Prayer Letter — August 2020

It's hard to believe that August is already here! Sadly, due to the Coronavirus, the country is still closed to visitors, and Israelis who would normally be traveling, are stuck at home. Summer camps have mostly been cancelled, except for Kindergarten through 4th grade, as have sleep away camps, pools, movie theaters, and such. It's a very different summer than we had all planned for! This month is usually a challenging month because childcare is hard to find, but it is especially difficult because grandparents cannot watch children while parents go to work, due to the virus. Israel is also dealing with security issues in the north, along its border with Lebanon & Syria. We ask that you join us as we seek the Lord together for peace, wisdom, patience, calm, and health for the people of Israel.


Tensions in the North
In late July, the IDF thwarted an infiltration attempt along its northern border with Lebanon. No Israelis were hurt in the operation, but tensions are particularly high as we go into August. Israel has been accused of military operations in Syria, which have destroyed Iranian-backed militias and weapons caches. Meanwhile, the Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah, has promised retaliation for one of its fighters who was killed in Syria, supposedly by Israel. PM Netanyahu has warned that anyone who attempts to attack Israel will suffer intense consequences, although General Aviv Kokhavi, Israel's Chief of Staff, stated that Hezbollah would most likely make a retaliatory move soon. Please pray for Israel's protection from such enemies who seek Israel's total destruction. Please also pray for great wisdom for Israel's military leaders as they navigate difficult circumstances in the midst of a pandemic, which only complicates matters. Lastly, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for Israel to find peace with its neighbors one day soon.

Israeli Economy & High Unemployment
The second wave of Coronavirus has caused Israel's unemployment rate to almost double in the past month. It rose from 4.5% to 7.6% since mid-June, according to a recent report by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Industries hardest hit are tourism, food & beverage, transportation, and construction. At this point, only about 79% of Israelis are in the workforce. These staggering statistics will have long-term effects on the economy that no one can quite predict. The number of families in need has risen exponentially, and thousands of families throughout the country are struggling to put food on the table and pay for basic bills. Please pray for Israel's economy to recover quickly, despite the doom & gloom predictions. Please also pray for families who are struggling, that the Lord will miraculously provide and for the Body of Messiah to join together to bless those around us in this difficult season. Lastly, please pray for wisdom for the government as they seek ways to aid the unemployed.

Political Turmoil & Civil Unrest
The Likud party, which is the party of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, is rapidly falling in popularity, mostly due to its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, Netanyahu's corruption trial, and what appears to be the party's lack of concern for providing economic aid to struggling Israelis. Furthermore, PM Netanyahu sent shockwaves throughout the country in late July when he suggested that he would call for elections in November. This sparked an outpouring of protests in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and growing unrest in all parts of Israeli society. Protests have turned violent in many cases, and the police have been caught in the middle of an ugly tension between the government and the people. Many in Israel are concerned about an increasingly divided country and the violence happening between those for and against Netanyahu. Please pray for Israel in this difficult time, and for an immediate end to violence. Please also pray that Israel's government will understand the need to represent the people and not their own interests. Lastly, please pray for immediate viable solutions to the situations causing extreme frustration, such as high unemployment, closures, and high cost of living.

Coronavirus in Israel
Professor Roni Gamzu, Israel's government-appointed Coronavirus "czar" unveiled a strategic plan at the end of July called "Shield of Israel", which will hopefully help Israel combat the sharp rise in Coronavirus cases over the past two months. The second wave of the virus hit Israel at the end of June, and Israel now sees over 2,000 new confirmed cases daily of people infected with the virus. The main concern now is slowing the spread of infection, and re-opening schools and other parts of Israel's economy, which until now, have mostly remained closed. Hospitals are starting to become overwhelmed with patients in critical condition, which is another real concern. Please pray for full & complete healing for those sick with the virus, especially those in critical condition. Please continue to pray for medical staff, for strength, patience, renewal, and protection from getting infected. Please also pray that this latest effort to slow the spread of the virus will be successful, without having to further close down the economy.

Tourism in Israel
The tourist sector in Israel continues to be devastated by the country's closure since mid-March. This is a big hit to an economy in which around 6% of the GDP typically comes from tourism. Israel is still closed to tourists, and the government announced that it will remain closed past the High Holy Days in September. This was devastating news, especially to those who work in tourism, since the High Holy Days are a particularly popular time for tourists to visit the country.  The current travel restrictions will make a lasting impact in Israel, and it will take years to recover from them. Pray that God will give wise solutions to all affected by the current blow to the tourism industry. Please pray for miraculous provision for those employed in the tourism industry, as government aid has been virtually non-existent, and it's becoming increasingly hard to put food on the table.


Moran & Family
Moran continues to enjoy more time in the office with the staff, especially the newer employees he will be able to get to know better now that he won't be traveling. He is working closely with them as they plan the upcoming academic year for NerYah youth group, as well as consulting with our staff in charge of the believing soldiers' and university students groups. He continues to face challenging decisions regarding the ministry and the tour operations, so please keep praying for wisdom, discernment, peace, and patience for him! Please also pray for his family as they enter this month without any summer camp options available, for peace at home and that they'll find creative ways to keep busy while enjoying more time to rest and be with each other.

HFI Board
Please pray 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
In our season of restructuring, we have put Tigist in charge of the entire Threefold Vision of investing in the future generation! She has been with us for 7 years and aside from being very capable, she also has a special heart for the next generation of believers in Israel. She is doing an incredible job of managing this important project and we ask for prayer for her, for wisdom, discernment, and ways to encourage the staff working under her. Our staff continues to work from the office in Jerusalem and will do so as long as government restrictions allow. Please pray for their health and protection from infection. Please pray for our staff as we continue to adjust to “normal” and also during restructuring within the ministry. Please also keep our staff and their families covered in prayer, especially as we continue to face the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak in Israel.

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.

NerYah Youth Group
Hellen & Eliashiv are doing an amazing job of thinking of new and creative summer activities for the believing youth while honoring the current government restrictions on gatherings. This is really important as so many other activites for youth are closed down due to the virus. Please continue to pray for Hellen & Eliashiv, and for the other young adult volunteers that they will receive wisdom, encouragement, and clear direction in this time and in their planning the upcoming academic year. Please also pray that the youth will have a hunger for God's word and desire Him in their lives. Lastly, please continue to pray for health and protection from infection for the youth.

Believing Soldiers Groups
Efrat & Judi continue to encourage the soldiers virtually as soldiers are under tight restrictions leaving their bases. The soldiers' group will continue to meet virtually for now. Please continue to pray especially 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. Please also pray that the believing soldiers' witness of Messiah in their lives would be lived out naturally, and that by their example, many will come to see His love for them. 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
Many students are still taking exams and submitting final papers this month. Tigist continues to be in touch with the students, online and via the phone, sending encouraging words, praying with them, and providing tools to get through this challenging time. The scholarship committee will meet this month to determine how to award scholarships to students for the upcoming academic year. Please pray for wisdom for them as well as an abundant financial provision for us to award the scholarships. Please also pray for the students to finish the academic year strong, and enjoy a time of rest before the academic year commences in October.

Foundations of the Faith Book
Please continue to pray that every copy of this discipleship resource will have a personal impact on those who read it and draw many into an increasingly deeper relationship with God! Please pray for a wider distribution of the book, that it will reach many people and that they will be strengthened and challenged. We have the book printed in Hebrew, English, Russian, & Spanish.

Our tours have all either been cancelled or rescheduled for later this year because of the pandemic. Please join us in praying for wisdom for Moran as he faces some tough decisions regarding the tour operations. Hope for Israel’s tours generate income for the ministry, which goes to cover our overhead, thus allowing a higher percentage of donations to go to our projects (click here to learn more). Pray for peace, wisdom, and unity among the leadership team of the tours as they continue to face tough challenges in light of the pandemic.

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

In His Service,

The Hope for Israel Prayer Team

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