Wednesday, December 31, 2008

REPORT INSIDE THE GAZA WAR: IDF says worst is yet to come

Last night, I received a report by email from an evangelical friend in the Israeli town of Sderot, located on the southern border with Gaza. “Yesterday was a day full of explosions on both sides [of the border],” he wrote. “I have temporarily moved out of my apartments [and] am staying with a friend with a bomb shelter maybe 30 feet away….I realize more and more that I am not in control of my life and I am thankful that G-d is. Between tank fire and jets flying overhead it is a bit nerve-wracking, but again I know who holds my life in His hand and I know I need to be about my Father’s business….We have been told that the worst is yet to come and we should plan on having enough food on hand until the end of March….Just as He has always been to His children in the past, I know once again He will be faithful — that’s who He is, the Faithful One.”

On Saturday, I received an email from a Jewish friend who also lives in Sderot. “I just finished reading the Flash Traffic you’ve sent today,” he wrote. “Being held here in Sderot since this morning under marshal law, it was one of the good things that I enjoyed today and your report was excellent. I also join you in prayer tha the leaders here will have the wisdom and courage to destroy terrorists…in Hamastan-ruled-Gaza….We are under fire, but we know that He will protect us.”

The Joshua Fund is doing everything we can to stand with these and other friends and to let them know that they are not alone. We are mobilizing evangelical Christians all over the world to pray for peace on the Israel-Gaza border and to show unconditional love and unwavering support. We are asking you and others to continue praying for wisdom and courage for Israel’s leaders as they seek to decimate the Hamas terrorist infrastructure and reacquire the deterrence factor lost during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

* Please pray for the half million Israelis living within rocket and missile range of Gaza. They and their children have no idea what today and tomorrow hold. Pray for the Lord to comfort and calm their hearts.

* Please pray for the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom find themselves trapped in the crossfire of a war that Hamas started but that they as individuals and families don’t want.

* Please pray for the wounded on both sides, and the families who have lost loved ones.

* Please also lift up the believers in Jesus in Israel and Gaza who are seeking the Lord’s strength to help them love their neighbors and their enemies in real and practical ways in the name of Jesus. Pray that the believers can be lights in the darkness, bringing good news and hope to those who feel hopeless and alone.

* Finally, please pray that the Lord would be gracious to provide our Joshua Fund leadership team with wisdom to know how best to help those who are now victims of war and terrorism, and sufficient financial resources to meet those needs quickly and wisely.

Hamas terrorists have shown no signs of surrendering their vicious, evil war against the Jews of Israel. As of 4pm Israel time (9am eastern) on Monday, at least 50 rockets and missiles had been fired from Gaza at the Israeli towns of Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Israeli military forces, meanwhile, continue to pummel Hamas headquarters, rocket launching pads, and other military infrastructure. The deputy chief of staff of the IDF is warning Israeli that, “We are just at the beginning of the battle, this will not be hasty. The worst is not behind us – it is still ahead of us, and we should be prepared for this. Our resilience will be determine by the functioning of the authority and the way the civilians are protected.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

URGENT NEEDS IN THE EPICENTER: Joshua Fund sending relief supplies to bless Israelis, Palestinians and Iraqis

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me….Truly I say to you, to the extent you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” — the words of Jesus of Nazareth as found in Matthew 25:35,36,40
Dear friend of The Joshua Fund:

First and foremost, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am awed by how generous you have been with your prayers and your financial gifts this year. Though I am an author by profession, words cannot express how grateful I am to you for investing so much of yourself into the work that we are doing to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I have no doubt that the Lord will bless you and your family for doing so, because He promised this in Genesis 12:1-3.

By God’s grace – and with your help – The Joshua Fund this year has been able to:
* provide food for needy Israeli families in Jerusalem for Passover
* help Israeli organizations feed and care for needy Israeli Holocaust survivors
* fund the purchase of urgently-needed medical equipment for the only Israeli hospital and trauma center operating on the border of Gaza
* assist a shelter operating to care for the homeless in Israel
* help with a soup kitchen caring for the needy in Tel Aviv
* purchase (since the fall of 2007) over 170 tons of food in Israel to bless the poor and needy, as well as to stockpile supplies ahead of the next war
* help stock bomb shelters in northern Israel with food and other emergency relief supplies
* provide a shipping container of furniture to Russian immigrants in Israel
* provide blankets, heaters and others supplies to needy elderly residents in Sderot, Israel
* provide food for needy residents in Sderot, Israel at Hannukah season
* provide thousands of backpacks and school supplies to needy children in Israel
* purchase vehicles to assist relief organizations in Israel in transporting food, clothing, relief supplies and volunteers
* provide funds to care for an Israeli pastor's family whose son was nearly killed when a bomb was sent to their home disguised as a Purim gift
* help fund heart surgeries for three severely ill Iraqi children who were flown to Israel to be treated by Jewish Israeli doctors, all of which was organized by evangelical Christians
* provide thousands of Arabic Bibles, Christian literature and films about the love and compassion of Jesus for an evangelical ministry to Palestinians operating in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza
* fund evangelistic Christmas parties for nearly 600 Palestinian Muslim men, women and children run by Arab Christians
* provide emergency food assistance for Iraqi Christians fleeing Radical Islamic violence in the city of Mosul (ancient Ninevah)
* provide hundreds of backpacks, school supplies, and Arabic and Kurdish Bibles and Christian literature to needy Muslim children in Iraq, working through local Iraqi Christian ministries
* provide school furniture such as desks and chairs to needy elementary schools in Iraq through Iraqi Christians
* provide broadcasting equipment and funds to build studios for a Christian radio station in northern Iraq that will soon be able to broadcast Christian music, Bible teaching, Christian dramas, and gospel programming for up to 1.7 million people a day. (Please pray for this project in particular. The station is all ready to go on the air. I have been there to see it myself. The station's staff just need a final signature from local authorities, a process that is now underway. Please pray with us that the authorization will come quickly and the station can go on the air early in 2009.)
* provide thousands of vaccinations for at-risk children in Afghanistan
* provide funding for three Afghani Christian leaders to be tutored in English to improve their ministry skills
* send Joshua Fund staff, board members, and American evangelical Christian pastors to pray with, teach, and encourage pastors and ministry leaders in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf States
* take nearly 200 Christian leaders and volunteers to Israel in April 2008 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the prophetic rebirth of the Jewish State, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and participate in the first-ever "Epicenter Conference" in Jerusalem, attended by some 2,000 Christian leaders and lay people from around the world
* use radio, television and print interviews -- as well as email alerts and our website and weblog -- to help millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S., Canada and around the world understand the serious threats facing Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis in the epicenter, and how they can truly bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus in real and practical ways
While this is by no means a complete list of the projects The Joshua Fund has assisted with this year, I hope this will give you a sense of our heart to care for those in real need, and how we are investing the funds you have entrusted to us.
That said, as you can imagine, there is so much more to be done. Wars and rumors of wars continue to dominate the Middle East as 2008 draws to a close. Just consider just a few of these sobering headlines in recent days:

* 7 more rockets strike Negev, as IAF renews attacks on Gaza: "More than 40 rockets have been launched at Israel since Tuesday. Militants fired 24 Qassams at southern Israel and 11 the day before. One rocket fired Wednesday struck a parking lot adjacent to a supermarket in the southern town of Sderot. Three people sustained shrapnel wounds and nine others were treated for shock."
* Violence rocks Gaza as truce set to expire: "Violence flared around the Gaza Strip on Thursday on the eve of an expiry of a truce but Israel stressed it would not rush into a major military operation in the besieged Palestinian territory."

In light of such serious threats, I want you to know that we at The Joshua Fund are praying for peace while doing everything we possibly can to prepare for war. We are, for example, prayerfully seeking to acquire a Joshua Fund warehouse in Israel to stockpile more relief supplies. We are prayerfully seeking to purchase a truck sufficiently large enough to transport and distribute relief supplies throughout Israel. We are prayerfully seeking to hire staff in Israel to run our warehouse operations center. And this is just the beginning.

Would you be willing to help us at this critical hour?
1) The first need is more prayer partners. We are seeking to recruit at least 100,000 evangelical Christians from all over the world to stand with us in praying knowledgeably and consistently for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and for the people of the entire region. By God's grace, we already have more than 80,000 prayer partners signed up (double the number from a year ago). If you would like to receive regular "Flash Traffic" emails with urgent prayer updates, geopolitical updates, and Joshua Fund project updates, please click here.
2.) The second need is financial support. I realize economic times are tough for many of you. But that is true in Israel, as well. One-in-four Israeli live below the poverty line (about $800 a month for a family of four). One in three Israeli children live in poverty. And obviously Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas are doing everything they can to prepare for the annihilation of the Israeli people. That is why we believe so strongly that now is the time for evangelical Christians to show unconditional love and unwavering support to the Israeli people. If the Lord prompts you, we would be deeply grateful if you would be willing to make an end-of-the-year financial gift. A tax-deductible contribution of $50, $100, $1,000 or more would help enormously as we seek to be as ready as we can possibly be for the next war, as well as to bless Israelis and their neighbors who have severe needs today. If you would like, you can give securely on-line right now by clicking here. Or please make your check payable to "The Joshua Fund" and send to:
The Joshua Fund
18940 Base Camp Road
Monument, Colorado 80132-8009

On behalf of The Joshua Fund staff and board, thank you again so much for your love and your generous spirit. It is an honor to be doing ministry together with you.
Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,
Joel C. Rosenberg
Founder and President

[Pictured from top to bottom: Iranian missile tests in 2008; Joel with Iraqi school children at a Joshua Fund backpack distribution project in northern Iraq in February 2008; Israeli school children who received backpacks funded by The Joshua Fund in September 2008; Joel handing out backpacks to Iraqi school children at a second Joshua Fund relief project in northern Iraq in September 2008.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Here's a quick update on Ami Ortiz (pictured on the left, next to his mother, Leah, and his father, David Ortiz), whom many of you have been praying for over the past nine months. The Ortiz family thanks you so much for your prayers. The Lord is both hearing and answering such prayers, and they ask they we not let up.

Last month, several members of The Joshua Fund leadership team and I had the privilege of visiting the Ortiz family in Ariel, Israel. For those who don't yet know the story, Ami is a 15 year old Israeli boy who was nearly killed in March when he opened a Purim "gift package" that had been dropped off at his home that was actually a bomb. It appears the bomb was designed to assassinate Ami's father, who serves as the pastor of an evangelical Christian congregation whose heart is to bless both Jews and Palestinians in a "ministry of reconciliation" of which the Apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 5:18. But neither David or Leah were home at the time the package was delivered. When Ami opened it, the blast and shrapnel ripped apart his body, causing him to nearly bleed to death. David and Leah showed me a photo of Ami that was taken by a quick-thinking neighbor only minutes after the blast and after emergency services had arrived. It is a gruesome, bloody photo -- one of the most chilling I personally have ever witnessed. It's like a still frame from the most horrific moments in the film, The Passion of the Christ.

Miraculously, however, Ami did not die. As he lay on the floor of his home, burned and nearly bleeding to death, he cried out to Yeshua for help, and Yeshua responded. Today, I can report first hand that Ami's recovery is extraordinary. He is not only up and walking around, but he is even back practicing and playing with his high school basketball team. Indeed, he told me he was looking forward to playing a game the very next day after our meeting. He is not bitter. He loves the Lord so deeply and sincerely, and since Yeshua has taught him through the Bible to love his enemies and pray for those who persecute him, that is exactly what he seeks to do, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He has still has quite a bit of pain. After innumerable surgeries, he still has several more to go, and much more rehab. But he has come so far and he is one of the sweetest and most humble 15 year olds I have ever met.

That night at the evangelical congregation Pastor Ortiz shepherds, I shared my testimony and sought to encourage the Ortiz family and about 60 believers in attendance from God's Word with the notion that they have been chosen to suffer -- and thus honor -- the Lord at this critical moment in human history. The Lord is coming back. He who suffered for us is now purifying His Church and preparing us for His return. So let us not lose heart. Let us not grow weary in well doing. For in due time, the Scriptures tell us, we shall reap a great harvest.

I also promised the Ortizes that I would keep telling their story and asking believers around the world to keep praying for their physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. Let us also pray that the Israeli authorities would find the person or group responsible for perpetrating this terrible crime and bring him or them to justice. The police have ruled out Palestinian terrorism. The theory right now is that this attack may have been planned and executed by an extremist Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox religious group who hate Christians in general and hate Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah in particular. We do not yet know for certain, and personally I don't believe the Israeli authorities are doing enough to solve this crime. Gentle, loving but firm pressure needs to be applied to the Israeli government to let them know that evangelical Christians around the world are watching how this case is handled, and I would encourage you to write to the Israeli embassy or consulate in your area saying this and insisting that the guilty are brought to justice in the attempted murder of an Israeli pastor and his family. Please don't be harsh, unkind or unfair in what you say or write. The vast majority of Israelis and Jews generally are not hostile to the point of violence against believers in Jesus, and this should be acknowledged. The violent fanatics are a small, small minority. But just as anti-Semitic hate crimes should be solved and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so should crimes against followers of Yeshua in the land of His birth.

Thanks so much for your prayers and concern. I promise to continue updating you in the weeks and months ahead.

UPDATE: The best way to write to the Israeli government is as lovers of Israel. The point can be made that eights months after the incident, there is great concern over the fact that there are still no suspects or arrests after Ami Ortiz was almost killed and gravely injured in the bomb blast. Also possible to say that this is a shameful thing for Israel, and maybe a joyful event for Israel's enemies, that not everyone is equal before the law. Crime doesn't pay for some, but it does for others, and this could embolden them to keep on going. We should insist that there be no political or religious interference in this case, but that justice should take it's proper course. We feel that a clear condemnation of this act should be heard loud and clear from the leaders of Israel because so far not one government official has done so publicly, with the exception of Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman. Emails can be sent to Avi Dichter, the minister of internal security. His email is: