 10 -17

"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, y
our foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace. In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; Whoever attacks you will surrender to you. "See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame, and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.

David (my husband, not the king!) pointed out that the weapon and tongue is on the same level of destructiveness, and both will be stopped, they won't accomplish what they have purposed to do. We certainly had a weapon forged against us, and it has not accomplished it's purpose. It was meant to destroy us, but it has multiplied us.

The tongue of those who have distributed fliers in all the cities of Israel with pictures of the local believers, including names and addresses, and stating that Messianic believers are not Jews, that we masquerade as such and are stealing the Jewish soul of our nation, will be refuted by the Lord.

Refute means to prove wrong by argument or evidence: show to be false or erroneous.

What beautiful promises. Let us be encouraged that we are in His hands, no matter what circumstances befall us.

The police are more active now in their investigation which is encouraging. We will keep you updated on any progress.

Thank you for praying, loving and encouraging us every step of the way.

In the Messiah,


Yesterday, I received this email from Taysir (Tass) Saada. Tass is a former PLO sniper who came to Christ miraculously in the early 1990s and is now in full-time ministry to Muslims in the epicenter, preaching the gospel and doing humanitarian relief work, particularly among his fellow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

He and I met at Shemen Sasson, a congregation in Jerusalem, in January when I preached on "What God Is Doing Among The Muslims." He also came with our Joshua Fund team to Ashkelon the next day and he and I presented checks from his ministry -- Hope For Ishmael -- and The Joshua Fund to the administrators of the Barzilai Medical Center to help t hem buy more desperately-needed medical equipment. During that meeting, Tass asked the hospital administrators to forgive him and the Palestinian people for all they'd done to harm the Jews. It was very moving, bringing all of us in the room to tears. I recently wrote the foreword to a book Tass has written for Tyndale called, Once An Arafat Man.

Please be praying for him and his ministry team as you read the email. We need to stand with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ as they serve as a light in such darkness. Thanks so much.

"It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. Our humanitarian organization in Gaza was ransacked...but robbed. By who you might ask. The answer is one that may surprise people...but to those who are educated in middle east politics, particularly in the Palestinian world, it may not come as a shock. The governing body in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, has taken it upon themselves to destroy all the good that is being accomplished through the cultural center in Gaza. I received a phone call early this morning informing us that our home in Gaza was robbed by Hamas. What they could not take, they destroyed. Bullets shot through windows, bullets shot through walls, furniture taken, pictures, books and the front door...yes the front door. If the home was not enough, they took everything from the cultural center. Computers, desks, chairs, sofas, furniture...all things being used to help the poorest citizens of Gaza. In addition to our home and cultural center, they took it upon themselves to destroy the Hope Kindergarten facility. Taking playground equipment, toys, and educational material...surely the soldiers of Hamas will find them useful while the children who received joy and education will now be without. This "governing" body is on a mission to eliminate hope in it's people...but be long as the Body of Christ continues to commit itself to the purpose of hope, love, peace and reconciliation to God...Hamas and the dictatorships like it will never succeed. They will only continue to fan the flame quietly burning in the hearts of their people. In a time such as this, with the political future of the United States being decided in November, it is becoming increasingly important for the Body of Christ to educate itself in the story of the Middle East. While intentions of former presidents visiting the leaders of Hamas may seem purely motivated, it only emboldens these governments to pursue acts such as these. My hope is that the book "Once an Arafat Man" will be a helpful tool for all who wish to understand the volatile situation in places like Gaza. Thank you for your continued prayers. --Tass"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As part of our "pray for peace, but prepare for war" approach to trends in the epicenter, The Joshua Fund board of directors continues to meet with experts who are advising us how best to get ready for a possible new conflict in the Middle East.

At our July board meetings, we had the privilege of spending the weekend with Lt.-General Jerry Boykin and Bailey Marks, Sr., two dear friends and men of tremendous experience and wisdom. General Boykin, you may recall, was a keynote speaker at our EPICENTER conference in Jerusalem in April. He is the former head of Delta Force and recently retired as the U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. He also used to be responsible for the training of all U.S. special forces at Fort Bragg, overseeing some 10,000 of America's best and brightest soldiers and Marines. Bailey Marks retired several years ago as Senior Vice President of Campus Crusade for Christ International. He served as a top aide to Bill Bright for several decades and was responsible for all CCC ministries outside the United States, overseeing some 22,000 American and foreign national staff members. Both were exceedingly gracious with their time and enormously helpful in helping us think through how to respond to a variety of eventualities.

Over the past week, we have also met in the D.C. area with a half-dozen other Israelis and evangelicals working in Israel who briefed us on what they are doing and discussed with us how we might be able work together. Among the questions we are asking:

* How can we stockpile emergency supplies in Israel to care for Israelis and Palestinians who may be caught in the crossfire of future hostilities? It is vitally important to us that we able to care for both communities, not just one or the other.

* How can we acquire additional warehouse facilities inside Israel that can be used to pre-position such supplies and complement the facilities other Jewish, Christian Arab and evangelical organizations already operate?

* How can we organize and train volunteeers to go into the region and assist churches, first responders, and local governments after the war ends?

* How can we mobilize more congregations to pray for the people of the epicenter, as well as for the staff and work of The Joshua Fund?

* How can we trust the Lord for the finances we need to move quickly, ahead of the coming conflict?

Please join us in praying for the Lord's wisdom in each of these areas.

Please also pray for:

* A Joshua Fund staff team that leaves Saturday for a two-week trip to Israel and the West Bank. They will be meeting with our key allies to pray with them and encourage them; fixing up and stocking bomb shelters as part of our pilot project; bringing more relief to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon; assessing new projects we may support; and looking for adequate warehouse space. Please pray Psalm 32:8 for them, that the Lord would lead them and guide them in the way that they should go, and counsel them with His eye upon them.

* The establishment of a Canadian branch of The Joshua Fund. Galatians 6:10 says, "While we have opportunity, let us do good to ALL people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." There has been growing interest from our evangelical friends up north for a way to learn, pray, give and go to the work of The Joshua Fund. There is particular interest among many to make tax deductible contributions to TJF. At the same time, I have been invited by several groups to go up to Canada and speak either this fall or next spring about the work we are doing. We are deeply grateful for this interest and want to respond to it. Please pray that the Lord would continue to give us clarity and wise counsel on all this so we can bless Canadians who seek to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.

* Our next Joshua Fund trip to Iraq. For security reasons, I cannot give more details at this time. But we are praying about returning later this summer or fall to encourage Iraqi pastors, pray with and encourage local believers, speak in Iraqi churches, bring in more humanitarian relief supplies, and meet with top Iraqi leaders. Please join us in praying Colossians 4:2-5, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

* The Lord to bless TJF with an additional $1 million in the next 30 to 45 days, above and beyond our regular budget. This money will be used to accelerate the stockpiling of emergency supplies in Israel and acquiring the warehouse space, trucks, etc needed to store and distribute these supplies. Far more than this is needed, of course, but if the Lord would provide these funds quickly, this would be a big step forward in making the necessary preparations. Please pray that the Lord would be gracious. And please pray about joining our team and investing in the work of The Joshua Fund.

As the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:6-14, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: 'He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.' Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

If you are a pastor, would you and your congregation consider a one-time special gift to TJF of $50,000 to help meet this need? For individuals and families, would you consider making a $25, $50 or $100 monthly gift? Thank you so much for your prayers and your generosity.

As always, The Joshua Fund will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date on the kinds of projects we are doing, brief you on how those projects are proceeding. We will also let you know about the kinds of projects we are developing for the future. In no way do we want to pressure anyone to give financially. We fully believe the Lord will provide for the needs of the people we seek to serve. But if you or others wish to help, we welcome your support, and all financial gifts are tax-deductible.

To contribute to the work of The Joshua Fund through a secure, on-line donation, please click here. Or, please make your check payable to "The Joshua Fund" and send to:

The Joshua Fund
18950 Base Camp Road
Monument, Colorado 80132-8009

Thanks so much and may the Lord richly bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus -- especially at critical moment in history of the epicenter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

To our dear friends in Israel, I have a very heavy heart today. The Joshua Fund team is grieving with you over the deaths of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. We had been hoping and praying along with you that we could all rejoice together, that there would be a sweet reunion. Yet we are faced with a bitter reality. Our hearts are broken for you as a nation. This tragic news weighs even heavier in light of the brewing conflict that fills the news across the globe. We are praying for you, and we are very aware that your own precious sons and daughters are called to stand against Israel's enemies. It is this prospect of future war hanging over Israel that motivates us these days. We are diligently preparing and pre-positioning relief supplies, so that we can bless all Israelis together, should the L-rd allow another attack. He longs for Israel to return to Him wholeheartedly. He is passionate to restore His people, for His ruach [Spirit] to bring them to life. We stand by ready to do everything we can to help you in your time of need, trusting that He will do what is necessary to return the children of Israel to their land and to His heart. Those of us who know Yeshua must rise to show His love in the face of this evil. We are called to reflect the character of the True and Living God, the One who values every life he has created. We still long for all in the region -- Jews and Gentiles -- to ask, "Why do the people who love Yeshua, love me?" Never has this been more critical than today, and the L-rd is able to make His love even more evident against the backdrop of hatred that surrounds you. Israel will always be in her prayers. So will her neighbors. And her enemies. We pray especially that the Spirit of the True God would fall upon Sheikh Nasrallah and the leaders of Hezbollah and bring them to saving, transforming faith in Jesus Christ, for it is only through the Prince of Peace that the problems of the Middle East will ever truly be solved. "Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." (Psalm 121:4) Amen.

[Top photo: Eldad Regev on the left, Ehud Goldwasser on the right]

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


As Israel faces the possibility of war with Iran in the next year -- possibly as early as this fall -- The Joshua Fund is stepping up efforts to stockpile food, water, medical equipment and other emergency supplies. Over the weekend, our leadership hosted the head of a leading evangelical Israeli relief organization to develop detailed contigency plans and we have a staff team heading to Israel at the end of the month to meet with other key allies. Over the course of the next few days, I will be holding conference calls with evangelical pastors throughout the U.S. to brief them on the latest developments and discuss ways they can help.

There are a few urgent prayer requests we would like to share with all of you:

1) First and foremost, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the entire region. Pray for the leaders of the region -- and our own national leaders -- to make wise choices in the days and weeks ahead. While diplomacy and sanctions haven't worked so far, they still could. So let's pray that the Lord would spare all the people of the region another war. They have, after all, suffered so much already.

2) Pray especially for peace on Israel's southern border. Every day, rockets and mortars from Gaza are striking fear into the hearts of some 500,000 Israeli residents. Pray, too, for the staff of Barzilai Medical Center, the only hospital treating Israelis in the southern tier. Pray for wisdom and comfort for the doctors, nurses, administrators and volunteers. Pray that they would have all the equipment, pharmaceuticals and other essentials they need to treat those affected by the on-going terror attacks.

3) Please pray for evangelical Christians and Israeli Jews to join forces to bless the people of Israel in real and practical ways. Pray that historic tensions would subside, and that Christians would truly show unconditional love and unwavering support to the Jewish State. Pray, too, that Israeli leaders at all levels of society would be open to and accepting of such support, and that The Joshua Fund could play a positive, helpful role in all of this.

4) Please pray for members of Israeli churches and congregations and their leaders to have wisdom and discernment to know how best to love their neighbors and their enemies. Please particularly pray for their courage and patience. While harassment of believers in Israel is nothing like the terrible persecution ongoing in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran or elsewhere, attacks against followers of Jesus in Israel have increased in recent months. As I have reported before, the 15-year old son of an Israeli pastor was nearly killed this spring when a bomb was sent to the pastor's home disguised as a Purim gift. Ami Ortiz is slowly, steadily, miraculously recovering. But he definitely needs your prayers for the many surgeries he is having to go through. Please also pray that the authorities in Israel would be truly diligent in tracking down and catching those responsible for this horrific crime. The police have now definitively ruled out Palestinian terrorism. This was done by Jews who hate Israeli believers in Yeshua, they believe. But there have been concerns that the police were not doing as much as possible to solve the case. Pressure from Christians around the world writing to Israeli embassies insisting on action has helped. Please keep praying and pressing for justice. Unfortunately, there have been other attacks as well. A deputy Mayor of an Israeli town recently organized Orthodox youths to round up New Testaments and other Christian literature and burn them in a huge bonfire. Christian workers in the country are being denied visas. Some Israeli officials are harassing immigrants who believe in Yeshua and trying to strip of their Israeli citizenship. The Lord is being gracious in all these areas, and a national discussion has ensued over whether Israeli believers in Jesus have a right to live peaceably in the Jewish State, especially since they are very loyal citizens. They fight in the army. They pay their taxes. They serve their communities. They care for the poor and needy. They want to help build a strong Israel for the future. They also want the right to worship the Lord and unashamedly express their belief that Yeshua is the Messiah and the hope not only of the Jewish people, but the whole world. Let's continue to pray for these brothers and sisters during these challenging times.

5.) Finally, please pray that we evangelicals around the world would have the courage to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and that we would not hesitate in any way to help them have enough food, water, clothing, medical equipment and other needed supplies to care for their own communities as well as their neighbors when the next war breaks out. As Paul wrote in Romans 15:25-27, "Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings." We do owe it to our brethren in Israel to help them in their nation's time of need.

This summer, therefore, TJF is seeking the Lord to provide an additional $1 million above and beyond our current financial commitments to accelerate our efforts to stockpile these goods, acquire the needed warehouse facilities to store them, and vehicles to move them around the country. Our board will meet this weekend to discuss several urgent new projects and make decisions on how to proceed based, in part, on our sense of whether we believe we can afford accelerating our work in Israel. We are bringing in several experts to advise us, including a former top U.S. military commander who is a dear brother in Christ and has decades of experience praying for peace yet preparing for war. I'll report more next week on what comes out of these discussions.

As always, The Joshua Fund will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date on the kinds of projects we are doing, brief you on how those projects are proceeding. We will also let you know about the kinds of projects we are developing for the future. In no way do we want to pressure anyone to give financially. We fully believe the Lord will provide for the needs of the people we seek to serve. But if you or others wish to help, we welcome your support, and all financial gifts are tax-deductible.

To contribute to the on-going work of The Joshua Fund, please click here -- or, make your check payable to: "The Joshua Fund" and send to:

The Joshua Fund
18950 Base Camp Road
Monument, Colorado 80132-8009

Thanks so much and may the Lord richly bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus -- especially at critical moment in Israel's history.