We welcomed the joyful holiday of Hanukkah at the end of November, while also receiving news that Israel had closed its borders to tourists once again. Sadly, just as the tourism sector began to open, it was shutdown completely. December is traditionally a very busy month for tourism in Israel, especially due to Christian pilgrims coming to celebrate Christmas. We are hopeful that Israel will reopen its borders by mid-December. We are also hopeful that this month will bring abundant rain. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm, so we pray for cooler and rainy weather this month.
PLEASE JOIN US IN INTERCEDING ON BEHALF OF ISRAEL FOR:
The Iranian Problem
Iran continues to be a tough enemy for Israel. The oppressive Iranian regime continues to develop its illicit nuclear program, while world leaders try to slow it through diplomatic measures. Israeli officials have made it clear Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon on its watch. Last month, Israel engaged in extended military exercises with the United States and other Gulf countries in preparations for a possible military confrontation with Iran. In the north of Israel, Hezbollah are constantly provoking Israel along the Lebanese border; in Syria, Iranian troops are establishing a stronger presence while setting up rocket launchers towards Israel; in the Gaza Strip, Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to re-arm in the event that Israel has an all-out war with Iran. Please continue to pray for this situation with Iran! Please pray that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon, which could be devastating for the Middle East. Please also pray for protection over Israeli citizens and our soldiers as well. Lastly, please continue to pray for wisdom for Israeli military and government officials as they are constantly faced with difficult decisions in this situation.
Coronavirus in Israel
Israel sealed off its borders to all tourists the last few days of November. This disappointing measure was due to fears of the Omicron variant entering the country, creating yet another possible wave of infections. The closure is expected to last for two weeks. To date, only a handful of Omicron cases have been reported in Israel. At the time of writing, there are just over 500 new cases reported daily, and just over 120 people are in serious condition. The infection rate (R-rate) is slightly over 1, which means infections are on the rise, but officials do not seem concerned about it at this time. Israeli researchers continue to look for more promising ways to treat infections, especially as recent studies have shown many existing medications to effectively treat COVID-19. Please continue to pray for Israel in this time, especially that we will not enter yet another wave of infections. Please also pray for a full recovery for all infected by the virus. Lastly, please pray that Israel will discover more effective treatments for the virus so that we do not solely rely on vaccines.
Netanyahu Corruption Trial
Former Prime Minister Netanyahu's corruption trial has been in full swing. Recently, his former aide testified about alleged media bribery that Netanyahu is accused of engaging in during his tenure as Prime Minister. While this kind of charge is relatively new, the main challenge for the prosecution is to prove that Netanyahu knew what he was doing was illegal, which is a difficult task. There are other charges levied against Netanyahu, some of which include fraud, misuse of state funds, and taking bribes. Netanyahu is the head of the opposition in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, and although he has lost a great deal of power, his influence is still felt in many areas of politics today. He is still quite popular among many Israelis, so it is difficult to tell how they would receive a conviction. There has been speculation that a conviction could lead to many demonstrations, and possibly even violent ones. Please pray that true justice will be served if Netanyahu did engage in illegal activity. Please pray that, if convicted, that Israelis would not become further divided, or that the country would not fall into civil infighting.
Sky-High Cost of Living
For the first time ever, Tel Aviv ranked as the world's most expensive city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The strong Shekel (Israel's currency) coupled with quickly rising inflation brought Israel's most famous metropolis to this ranking. Tel Aviv currently outranks Paris and Singapore, both of which came in second. Average prices for commodities have risen 3.5 percent, which is the fastest inflation rate recorded in over five years. This is not good news for an already struggling population, the majority of whom are still reeling from the devastating economic effects of COVID. Just for context, Israelis pay 17% VAT (Value Added Tax) on every single product, including food; gas costs a whopping $8.50/gallon; and food costs on average 2-3 times more than what it costs in North America. It is not uncommon for a family to pay over $1,200/month just on groceries. Please pray that Israel's sky-high cost of living will come down quickly, especially as inflation skyrockets. Please also pray for wisdom for Israel's Minister of Finance, Avigdor Lieberman, as he navigates this challenging situation. Lastly, please pray for all the families and individuals who are struggling to provide their basic needs in this expensive economy!
Israel receives 70% of its yearly rainfall between November and March. Last month was quite dry, which is a bit worrisome for Israelis, as we heavily rely on rainfall to replenish our main freshwater source, the Sea of Galilee. While we did receive some rain, it was much lower than hoped for. Please continue to pray for an abundant rainy season for Israel this year! Please also pray that people will be wise about their water consumption and not waste any of Israel's precious water.
FOLLOWING ARE SOME MINISTRY REQUESTS FOR HOPE FOR ISRAEL:
Moran & Family
Moran had a very fruitful trip to the States in November, and is scheduled to be home for the next few months. He continues to seek wisdom from the Lord about the ever-changing nature of the ministry in these times. He also faces challenging decisions regarding the tour operations, especially with Israel's recent border closure, so please keep praying for wisdom, discernment, peace, and patience for him! Please also pray for his family, for health, patience, flexibility, and grace during the winter months.
The board met last month for its yearly meeting, which was very fruitful! Please continue to pray for wisdom for the board as they continue to make important decisions that affect the future of the ministry. Please also 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.
Please continue to keep our staff in prayer this month, especially for health as the winter season is here. Please also pray as we seek to hire an Operational Manager in our Jerusalem office. We also ask for prayer for Bill Katz, our U.S. representative who continues to travel to new congregations throughout the States. Please cover his family in prayer while he travels, as well as guidance from the Holy Spirit as he teaches, and open hearts to receive his messages. Please pray for new doors with congregations to partner with HFI, as well as a strengthening of current partnerships. Please pray for all our staff who have small children, for health and protection.
NerYah Youth Group
The believing youth group continues to meet every week, as long as the government does not put additional restrictions on indoor meetings. The staff still faces challenges with the Coronavirus regulations, but they continue to be faithful in serving the youth. The youth get a weeklong break from school for the Hanukkah holiday this month, which will be a great opportunity for them to rest and be refreshed. Please pray that the program will continue to run strong and that the youth will be hungry for God's word, participate in meetings, and ask questions. Please also continue to pray for Tigist, Emunah, & Ro'i, that they will receive wisdom, encouragement, and clear direction, and for unity among the team. Please pray for a blessing on the young adult volunteers who give so generously of their time and resources to the youth. Please continue to pray for health for the youth and protection from infection from the coronavirus and flu.
Believing Soldiers Groups
Please continue to pray for the believing soldiers with whom our team is working, for emotional and physical health, especially as numerous soldiers have been ill or struggled with chronic medical conditions. Please also pray for our believing lone soldiers, for strength, encouragement, and protection from loneliness as they navigate this challenging time. Pray that they will seek excellence in their service and be a strong witness of Yeshua to their peers, not just in word, but also in deed. Please also pray for more young adult volunteers to join. Lastly, please continue to pray that the soldiers will be reminded that God is in control, and that He cares for them!
The students are approaching exams and papers this month before the Fall term ends at the end of January. Please continue to pray for the believing students who receive financial & mentorship support from us, that they would be encouraged this academic year. Please pray for Tigist as she leads this specific program and mentors the students in various areas. Please also pray for wisdom, patience, peace, and clear guidance as she also works with Sapir in implementing the upcoming year's activities. Lastly, please continue to pray for an abundant financial provision for us to continue to award scholarships that will impact Israel's believing students for years to come.
Beyond the Headlines Project
We released a new video last month, highlighting the amazing work of an Israeli organization that brings solar power and clean water to remote African villages. We are working on new videos and articles that advocate for Israel, while accurately portraying Israel's complex history, and declaring that God is NOT DONE WITH ISRAEL. This project is incredibly important in these times! Please pray for the entire process of writing, filming, editing, and distributing the videos. Please pray for our team who has to constantly sift through disturbing and hateful anti-Israel hatred on a regular basis on our various social media sites. Please also pray for a fruitful distribution of the videos and a wide reception of them. Lastly, please pray for the necessary funds in order to keep this project going strong! You can find all our videos on our YouTube channel, as well as follow the Facebook page for this specific project.
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 of economic recovery from the pandemic. 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.
We faced a huge setback with Israel sealing its borders at the end of November. Sadly, we were not able to host a tour group that was supposed to arrive to Israel. This has been a very frustrating season and we seek the Lord for wisdom for our next steps. The good news, however, is that our Experience Israel Study Tour in Feb/Mar 2022 is almost full! Please join us in praying for wisdom for Moran as he continues to make challenging decisions regarding the tour operations. Please pray for BJ for wisdom and flexibility in working with all those involved in rescheduling tours from 2020. Lastly, please pray that we will find a strong candidate to fill the position of Tour Coordinator in our Israel office as soon as possible
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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