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: