Sunday, January 18, 2009

BRINGING HOPE TO SDEROT: Joshua Fund helps provide food for the needy in the heart of the missile zone in Israel, close to the Gaza border

Late last year -- before the war in Gaza began -- several Sderot residents approached The Joshua Fund and asked if we would be willing to help them open up a storefront facility where they could stock food and other commodities to be distributed to those Israelis living under the poverty level in their community. After assessing the need and their plan, we readily agreed.

On December 27th, of course, the desire to care for needy Israelis intensified dramatically as Hamas began launching 70 to 100 rockets at day at Sderot and other southern tier towns and cities.

By early January, the storefront facility had been rented, shelves had been built, some cleaning had been done, and basic improvements had been made.
On Monday, January 12th, my colleagues -- John Moser, our executive director; and Jeremy Grafman, our director of special projects -- and I had the opportunity to visit Sderot, see the storefront first hand, and meet the team and the volunteers who will run the place. It was clear they were ready to go, so we quickly authorized the purchase of food -- from monies generously donated to The Joshua Fund by faithful friends of the ministry from all over the world -- so that the "Hope For Sderot" team could get to work blessing their neighbors right way. Two days later, the truck of food and other supplies arrived and we had the privilege of helping stock those previously empty shelves. We also had the privilege of praying with this dear group of allies and volunteers that the Lord would truly use their kindness and generosity to touch hearts and lives with His love and let the people of Sderot know they are not forgotten.

What an honor to come alongside Israeli sabras and Jews from abroad and help them in their time of need. We don't deserve any credit for this. We don't want any. We just want to bless the Israelis of Sderot and the southern tier in the name of Jesus with unconditional love and unwavering support. We want them to know that millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S., Canada and around the world are praying for them. We are praying that the Lord grants them peace, that the Lord grants them true security and protection, that the Lord grants them comfort and hope no matter happens in the days and weeks ahead.
We are also praying for those innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and seeking ways to bless them through Arab evangelical churches. And we are praying for Israel's enemies, too -- for the leaders and fighters of Hamas to turn from their evil ways and find the living God -- because Jesus commanded His disciples to love their neighbors and their enemies, and we want to be faithful to what Jesus taught us.

As the Lord spoke through His servant Moses:
"If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land with the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks....You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore, I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)

And as we read in the Gospel According to Mark: "In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said, 'I feel compassion for the people because they...have nothing to eat.'....And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. And they ate and were satisfied....About four thousand were there." (Mark 8:1-9)

** If you would like to help us feed the hungry, care for the needy, and comfort victims of war and terrorism, please consider making a tax deductible contribution to The Joshua Fund through our secure on-line system. Click here to give, or to learn more about what we do, and may the Lord greatly bless you as you seek to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. **

Friday, January 09, 2009


(Sderot, Israel) — Israeli warplanes continued to pound Hamas targets in Gaza today as Hamas fired 30 rockets at Israel. Three of those rockets hit the town of Sderot just before I arrived to participate in a relief project that The Joshua Fund helped finance. By the grace of God, no Israelis were killed as a result of any of the rocket attacks, though several were wounded. Separately, three Israeli soldiers died during fighting deep inside Gaza today.

It was an incredible honor to work with several dozen Jews and evangelical Christians to bless the poor and needy and victims of war and terror just a kilometer or two from the Gaza border at any given moment. Together, we met at about 10:30am and assembled bags of hot meals (chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables, along with several loaves of bread); bags of dry food goods (such as milk, cooking oil, noodles, tunafish, and chocolate wafer cookies); and bags of toiletries (such hand soap, shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, cleaning wipes, and facial tissues) for needy Israeli families, mostly elderly folks. We also assembled bags of toys, games, coloring books and trading cards for the children who remain in Sderot because their families don’t have enough money to evacuate them.

Then, after a lengthy security briefing telling us what to do if we are caught in the middle of a missile strike, we fanned out across the town to deliver these “bags of blessing” to lists of pre-selected families, all of whom live under the poverty level. Some were native Hebrew-speaking Israelis. Some were Ethiopian immigrants. Most were Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants from Russia and the former Soviet republics. To say that those we met and delivered the food and supplies to were deeply grateful doesn’t even begin to capture the story. Some had tears in their eyes. Most were simply stunned that we had come as no one told them that they were going to be recipients today of such gifts. All of the elderly folks and families I had the privilege of visiting today eagerly invited my Jewish and evangelical colleagues into their flats. They wanted to sit and talk. They wanted to know why in the world we had come from all over Israel — and all over the world — to bless them. They also wanted to talk about what it’s like to live under a near-constant barrage of rockets, missiles and mortars. And we were eager to listen.

All told, about 150 Israeli families in Sderot were blessed today. The project was organized by the Israel Leadership Institute which is run by Eeki Elner, a leadership trainer and social activist who lives in Sderot, and the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, which is run by Calev Myers, a partner in one of the leading law firms in Israel. Several organizations helped finance the project and provide volunteers. Last week, The Joshua Fund paid for all the hot meals that were distributed. This week, we paid for all of the bags of dry food goods that were distributed, all of which were purchased from a local supermarket to help bless the beleagured, war-torn economy.

Pictures (from top to bottom):
  1. Joshua Fund founder Joel Rosenberg delivering aid and spending time with a brave and very sweet Israeli family in Sderot, just one kilometer from the Gaza border
  2. Israeli volunteers giving toys and games to Jewish children not from from the Gaza border
  3. Joel and three Israeli volunteers filling car with relief supplies to be distributed in Sderot
  4. Israeli volunteers being briefed in the events hall of a restaurant in Sderot that served as a staging area for packing the bags to be delivered to needy couples and families
  5. Bags with dry food goods
  6. Bags with toiletries
  7. Some of the dry foods included in the typical bag
  8. Some of the toiletries included in the typical bag
  9. Joel working with other volunteers to pack the bags ahead of distribution
  10. Smoke rising from Gaza after two Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


(Southern Israel, January 7, 2009) -- "When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." (Deuteronomy 20:1-4)

Please forgive me for not writing for the past few days. I flew to Israel on Sunday and arrived Monday morning, joining several colleagues in southern Israel to assess the situation and help direct The Joshua Fund's relief efforts. It's been an intense 48 hours, and it's currently 5:54am Wednesday morning Israel time. Allow me, therefore, to make a few brief observations, and I will write more later.

* First and foremost, the situation is very intense here. Hamas has fired more than 500 rockets at innocent Israeli civilians over the past ten days or so. They are coming in at 40 to 50 rockets a day. More than 500,000 Israelis live within range of these instruments of terror, and many are traumatized by the fear of injury and death, not only for them but for their children as well.

* Six Israeli soldiers have died in the fighting so far. Israelis throughout the country are mourning their loss, name by name, family by family. That said, Israelis are also overwhelmingly relieved that their government is finally taking strong action against Hamas after some 2 1/2 years of doing virtually nothing.

* Some 1.5 million Palestinians who live on the Gaza Strip are being held hostage by Hamas. Hundreds are dead and thousands have been injured because of Hamas' evil reign of terror that finally provoked an Israeli response. The latest example came Tuesday when Hamas fighters fired mortars at Israeli forces from a U.N. school. This forced Israel to bomb the school to suppress the attacks. In the end, some 42 Palestinians - including the terrorists - died, and more than 50 were injured.

* Where is the world outrage against Hamas? The Palestinian people desperately want and need to be liberated from Hamas, and would privately welcome Israeli success against the terror leaders.

I can report that The Joshua Fund continues working with Jewish and Christian allies on the ground here to care for Israelis caught in the crossfire.

Two days ago, we were able to help evacuate a bus filled with more than 40 Israelis from the southern border town of Sderot. We have moved them out of the war zone, up to a more secure location in the North of Israel, and are paying for their lodging and meals while they are there. We are working around the clock on the logistics to move more Israeli families out of harm's way. We are also helping several organizations prepare to deliver more food and relief supplies to elderly Israeli shut-ins in Sderot. I will have more to report on these efforts soon.

We are also actively seeking ways to provide humanitarian aid first to followers of Jesus Christ in Gaza, and then through the Christians to Muslim Palestinians living in fear and terror of the Hamas-triggered war. Thus far, however, it is not yet clear how to help effectively. We are in direct contact with key Arab Christian leaders. But there are reports that Hamas fighters are stealing aid that non-Christian relief agencies have sent in. And the violence is so intense right now it is not safe for aid workers to take in new relief supplies.


* First and foremost: Please keep praying for real and lasting safety and security for Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the border, and peace for Jerusalem and all of the epicenter, that the war will not spread to the North and East. (Psalm 122:6)

* Also, please pray for true justice to be done. Let's ask the Lord to save the souls of all the Hamas leaders and fighters, just as He has saved the soul of the son of the Hamas leader. But at the same time, please be praying for the success of the Israeli Defense Forces to have success in crushing the Hamas terror infrastructure and liberating the Palestinian people. This is not the openly declared goal of the IDF, but this is my prayer. Remember: Hamas fighters have slaughtered Christians in Gaza. They blew up the Palestinian Bible Society book store in Gaza. They throw their enemies off of high rise apartment buildings. They steal money and relief supplies that are supposed to help suffering widows and orphans. They are cruel, evil people. Pray that the Israeli forces truly turn to the Lord God of Israel and seek His power, His strength, and His victory. "Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight with me....Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me." (Psalm 34:1,4)

* Please pray that not a single innocent Israeli or Palestinian civilian is killed from this point forward. "The patient toward you," wrote the Apostle Peter, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

* Please pray for those who have been wounded on both sides, and for the family and friends of those who have been killed on both sides of the conflict. Pray that the Lord would bring them supernatural comfort and healing. Pray that they will turn to the God who said through the Prophet Isaiah, "the Lord has annointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bink up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion...the oil of gladness instead of mourning." (Isaiah 61-3)

* Please pray for the Israeli and Palestinian pastors and their congregations to have wisdom to know best how to love their neighbors and love their enemies, as Jesus commands -- and pray that they can help those who are suffering on both sides discover God's true and transformative love and plan for their lives.

* Please pray for wisdom for The Joshua Fund leadership as we seek to care for Israeli families suffering in the war zone. Pray, too, that we can find ways to care for Palestinians, as our heart goes out to both sides.

* Finally, please pray that we can recruit 100,000 partners ready, willing and able to pray with us for the people of the epicenter. Already, more than 80,000 people from around the world have signed up for Flash Traffic emails with geopolitical updates and prayer requests. I would really like to see us reach our goal of 100,000 such prayer partners by the end of January.

* Thanks so much for your faithful prayers and generous financial support. I am hearing from many Israelis here who are so grateful for the unconditional love and unwavering support of true followers of Jesus from the U.S., Canada and all over the world via The Joshua Fund.

Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." The Lord commanded us to love our neighbors. He commanded us to bless the people of Israel in real and practical ways, including to feed those who have no food. We are seeking to obey in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As always, we will do our best to keep you up-to-date on the kinds of projects we are doing, and 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.

If you would like to make a year-end contribution to the on-going work of The Joshua Fund 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.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


The Joshua Fund is moving quickly to bless Israeli caught in the crossfire of this escalating war between Israel and Hamas.

On Friday, TJF helped fund a project to care for 150 elderly Israeli Jews trapped in the city of Sderot, right on the border with Gaza, which is receiving a seemingly never-ending barrage of rocket attacks. TJF paid for hot meals that were delivered personally by dozens of volunteers to these elderly shut-ins. The project was organized and run by Eeki Elner and Calev Myers, co-founders of AFFI, the Alliance for the Future of Israel. Several other allies provided logistical assistance as well.

Here is an email we just received from Calev on how the project went:

"We have just returned from the project in Sderot. It went very well. Eeki Elner...was able to bring between 50-60 volunteers from Tel-Aviv and the North. I brought about 11 volunteers from the Jerusalem Institute of Justice in Jerusalem. Eeki received from the Mayor of Sderot the names and address of about 150 elderly people in Sderot who can not leave their homes. Many of them suffer from health problems and all of them suffer from poverty. Through the generous donation of the Joshua Fund we were able to give a hot meal to each individual, together with a brand-new down blanket (provided by JIJ).

"All of the volunteers split up into about 14 teams with a list of names and homes, and we were able to distribute all of the gifts within about 2.5 hours. The volunteers were instructed to enter peoples home and to take their time asking if everything is okay and trying to encourage the recipients as much as possible -- to give them the feeling that they are not alone. This was a little challenging at times. Most of the recipients were Russian or Ethiopian new immigrants. Out of six homes that my team covered, we only found one Hebrew speaker. However we heard a lot of hearty 'thank you's' in Russian and the tears and smiles on the faces of the recipients clearly expressed their appreciation regardless of language limitations.

"As we were going from home to home it was hard to ignore the Israeli fighter jets flying over our heads and the artillery fire in the background. It is inconceivable to me what must be going through the mind of an elderly new immigrant who does not speak Hebrew, lives in abject poverty and listens all day to the sound of war about a mile from his/her house (not to mention the Kassam rockets which frequently fall in the vicinity).

"Eeki was also able to procure a donation of tens of boxes of brand new educative toys and games, from a toys and games factory in Israel. After we finished the distribution to the elderly, each team of volunteers filled up their cars with educative games and toys and we went door to door asking if the homes had children, and distributing the games and toys to the ones that do. This really meant a lot to the recipients because the children of Sderot do not have school due to the war, and the kids need to need to interesting games, etc, to occupy them (as they try to ignore the bombings and gunfire which they hear throughout the day).

"We want to thank you so much for helping us bring a ray of light and encouragement into the darkness and fear of the residents of Sderot today."

Please pray for all of these elderly shut-ins, as well as all of the people of Sderot, that the Lord would protect them as rockets keep raining down on their homes and communities.

Meanwhile, I just got off the phone with John Moser, our executive director, just a few hours ago. I gave him authorization to fund another project to care for Israelis in the war zone. The Joshua Fund, working closely with our Jewish allies on the ground, will begin helping Israeli families who live near the border of Gaza to move out of their homes and to a safer city for the next week or so. We are paying for the buses, the accommodations and the food for these families. Lord willing, these families will start moving out of harm's way within the next 24 hours. I will update you as soon as I possibly can.

Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." The Lord commanded us to love our neighbors. He commanded us to bless the people of Israel in real and practical ways, including to feed those who have no food. We are seeking to obey in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I have also spent this afternoon praying with an Arab ministry leader, discussing how we can especially help Palestinian followers of Jesus trapped in Gaza. It's not yet clear how to help given how tightly Hamas controls the situation and how violent the situation is at the moment. For now, we will keep assisting Jewish Israelis since we have clear access to them. If an opportunity presents itself to bless our brothers and sisters in Gaza, we will move as the Lord leads us.

* Please continue praying for real peace -- not just the absence of conflict but the presence of true justice and true security on both sides of the fence.

* Please also continue praying for the scores of children on both sides who are being traumatized by all the rockets and bombs -- pray for the Lord to comfort and care for them in a supernatural way.

* Please pray for the followers of Jesus in Israel and Gaza, that they will have courage and hope from the Lord, that they will hear from the Holy Spirit how best to love their neighbors and their enemies, and that by their words and actions they can communicate the good news of God's great love and plan for Israel and her neighbors.

* Please continue praying for wisdom and discernment for The Joshua Fund leadership team, as well. We are in contact with our allies on the ground in Israel and readying relief supplies to help them care for those in severe need.

* Please also pray that we can recruit 100,000 allies who are willing to pray knowledgeably, faithfully and consistently for the people of the epicenter. Already some 80,000 have signed up from around the world.

* Please also pray about helping us financially as this war escalates.

As always, we will do our best to keep you up-to-date on the kinds of projects we are doing, and 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. If you would like to make a secure, emergency contribution to the on-going work of The Joshua Fund on-line, 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.