Prayer Letter — April 2021

April is full of significant holidays in Israel. As we are coming off the holiday of Passover, with its meaningful Seder meal on the first night, and then one full week of gathering with family and friends, we are all feeling the relief from a lower infection rate of the Coronavirus. Last year at this time, Israel was in full lockdown and Passover was a lonely time for so many. We are very grateful that the Lord has heard our cries for relief from the affliction of the virus, reminding us that He hears our prayers and is faithful to answer.

Holocaust Remembrance Day; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Ramadan
April holds many significant days for both Jewish and Arab Israelis. The first day we observe this month is Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) which begins sundown on Wednesday, April 7th. It is a somber day when we remember what can happen when anti-Semitism is allowed to flourish, as it did in Germany prior to WWII, where 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by Hitler's regime. Ramadan, the month of fasting, prayer, and reflection for Muslims, begins on Tuesday, April 13th. It is a very significant season for Israel's 1.9 million Muslims, as it is for Muslims throughout the world. This is followed by Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) where we remember all who have been killed in war or terror attacks in Israel since 1948, when Israel became a nation again after a two-thousand-year exile. This difficult day is followed by Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day), where we will celebrate Israel's 73rd year as a reestablished independent nation! It is always a sobering reminder that our freedom is never free, and that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Please pray for peaceful and meaningful observations of these various days, especially since historically, unrest and terror attacks have happened in these times. Please also pray for all of Israel, Jew and Gentile alike, to recognize the God of Israel's faithfulness and compassion to all, namely in His Son, Yeshua!

Israeli Politics
There is no clear winner in the recent election. Sitting Prime Minister Netanyahu's party, Likud, failed to get the clear majority of mandates in order to form a government. Now is the time when the smaller parties that passed the threshold to sit in the government are being wooed by both Netanyahu and his main opponent, Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), to join their sides. This is when backroom deals happen and Israeli politics can get quite heated. The problem with not being able to form a government is that Israelis will be forced into an unprecedented fifth election in two years. Israelis are weary from the political circus and cronyism that have engulfed the government, and there is serious concern that if necessary, a fifth election would result in a very low voter turnout. Please pray that we will get a clear direction in the next few weeks for a new government. Please also pray for unity among an increasingly divided Israeli population especially as things have turned violent at times between supporters of various parties.

Coronavirus in Israel
Israel's robust vaccination campaign beginning in December 2020 is credited with a sharp decline in the infection rate in the country. After three lockdowns and more time spent in quarantine than any other nation in the world, Israelis are breathing a tentative sigh of relief. New infections are down 30% since Israel emerged from the last lockdown in early March, and Israel's infection rate stands at 1%. Currently, there are less than 400 patients in serious condition in the country, with 202 of them on ventilators. A recent study at an Israeli hospital showed that antibodies decrease significantly after one month of the second shot, which is raising concern that a possible third booster shot will be needed. Despite this latest news, Israel's economy is starting to come back to life now that restaurants, malls, movie theaters, museums, and other cultural venues have reopened. Unfortunately, the tourism sector still remains closed which continues to negatively impact so many Israelis who work in tourism. Please continue to pray that Israel will see more and more breakthroughs in our fight against the virus. Please also pray for full healing for all who are sick, and for protection for those who have not yet been infected. Lastly, please continue to pray for those struggling due to the virus's devastating effect on Israel's economy. May the Lord supernaturally provide for them and may we continue to see Israelis helping one another in these tough times.

Tensions with Iran
Tensions with Iran continue to be quite high. The Iranian bombing attack near the Israeli embassy in India in January is yet another indication that Iran is ramping up attacks. In late March, Iranian hackers targeted Israeli & American medical personnel, gaining access to cutting-edge research that both countries are conducting. While it is unclear how Iran plans to use this data, it is clear that the threat continues to grow. Israel has warned Israelis from traveling to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two countries that recently normalized relations with Israel, out of fear of Iranian attacks on Israelis. Please continue to pray for Israel's protection from Iran and its proxies that constantly seek our total destruction. Please also pray for wisdom for our military leaders, that they would have the ability to stop attacks before they happen. Lastly, please pray that the plans of Israel's enemies will be absolutely frustrated and that all will see the mighty hand of God move to defend Israel, the apple of His eye!


Moran & Family
Moran continues to seek wisdom from the Lord about the ever-changing nature of the ministry in these times. Now that things are opening up and Israel has relaxed travel restrictions, he is praying about when to start traveling again. He has really enjoyed being able to be present with the staff throughout the past year, and be in the office. It has been a season of great discipleship and growth! He also continues to face challenging decisions regarding the tour operations, so please keep praying for wisdom, discernment, peace, and patience for him! Please also pray for his family, for health, patience, flexibility, and grace as they continue to navigate these unprecedented times. Please especially pray for protection over their children's health.

HFI Board
Please pray for wisdom for the board as they continue to make important decisions that affect the future of the ministry. Please pray for protection over all of HFI’s board members and their families, that the Lord would shield them from illness and spiritual warfare. Please also pray for healing for several of the board members’ spouses from various diseases and for strength during these difficult health challenges.

HFI Staff
Our staff continues to work in capsules to reduce possible exposure to the virus. It continues to be a challenge to juggle the ever-changing situation, but our staff is meeting the challenge with grace and eagerness! Please pray for our staff as we are all juggling work and family responsibilities. Please also keep our staff and their families covered in prayer, especially as we continue to face the unique challenges presented by the pandemic.

NerYah Youth Group
The youth group continues to meet virtually and has developed a network of small groups by geographic area so that the youth can be in touch with one another and be of mutual encouragement. The leadership also contacts each one of the youth regularly to check in and encourage them. We are very grateful that the government restrictions allow a limited number of youth to gather in person; to that end, we are excited to host 30 youth on the first trip this month! We are hopeful it will be a time of refreshment for the youth after such a long season of not being able to meet. Please continue to pray for protection of the youth from stress due to the pandemic.  While Israel is coming out of lockdown more and more, many youth are still not attending school five days a week, so they're missing their friends. Please also continue to pray for Tigist, Hellen & Eliashiv, and for the other young adult volunteers that they will receive wisdom, encouragement, and clear direction in this time, and for unity among the team. Lastly, please continue to pray for health and protection from infection for the youth.

Believing Soldiers Groups
Please continue to pray for the believing soldiers with whom Efrat and Judi are working, that they would be strengthened by God's grace and peace in these tough times. We have one soldier who is an officer in a new unit, and that can be a rough transition, so please pray for "I" that he will have grace for this new position. Please also pray for a lone soldier who was able to visit her family abroad, whom she hasn't seen in such a long time!  May her time with her family refresh and replenish her. Please also continue to pray for the soldiers' emotional and physical health, and for those newly released, for wisdom for their next steps. Please also pray for the young adult volunteers to continue to have a fresh desire to bless and encourage the believing soldiers. Lastly, please continue to pray that our outreach will be a constant encouragement and reminder that God is in control, and that He cares for them!

University Students
Vaccinated students have returned to campus! After one year doing remote learning, many students are excited to be back in physical classrooms. We continue to develop virtual mentoring workshops, and are in touch with each student to support and encourage them. We also have requests to help students with purchasing computer equipment for their studies. Please continue to pray for the believing students who receive financial & mentorship support from us, that they would be able to focus on their studies and achieve excellence despite the challenges that they face. Please continue to pray for an abundant financial provision for us to continue to award scholarships that will impact Israel's believing students.

Ministry Finances
We ask for prayer that God will continue to bless the ministry’s finances so that we can continue to pay our staff salaries, our bills, and most importantly, to bless as many people as possible, especially in this season where so many people in Israel have lost their jobs and businesses. Please pray that, as much as possible, we will have a financial blessing to continue with our current projects to bless the people of Israel, and really help those in need in this season.

We are still hopeful that we can host our annual Experience Israel Tour in June! Registration is open and we pray for many to join this special tour, which includes an optional extension to Greece. These tours generate income for the ministry, which goes to cover our overhead, thus allowing a higher percentage of donations to go to our projects. The closure of the tourism sector in Israel for an entire year has significantly impacted the overall financial situation of HFI.  We are hopeful that we will resume tour operations in 2021, but things change daily and it is very difficult to plan anything with any kind of certainty. Please join us in praying for wisdom for Moran as he continues to make tough decisions regarding the tour operations. Please pray for Judi & BJ for wisdom and flexibility in working with all those involved in rescheduling tours from 2020. There are still many details "up in the air" due to ever-changing local rules and global regulations, not only specific to sites in Israel, but also individual to the airlines, hotels and other players. Lastly, please pray for the Lord's continuous provision for the ministry despite the lack of income from the tours!

Thank you for joining us in prayer for these things! May the LORD bless you!

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