The International Flavor of Serving in Israel

by Jill Czelusta –  Representative for Bridges for Peace

This is the fourth summer that the Lord has provided the funds for me to volunteer with Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem.  Each summer has become more and more enjoyable because of the friendships that have formed while serving the Jewish people in His Land.  Bridges for Peace (BFP) is an international organization with offices in at least eight different nations, so there are volunteers who come from all over the world.  Since I have had the privilege to return each summer, I have made friends with several long term volunteers that I keep in contact with throughout the year, and I make new ones with each visit.

This past Shabbat the volunteers who are here by themselves, like me, decided to get together for dinner.  As a short term volunteer, you are always invited to someone’s home for Shabbat, but this time we hosted ourselves at one of the volunteer’s apartment.  With the 10 of us around the table, nine countries were represented:  France, England, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States.  Ages ranged from early 20’s to 60 something.  The evening was filled with questions about how each of us ended up volunteering with BFP.  One by one, amazing stories were told of how God directed their steps and then faithfully provided for the call.  Over and over I heard my story.  First it was a dream to come and serve in Israel.  Each one had heard of BFP and how you could volunteer. Each one did not think they would have the funds to come, but God miraculously provided.  Three of them were young people who participated in the Zealous Project – an 11 month discipleship program for 18-30 year olds. When they completed that, they chose to return and serve some more.  Some were in midlife and just wanted to serve here in Jerusalem.  Some, like me, are spending their summer vacation here both serving and taking in the sights of Jerusalem and greater Israel on the weekends.

The other amazing thing that I have noticed is that when we go out on a delivery to bring food to the elderly Holocaust survivor, they always ask, “Where are you
from?”  One time I am with someone from Japan.  The next time I am with someone from New Zealand, then Canada, then England, then Ireland.  Each time, the Jewish person is so surprised that people from all over the world love them enough to spend their time and resources to carry a bag of groceries to their small apartment and to sit down and visit with them.  We listen to the stories – some very hard to hear – but necessary to hear, and remember. We cry together, and then laugh together as they tell of their children, grandchildren and great grand-children.  Then there are the hugs…the best part!

I am so thankful that the Lord has chosen to use me for this amazing ministry to the poor, the elderly and new immigrants of Israel.  I had the opportunity to deliver new school supplies and backpacks to a school in Bet Shemesh that BFP has been working with for 14 years.  The parents and students arrived and immediately began to hug the BFP staff and those from the Jewish agency that we partner with for this project.  I was surprised to see such appreciation for what I consider such a small gift – a backpack and assorted school supplies.  I also learned that BFP helps to pay the book fees for some of these students.  One of the parents thanked us because her son was one of those who received the help.  She said that for the first time last year, he received his books on the first day of school like most of the other kids.  He came home so happy that day and it made a difference for the whole year. She could not say thank you enough.

I will end with this.  As a Food Floor Worker, I come in contact with the families that come in once a week to receive their food parcels of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and canned goods.  I have the opportunity to greet them and, if they speak English, get to talk with them a bit.  Regardless, every one shakes my hand and says ‘Toda,’ or thank you.  One couple came into the work area because they insisted on saying thank you to everyone there.  They had ‘graduated,’ and this would be their last time to pick up food.  They had been on the program for one year and it was enough to get them on their feet and to get a job to provide for themselves.  They were so full of joy and so thankful.  They had experienced the love of Jesus through perfect strangers and the generosity of Christians from around the world.

I know that I am there to be a blessing, but I know I receive way more than I give out! Thank you to Women of the Word for your prayers and support throughout the years!

About Jill Czelusta: Jill visited Israel for the first time on a Bridges for Peace tour in 1995, returned in 2004, and has had a love for the Land and a heart for the Jewish people ever since. Jill is a friend of Women of the Word and has also been to Israel with WOW.  This is her fourth summer volunteering at the BFP Jerusalem Assistance Center.  She is a graduate of Institute of Israel Studies and is currently enrolled at Master’s International University of Divinity pursuing a Master’s Degree in Judeo-Christian Synergism.  During the school year, she teaches AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and pre-calculus at a private Christian school in northern Vermont.  Her undergraduate degree is in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Her other favorite pastime is visiting her 2 children and their families. Jill will be leading a tour of Israel in the summer of 2020.

Who Will Have Pity on you O Jerusalem? – Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem

by Betsy Roy

The Bible asks a poignant question in Jeremiah 15:5. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Jesus grieved and wept over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34,35 and Luke 19:41,42) because he knew Jerusalem would be trampled down in 70 AD and an hour is yet to come when all nations will come against Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. Yet the final outcome will be victorious for the Kingdom of God as King Jesus will rule from the Holy City and all who have survived of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:16).

In the meantime, much has happened in Jerusalem and Israel over the last 150 years or so as we witness the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home, the restoration of the Hebrew language, the blooming of the land, and most astounding the increase of Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah! Hallelujah!

Jerusalem is the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5). Not Tehran, nor Mecca, nor Cairo, nor Washington DC, nor Moscow, nor Bejing, nor Tokyo, nor London, nor Paris, nor Rome, nor any other city. It’s Jerusalem! In this city our Lord Jesus was crucified, died, resurrected and ascended back to heaven. To this city our Lord Jesus will return as his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. There is no city like it! It is unique!

Man has tried and continues to try to bring “peace” to this city, but it is beyond us! The Bible instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), but what does that really mean and how do we effectively do it? The meaning of Jerusalem is “teaching of peace”. Jeru means Torah or teaching. Salem means peace. The word “pray” in this Psalm means to “ask” so the phrase can be written to say “Ask about the prince of peace and his teaching of peace.” Therefore, when we pray for the “peace of Jerusalem” we aren’t praying for the absence of war per se although we can pray that the enemy of our souls not be allowed to bring war out of God’s timing. We should be praying that people (souls) that do not know Jesus as Messiah begin to ask about him and his teachings. We can also pray that those of us who do know him have a deeper understanding of his teachings and walk as disciples in this world. May we be salt and light and draw others to him.

We can pray that veil in front of the eyes of the Jewish people becomes thinner and thinner and that they will look up and recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and that a spirit of supplication and repentance comes upon them so they will cry “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:35). Only when this happens on a national level will the Lord return. Let us cry out for a great harvest of souls in Israel and throughout the Middle East of both Jew and Gentile.

In Hebrew the word “peace” means completenes, wholeness, a state when things are as God intends them to be so this is what we are asking of God. We are not asking Him to withhold the final time of war because as it is written, so it will surely come. Jesus prayed that we would understand the way of peace. May we understand it and pray for others to understand it also. That is “praying for the peace of Jersualem”.  Will you join me in it?

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.