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Here I am to Serve

ICEJ Staff Member Serving Israelis During Pandemic

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23 Jun 2020
Here I am to Serve

As a member of the ICEJ staff from the far-away Pacific rim, I made a decision early on to endure the Corona pandemic by remaining in Israel. And what a wise decision it was, as Israel has been one of the most proactive and safest countries in responding to this serious health menace. Many foreign volunteers in Israel returned to their home countries out of fear of closed borders. Meanwhile, many social welfare organisations in Israel found themselves unable to fully function due to workers locked down at home.

But at the ICEJ, we sought out and found many wonderful opportunities to help meet urgent needs throughout the country, especially among the elderly. In one instance, we have partnered over recent months with Hineni, a charitable dining hall serving the poor and elderly in Jerusalem.

A large number of Israelis live below the poverty line and are forced to make everyday choices between paying for food, rent, medicine, or paying their bills. As a result, over 400,000 Israeli families suffer from hunger, including 700,000 children among them. In response, Hineni has created a professional catering kitchen, where every day hundreds of hot meals are cooked, packed and distributed throughout the community to assist those in need.

The heart of the Christian Embassy is to care for the Jewish people by being a ministry of comfort according to Isaiah 40:1 “Comfort. O comfort My people, says your God.” When asked by our AID department to help serve as a volunteer at Hineni, I found myself replying, “Here I am!” I love that response: Hineni is Hebrew for “Here I Am!” Many people in the Bible declared the same answer when asked by God to carry out a task. “Here I am to serve”, or “Here I am to help”, is a beautiful response to have, especially in these difficult times.

I believe a strong nation is reflected in how they treat their most vulnerable citizens. Over the past two months of serving food to those in need, I have found that we not only provided nutritious meals to the most vulnerable, but we also were able to do so in a dignified and respectful manner. So often, individuals who seek food from welfare organisations are stigmatised, ostracised and prejudged. However, we have been able to create a safe space in the heart of Jerusalem where peoples of all social classes, ethnicities and religious backgrounds can meet, share and fellowship over a freshly cooked meal.

It has been a wonderful privilege to be a part of the ICEJ team in Israel during this global lockdown and to partner with local Israeli NGOs to care for the needy. Serving up freshly cooked meals with an aroma of spices that fills the room, that is a beautiful atmosphere in which to serve the Lord and His people. Seeing the faces of those that are hungry and poor here in Israel, and then being able to provide for their needs through a hot meal and extra food to take home is a memory I will forever cherish.

You can join us in serving the people of Israel at this critical time!

Give your best gift today to comfort and bless the Jewish people!

 

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