From the Desk of Cheryl Hauer
One more trip to Israel! So, how many has it been? Seventy-five? More? And if you count the ten years that my husband and I lived there, how much of my life have I spent in that beautiful, chaotic, captivating, schizophrenic little place? Not nearly enough.
This was a brief trip, though, only a week, and it was strange, being there such a short time. I arrived on Sunday, my travel-weary brain just starting to clear around Tuesday, meetings Wednesday and Thursday, and finally Friday. No more meetings, the cobwebs gone, I was alert and beginning to experience the delight that only comes when you feel the soil of Jerusalem beneath your feet. And then it was Saturday morning and I was on a flight to London. Sort of like having to leave home just before the coffee is done.
But in that brief time, typical of Israel, I had experiences that I will never forget. In all my years of being with Bridges for Peace, I had never packed food at our assistance center in Jerusalem. Somehow, I was always too busy with other things, deadlines, speaking tours, “high-level” meetings, etc, etc, etc. But this time, I joined a team of amazing volunteers putting together food parcels to be distributed to the thousands of people we help every month. My pallet was going to Holocaust survivors.
Starting the day with worship and devotions had set the tone as we gathered in a circle and prayed for God’s anointing on every can of beans, every grain of rice, and for every individual who would receive them. And then the assembly line, every volunteer almost gleefully doing their part until all the bags were full, tied and placed on the pallet. And when the pallet was wrapped securely with clear plastic wrap, we gathered round, placed our hands on the bags and prayed again. And I wept. The atmosphere in that room was electric with the presence of God and the unadulterated joy on every face made it apparent to all of us this was indeed holy work.
But there was more to come. Later that day, we were privileged to participate in distributing life’s essentials to immigrants who have fled the war in Ukraine, arriving in Israel with literally nothing. In partnership with a Jewish organization, Bridges for Peace is supplying everything from heaters to pots and pans and dishes to baby diapers, blankets, towels and pillows to deodorant, shampoo and body wash…and more. They came from all over Israel in desperate need and left with more supplies than they could have imagined. But most important of all, they left with hope, knowing that they really are literally not alone. The fact that Christians from around the world actually care about them, anticipating their needs and then meeting them, praying for them, was bewildering to many. Eyes filled with tears, amazement on their faces, they whispered their thanks as they hugged us. More holy work; again, I wept.
We are living in dangerous and unsettling times. But as I watched Jews and Christians hugging each other, weeping together, the givers and the receivers aware that we are all part of something much larger than all of us, I was filled with an overwhelming sense that God is still very much in control. He is keeping promises made millennia ago and He won’t quit until He has fulfilled every one of them. What an incredible privilege to be a part of that fulfillment. Thank you, Father, for holy work.
Blessings and Shalom,