Maria and I returned home safetly, baruch Hashem! The trip was a long one (16 hours flight time on three different flights) made more so by the fact that we couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. We were able to get some sleep on the planes, but you know how that kind of sleep is – not the most restful. But it really wasn’t that bad, and the trip was worth it.
My mom and granddaughter came with my friend to pick me up from the airport. The hardest part of this trip has been missing my granddaughter. She flew out of the car as soon as it stopped and we held each other so tight! For those of you who don’t know, my granddaughter lives with me on the weekends as my son is a single dad, making me the only mom she knows. We’ve got a great relationship, and I pray it will survive in tact through the teen years (she just turned 12).
I wanted to take a few minutes this morning to emphasize how important our presence is in the land to the Israelis. (By ‘our’ I mean people living outside the land – whether Jew or Gentile.) So many people I spoke with feel alone, that the world doesn’t care. And what they see the world saying is that all the trouble in Israel is their fault.
Now, I am not saying we take the place of God. But aren’t we, as followers of the Messiah, called to be the hands and feet of Hashem in this world? Isn’t it part of our job to love his people and support them? Isn’t that what Paul emphasized?
I live in south Florida. One of our main industries (like Israel) is tourism. When we are hit by a hurricane (or have a hurricane scare) it negatively effects our economy. And not just the restaurant and hotel industry, but every part of our economy. It is the same in Israel. Tourism is such a big part of their economy. I was so upset last year when I had to cancel the Journey to Messiah tour due to lack of interest. I can’t blame people for being afraid, but I knew how hurt the everyday people would be by the lack of tourist money and I didn’t want to be a part of hurting God’s people.
I am not the only one who saw the gratitude in people when they hear we are standing with them. I think I mentioned that while waiting in line at the Tower of David, I spoke with a woman from California. She shared that her experience was the same as mine when it came to assuring people that we are standing with them. They are very grateful, some so much that they are brought to tears when they hear it.
And the importance of this support was confirmed for me here in the States. On the way home from the airport, I stopped at Winn Dixie for milk and ran into one of the gentlemen from the kosher deli. I told him I just returned from Israel, and we spoke about the situation there. He said they need our prayers, and I agreed and shared my experience. He said his rabbi told them that we must do more than pray for the people, we must let them know we are with them, we must act. I agreed, but asked how? He suggested that if we know anyone there, to let them know.
This morning I woke with this thought rattling around in my head, “Emuna without mitzvot is dead.” Emuna is faith, mitzvot is commandments. As James points out, if we say we have faith, it would be followed by acts of obedience to God’s commandments. And what is his primary concern? To take care of the widow and orphan, to act in ways that demonstrate love and concern for his people, that address their needs. So I am sitting here pondering how we can do that. How can we, who might not know anyone in the land, let people who are living there know that we stand with them, no matter what our government does, no matter what the world does?
I remember when our soldiers were overseas and the ministry I was involved with collected items to send, which included notes of encouragement. I had a friend who was overseas, and his wife let me know how precious it was to receive the gifts, especially the notes. They might not have been much – toiletries, magazines, puzzle books – but it was the idea that someone back home cared enough to send it. And not only to send it, but to include a note of encouragement. I don’t think we understand how precious this can be to someone.
So here’s what we could do:
1- travel to the land – spend money there to boost the economy.
2- connect with a ministry in the land, perhaps one that helps those who are struggling financially
3- begin to get into the habit of writing notes of encouragement and connect with someone in the land.
I know giving is important, but sometimes just throwing money at a ministry is not enough. Not that it’s not important and needed, but the personal touch – speaking to the people, connecting with them personally – is vital. Do you have some other ideas? Do you know an organization that might be doing this? Please let me know, and let’s get the word out. Let’s be the body of Messiah, doing what we are called to do – love God and love each other in a clear and tangible way.