A new Gregorian year is beginning across the world and in Israel as well. Between the controversial judicial reform, increasing terrorism in Israel and increasing anti-Semitism throughout the world, the first half of 2023 was difficult. However, the year ended with the worst tragedy Israel has ever experienced: Hamas’ horrific massacre on October 7th and the resulting war, in which Israel is still embroiled.
As the new year begins, Israel likely has months of war ahead, both against Hamas and likely against Hizballah in Lebanon as well. Five other threats are also looming: Syria, Iran, Yemen, Iraq and Judea and Samaria. The reality of being surrounded by enemies brings with it not only physical danger but also social and economic challenges that Israel has not faced in many years. With this in mind, we invite you to partner with us in prayer for God’s Land and His people for the coming month and year.
“For her [Israel’s] stones are dear to Your servants and they cherish her dust.” – Psalms 102:15
PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR:
“Swords of Iron” – Civilians
“You have recorded my wanderings. You put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:9
Israeli civilians continue to live in extreme uncertainty as rocket attacks continue, the economy struggles, and leaders hint of prolonged war. 114 hostages have now returned home, sadly most of them in poor psychological – and sometimes physical – condition while 133 innocent people – both Israelis and those of different nationality – remain captive in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands are still displaced, laid off, or both.
The wider reality is that even Israelis who are not grieving a personal loss or evacuated from their homes are struggling. It is crucial to maintain the humanity of ordinary Israeli civilians throughout a conflict which is so often skewed in the media.
On a personal note, my (the writer’s) husband is currently serving in reserve duty on Israel’s northern border while I navigate my first pregnancy largely alone. This war affects me personally; it affects my husband, my marriage, my pregnancy and my mental health.
Israel is a country of less than 10 million people: if it’s not a husband, it’s a brother, a sister, a father or a son. Israel has not fought a war this long in over 40 years. The country is exhausted: ready for the war to end, ready to rebuild and to grieve its losses in peace. Yet there is no end in sight and the challenges caused by war continue to grow.
Please pray for:
- The release of ALL the hostages held by Hamas.
- The physical and emotional recovery of the released hostages.
- Stability and endurance for Israel’s economy
- Displaced Israelis as they deal with a wide range of challenges from PTSD to financial instability.
- Those suffering from PTSD, either from the October 7th massacre and current conflict or from Israel’s previous wars.
- Comfort for the families of Israel's fallen and hope for those whose loved ones are among those taken hostage by Hamas.
- Families of reservists who are struggling with practical and emotional challenges.
- Hope for all of the people of Israel as the war continues and the price Israel pays for its security continues to rise.
“Swords of Iron” – Soldiers and Security
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Psalm 23:4
The IDF continues to fight enemies whose goal is the destruction of the Jewish State, and not only in Gaza. Iran’s entire “axis of resistance,” which includes Hizballah in Lebanon and Syria, ISIS, the Houthis in Yemen, and even Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria, is armed and aimed towards Israel. Hizballah’s attacks have heated up significantly in recent weeks, leading parts of northern Israel to be closed and many to worry about a potential war with Hizballah as well as with Hamas. For the first time since the war began, an attack drone exploded in Israeli territory. A terror group based in Iraq and Syria took responsibility for the incident, which marks a serious escalation to Israel’s north-east.
Likewise, the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea continue to escalate, involving more and more other nations. In Judea and Samaria, the situation also remains tense and precarious and the IDF is working continuously to prevent additional terror attacks. Furthermore, all of this is even without taking into account Iran itself, which also aims to destroy Israel and has the means to do so.
Sadly, multiple friendly fire incidents have occurred this month, including one in which 3 hostages were tragically and accidentally killed by the IDF in Gaza. The incident is mentioned here to showcase the pressure under which the Israeli soldiers in Gaza find themselves day and night.
Some of these soldiers have not been home since October 7th and have been inside Gaza for over two months. During this time, they are under constant emotional, physical and psychological stress, which wears them down over time as they fight an enemy who plays on their desire to preserve life through impersonating civilians.
The extreme stress under which soldiers find themselves has a psychological toll, which is sadly illustrated in an incident which occurred this week. During time off from the fighting in Gaza, a soldier was startled awake in his room on a military base in Israel and opened fire inside the room. Other soldiers were mildly injured by shrapnel from the shooting, and the soldier was evacuated for medical care.
Although none of this excuses the tragic incident which occurred, it should offer additional motivation to pray for Israel’s soldiers!
Please pray for:
- Protection over Israel's security forces in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, as well as on Israel’s northern and southern fronts.
- Emotional and mental renewal for soldiers fighting in Gaza as well as practical support, encouragement and provision.
- The success of Israel’s current military objectives in Gaza and beyond
- Healing for injured soldiers and soldiers suffering from PTSD.
- For deterrence against Iran, Hizballah and the Houthis and for stability and calm in Judea and Samaria
- A long-term solution to terrorism in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and Lebanon
- Revival in Iran and in all the Middle East, that people would come to know the God of Israel!
“Swords of Iron” – Leaders and Government
“A king’s heart is like water in the hand of the LORD.” – Proverbs 21:1
Israel currently has a unity government composed of members of the former coalition and former opposition. On the one hand this presents a unified front and gives the government more power to act regarding the war.
On the other hand, there are still serious disagreements between various members of the Knesset; the remaining differences have become especially apparent this month. After months of political turmoil, preceding the war, the conflict inside the government is especially concerning to Israelis. It is also frustrating to see petty disagreements instead of practical measures to support struggling civilians.
Military leaders also face a reality filled with difficult decisions. The friendly fire incident involving the hostages brings home the complexity of planning and directing a war of this scale and sensitivity.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom for Israel’s military and political leaders during this complex and difficult time.
- Unity within the government.
- That the LORD would work through Israel’s leaders during this time.
The International Front of “Swords of Iron”
Israel continues to fight for legitimacy on the international stage, especially at the UN but also bilaterally with numerous other states and non-state actors. One party with which Israel is fighting for legitimacy is the International Red Cross, who only reluctantly called for the release of the hostages held in Gaza and only days before a deal was reached to release many of them.
Israel continues to fight for recognition of the hostages as well as for recognition of Hamas’ use of sexual violence both on October 7th and most likely against female hostages since. International women’s organizations continue to turn a blind eye to these horrific war crimes used by Hamas against both Israeli and international women.
Please pray for:
- Continued international support of Israel, including continued grassroots support.
- International pressure on Hamas to unconditionally release all hostages.
- Continued diplomatic and military support of the war from Israel’s allies abroad.
- God’s protection and blessing over the many individuals working to defend Israel internationally.
- The world’s eyes to be opened to the truth of who Hamas is, including recognizing its crimes against women.
The Growth of Anti-Semitism
“My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse.” – Genesis 12:3
Anti-Semitism continues to grow throughout the world with multiple foiled terror attacks against Jews throughout the Western world and daily incidents of harassment. College campuses remain a hotspot for anti-Semitism. Jewish students on college campuses increasingly feel uncomfortable and even unsafe and many testify that university leadership has if anything allowed anti-Semitism to blossom on campus.
This reality was brought into focus in a congressional hearing with the leaders of three prestigious academic universities this last month. Shockingly, all three women struggled to agree that calling for the genocide of Jews qualifies as harassment. Just as the well-meaning public turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism before World War Two, too many people are ignoring anti-Semitism today. This should be an issue which every believer takes seriously and works to combat, each in their own sphere.
Please pray for:
- For protection over Israelis and Jews throughout the world
- For peoples’ eyes to be opened to the real and serious threat posed by anti-Semitism
- For a wave of Aliyah to Israel in the face of growing anti-Semitism
- Prayer points
HFI Prayer requests:
We continue to prayerfully seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance to implement a renewed vision amid a tragic and costly war.
Please join us in praying for:
Moran continues to be completely devoted to the ministry’s emergency response efforts since the war broke out. He is busy each day in the field, providing support for those we have evacuated from the north & south of Israel; ensuring that the evacuated families have what they need; visiting injured soldiers & providing support for their families; and delivering aid to anyone who is in need.
He also continues to oversee the ministry’s Israel advocacy & information project, as it is crucial for people to receive reliable information out of Israel right now. His personal social media platforms are constantly bombarded with hatred and anti-Israel propaganda attacks, which can be exhausting to confront.
Please continue to pray for:
- Wisdom regarding the various aspects of the ministry that he oversees.
- Strength & wisdom as he provides support for friends & families who have lost their loved ones in the war, all the while dealing with personal loss related to the war.
- Strength, wisdom, protection & health during this intense time of war.
- Guidance and inspiration as he writes his weekly Scripture commentaries.
- Peace during this difficult season
HFI Staff & Board Members
Please pray for:
- Blessing over our staff & board members who devote time and energy to executing our vision for the ministry
- Protection over their families while they serve
- Wisdom for the board members as they make decisions that impact the ministry in tangible ways
- Our US representative Bill Katz as he drives and flies thousands of miles every week to speak on behalf of Hope for Israel, for health & traveling mercies, protection over his wife and daughter while he is traveling, and for fruitful meetings and speaking engagements. Please pray for protection over Bill during this period as anti-Semitism continues to grow throughout the world.
Threefold Vision for Empowering the Future Generation of Believers
Please pray for:
- Wisdom for the staff as they continue this year’s program.
- Unity in the hearts of the team
NerYah Youth Group:
Last month, we celebrated the holiday of Hannukah with the believing youth, and it was a meaningful and touching meeting! We focused on the light of the Messiah and on the hope that we have during difficult times. The believing youth also really enjoyed themselves during the activities!
We also held a boys’ meeting and a girls’ meeting this month and it was special to spend time with the youth in this forum as well, while doing things they enjoy and learning from God’s Word.
Additionally, another counselor joined our leadership team for NerYah which is a real answer to prayer!
Please pray for/that:
- Wisdom for the leadership staff in knowing how to support the youth through the war and its accompanying challenges and fears.
- Wisdom for the leadership staff as they seek to offer support and encouragement specifically to the high school seniors, who will be drafting to the army next year.
- Protection over one of our youth coordinators, Ro’i, who is currently serving in IDF reserve duty.
- More dedicated male counselors would join our NerYah leadership team.
This month we distributed care packages to all of our believing soldiers who are serving in active and reserve duty throughout Israel. Many of the soldiers were touched and excited to receive the packages, which we delivered personally to their homes and bases. They said they were especially encouraged by the gifts coming during a challenging time of war.
Additionally, we received a testimony from one soldier who we took out for coffee and dessert on her birthday She said, “It’s amazing that you’re here! Thank you all so much for everything.”
Please pray for:
- Protection over all our soldiers, especially those on the front lines but also those who work in support positions, as well as peace. Please pray that God would touch them during this time and give them strength and comfort.
- For leaders, male and female, who truly care and believe in the importance of investing in soldiers during their service.
Post-Military & University Students
Just as we brought Hannukah care packages to all of our active-duty soldiers this month, we also brought gifts to the believing reserve-duty soldiers, as well as gifts to the spouses of those who are married. They were very surprised and touched that we came to their homes to deliver the gifts! Here are two testimonies from reserve-duty soldiers:
“I really appreciate the hard work that you do! Thank you.”
“Thank you all. This is encouraging and heartwarming.”
For students, please pray for:
- A return to normalcy and routine for students specifically but also for all of Israel!
- Students who have begun studying virtually, which makes focusing during classes and maintaining a routine more difficult.
- Those who have lost their jobs as a result of the war and are looking for work.
- The families where husbands/fathers were called to reserve duty leaving a wife and children at home. That those called to reserves would return home safely.
- Students whose academic years have not yet begun due to the war. They are currently dealing with uncertainty and a lack of routine.
- The war to end and for peace in Israel.
For released soldiers please pray for:
- God’s peace and protection during this difficult time.
- Protection over all those who are serving in Israel’s reserves right now.
- Wisdom for us as we call them to offer encouragement and for openness with us from the side of the soldiers.
HFI Media Projects
During a period when Israel is not only fighting a physical war but diplomatic and public pressures and fake news as well, we see our work in media to be doubly important!
We are currently in the process of finding a suitable candidate to replace our social media manager, who recently left the ministry. During a time of war, this is especially stressful and we would appreciate your prayers that the right person would join our staff!
Please pray for:
- A new social media manager.
- Wisdom to manage attacks against our platforms and content and for the cessation of such attacks.
- Strength and wisdom for our media team as they continue to produce new content for our website, email and social media, especially during the current war.
- Insight and wisdom to offer fact-based and Scripture-based answers to those who oppose Israel; that God would use our content to change peoples’ hearts and minds!
- A video crew that we can work with in Israel to generate new content.
- Creating a grassroots movement of Israel advocacy via YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram
- Informative & interesting articles and other original material that will educate our audience and encourage their support of Israel now and always.
- Insight and efficiency in updating our website and messaging; that God would provide the right website designer.
One of the main objectives of our tour operation is to cover ministry overhead, so that a higher percentage of donations can go to projects. Sadly, due to the war, all our groups through February have either canceled or rescheduled for later in 2024, leaving the tour operation without any income for the foreseeable future. This has been a very challenging logistical operation, and at times stressful.
Please continue to pray for:
- wisdom for Moran & Melissa as they face challenging decisions regarding the tour operations in light of the current war.
- the 2024 EXPERIENCE ISRAEL TOUR – for wisdom regarding the timing of the tour and patience for all involved in planning the tour.
God has been so faithful in providing for the ministry's operating and project costs! We ask that you pray that He will continue to do so, and that we will be able to bless more Israelis than ever!
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