Israel is opening up more and more each week! After being in lockdown for more days than any other country, we are all very happy to be establishing a new "normal". We are cautiously optimistic, however, because we know that COVID is still with us. The tourism sector is still closed, which continues to push businesses that rely on tourists even further into financial dire straits. Israel announced that it will allow groups to return at the end of May, but with severe restrictions. We are all waiting to see if this will be a successful reopening or not. Israel still does not have a functioning government, which further complicates the reopening of the tourism sector. PM Netanyahu's mandate to form a government expires May 4th, at which time President Rivlin may task another candidate to form a government, or else Israel will head to 5th elections in two years. Not only would this be a serious blow to Israel's economy (elections are expensive!), but also to Israel's already shaky democracy.
PLEASE JOIN US IN INTERCEDING ON BEHALF OF ISRAEL FOR:
Shavuot comes 50 days after Passover, and it is traditionally a time when we celebrate God giving the Torah to Moses at Sinai. Believers in Messiah also celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts during Shavuot, which many refer to as "Pentecost". In Israel, we usually celebrate with dairy-laden feasts, such as cheese blintzes, cheesecakes, quiches, and other cheese-filled dishes. We also celebrate the harvest, especially on Israel's communal agricultural communities, "kibbutzim". This is the last major holiday on the Jewish calendar until Rosh Hashanah in September. Please pray for peaceful and quiet celebrations, without any terror attacks. Please also pray for supernatural revelation of Yeshua during this season, and that many in Israel will come to know their Messiah!
Tensions Running High
Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, has seen a sharp increase in tensions between Arabs and Jews, especially in Jerusalem. Extremists from both people groups are adding fuel to a very hot fire, and violence has erupted multiple times over the past few weeks. Hamas recently sent a barrage of rockets into southern Israel, apparently to "revenge" the restrictions Israel has placed on Muslims' access to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Please pray for tensions to quiet down, especially for the remainder of Ramadan. Please also pray that the Lord would give opportunity to foster understanding and peace between Jew and Arab, alike. Lastly, please pray for wisdom for Israeli and Palestinian leadership as they attempt to navigate through this crisis.
PM Netanyahu was tasked to form a new government, but his prospects for success are dim. With his mandate expiring in early May, it is hard to know what will happen next. Current analyses show a high probability that President Rivlin will give Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid party) the mandate to form a government. There is a strong possibility that Lapid will succeed in forming a government, but nothing is promised in these turbulent times. Please pray that we will get a clear direction for a new government within the next few weeks. 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
To date, Israel has fully vaccinated 80% of its adult population. Currently, youth under the age of 16 are not eligible to receive the vaccine. Israeli health officials have said that once the FDA approves vaccination for this age group, so will Israel. There have been "hotspots" of infection in younger children recently, but for the most part, Israel's daily infection rate is plummeting dramatically. COVID ICU wards in many hospitals have closed down, and the economy is almost fully open, with the exception of tourism. Variants of the virus have been detected in Israelis returning home from abroad, which is cause for some concern. Israel just announced that Israelis returning from certain countries will be required to quarantine even if they are vaccinated. 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 challenging times.
Tensions with Iran, Lebanon, Syria, & Gaza
Tensions with Iran continue to rise. Iranian proxies operating in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza have been provoking responses from the Israeli military over the past few weeks. Multiple drones have been downed in Israeli territory, and Syria shot a rocket that traveled over 300 kilometers and landed in southern Israel. Israel has responded to every provocation with military force, but it seems to be a game of cat & mouse that does not end. Hamas has also been provoking Israel with indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli territory, shattering months of quiet. 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. Israel is opening up more and more, which means the ministry's in-person activities can also begin to resume. 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
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 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
We are grateful that Israel is easing restrictions on in-person meetings! We had our first weekly in-person meeting the last week of April, which was limited to twenty youth. We met in two separate groups in order to accommodate the number of youth while still adhering to Israel's guidelines. Most of the youth are back in school five days a week, and it's been wonderful for them to be with friends. Please continue to pray for protection of the youth from stress due to the pandemic. Please pray that the youth will be hungry for God's word, and continue to participate in meetings and ask questions. 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. One lone soldier in our group has been called home abroad to help with some family health challenges, so please pray for strength and refreshment for her. Please also continue to pray for the soldiers' emotional and physical health, and for those newly released, for wisdom for their next steps. Pray that they will seek excellence in their service and be a strong witness of Yeshua to their peers, not just in word, but mostly in deed. Please also pray for more young adult volunteers to join in the coming year. 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
The second semester of the academic year is in full swing and this tends to be more challenging for students. 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 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 manages the staff who work with the students. Please pray for her as she begins to plan next year's activities already, that the workshops and meetings will be helpful and a blessing to the students. Lastly, 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 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. Please specifically pray that the government will soon declare a reasonable and official re-opening timeline for tourism. The lack of tourism has negatively affected the economy, and we are looking forward to welcoming our visitors!
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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