March is going to be a big month for Israel! Israelis will go back to the polls to elect yet another Knesset (parliament) on March 23rd. We then celebrate Passover at sundown on March 27th. Both of these events are significant for Israel, especially in these tough times. Israel has seen a marked decrease in the number of critically ill patients due to its vigorous vaccination campaign. However, the number of infections among youth is up. To date, over 3 million Israelis have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and are fully vaccinated. We hope this trend continues and that we can begin to emerge from the pandemic, and start to slowly rebuild our lives post-Coronavirus. In other good news, schools are beginning to reopen and we hope that this month, all students will be back in the classroom! Gyms, theaters, and other cultural venues have reopened but only to those who have either recovered from Coronavirus, thereby having a natural immunity, or have been fully vaccinated.
PLEASE JOIN US IN INTERCEDING ON BEHALF OF ISRAEL FOR:
Passover is one of Israel's most significant holidays. Passover begins sundown on March 27th and lasts for one week. During this time, Jewish people abstain from any food that has hametz (leavening) in it and we eat matza instead. It is a time when families and friends gather, and tables are festively set with traditional foods passed down over the years. We recite prayers and songs found in the traditional Seder, as we remember God's faithful deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. This year, we are not sure we will be able to gather with extended family and friends, but we are hopeful! Please pray for all Israelis who celebrate this special holiday, for peaceful and healthy gatherings. Please pray for the families who lost loved ones from COVID this past year, as this year's celebrations will undoubtedly be a mix of grief and joy. Lastly, please pray for individuals and families who are struggling financially in this time, as Passover can be an especially difficult time to put extra food on the table.
Coronavirus in Israel
The Health Ministry said 2,393 people have died from coronavirus since the beginning of 2021, with 1,459 succumbing to the disease in January and 934 in February. These numbers represent an average of 40 deaths per day. According to the Health Ministry data, there has been a reduction not only in fatalities during February, but also in the number of severe cases of COVID-19 being treated in the hospital. Many attribute this decline to the aggressive vaccination campaign Israel has undertaken. Please continue to pray for healing for all infected, and for wisdom for Israel's public health leaders as they continually face tough decisions regarding slowing the spread of the virus. Please also pray for strong communication between the government and various sectors in Israeli society. Please pray that the vaccination campaign will continue strong through this coming month, and that in the next few months, the country will reopen to tourists, and Israelis can begin to live our "new normal" in the post-pandemic world. Lastly, please pray for a miraculous and complete stop to the quick spread of the virus.
On March 23rd, Israelis will go back to the polls to elect a new government. This will be Israel's fourth election in two years! Not only is this process very costly for the state, but it also breaks down morale in Israelis as they more and more lose trust in the system of government. One of the most contentious aspects of this current round of elections is that Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is running again as head of the Likud party, is on trial for corruption charges. Many Israelis are angry that not only is he allowed to serve in his current role while on trial, but is also eligible to run in the upcoming elections while on trial. Because Israel is a parliamentary democracy, we have many different political parties. At the moment, there are expected to be at least 13 parties running for seats in the next Knesset. Current polls show Netanyahu's party, Likud, to get the most seats, and that Yesh Atid will come in second. Netanyahu's rival, Gideon Sa'ar, who heads "New Hope" party is projected to be a close third. Please pray for wisdom for Israelis as we vote, also knowing that the situation is in the Lord's hands. Please pray for peaceful elections and that any demonstrations that ensue would not turn violent. Lastly, please pray for a strong voter turnout, and that the peoples' voice will be heard and honored.
Tensions with Iran
Tensions are currently very high with Iran. An Israeli-owned tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman at the end of February, and while Iran has not officially taken credit for it, Israeli officials are sure it was an Iranian attack. Israel reportedly bombed Iranian targets in Syria as a response. This latest strike was the seventh of such strikes in the past two months, as Israel seeks to actively keep Iran from pursuing military supremacy in the region. Iran continues to be defiant regarding its nuclear program, and inches closer to a nuclear bomb while other countries virtually sit back, allowing it to happen. 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!
FOLLOWING ARE SOME MINISTRY REQUESTS FOR HOPE FOR ISRAEL:
Moran & Family
Moran continues to seek wisdom from the Lord about the ever-changing nature of the ministry in these times. As much as he would like to travel to teach, it seems the Lord is keeping him in Israel for the time being. 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 this tough season. Please especially pray for protection over their children's health as they will most likely be returning to the classroom this month.
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.
Our office is open and we are working 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 COVID-19 outbreak in Israel.
Operation Hesed - Passover Edition
Passover is approaching and more families are in need of assistance to put food on the table. We are in the process of raising funds to make this our most effective food assistance yet! Please pray for an abundance of funds for this project so that we can bless as many families as we can. Please also pray that all who receive will, in turn, be encouraged and praise our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
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 hope that as restrictions ease, the youth can begin to meet in person in small groups. We constantly seek His wisdom about this so that our youth and youth leaders are safe! Please pray for protection of the youth from feelings of loneliness and stress due to the pandemic. 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. Please pray for the soldiers' emotional and physical health. 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!
Students are on a much-needed semester break this month! 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.
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 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 a lot of 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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