To Bring Hope and Healing
A delegation of Christian Evangelicals and Roman Catholics on the Hope and Healing Tour arrived in Israel in December to meet war-related needs. This first group represented ten different countries. And they paved the way for many more who will come and serve in Israel this year.
Since October 7, 2023, Christians have given more than 11 million dollars (around 42 million shekels) to an Emergency Crisis Response fund for war-related needs in Israel. Donations have funded dozens of war relief projects through FIRM and local partners.
Collaborative projects have provided 2,200 ceramic bullet-proof vests and 1,700 helmets for reserve units, tactical gear, and supplies for first responders. A large-scale feeding initiative has distributed 16,000 grocery boxes through 10 hubs nationwide, feeding more than 50,000 displaced people, and provided 60,000 hot kosher meals to soldiers and families.
FIRM has been working with hotels throughout Israel to house and care for displaced families. It meant hosting some 1,500 people, including over 400 children, in seven locations. Projects through FIRM and its network of 73 local partners have empowered local volunteers to serve the frontline needs of their community.
Hundreds of thousands of Evangelical Christians from communities around the world have supported Israel in their war efforts since the beginning of the war.
Christians Showing up to Serve
On December 1, a delegation of 74 Christians from ten countries landed in Israel for a Hope & Healing Serve Tour.
These courageous and compassionate believers arrived in Israel to support communities near the borders, close to the war front. They came to learn about the basic needs and serve affected families and communities, especially in the Gaza envelope as well as kibbutzim in the north.
Members of the FIRM delegation, with participants from ages 15 up to 93, traveled throughout Israel to help support civil communities in various service projects. They met with heads of communities, local government officials, soldiers on the frontline, and families affected by the war.
The group painted schools and homes in Afik and hosted a recreational day for 300 children and families. These families were displaced from the northern communities, currently hosted in Afik and Midreshet HaGolan.
They also packed 1,000 family-size grocery boxes to feed families throughout Israel and fed units of soldiers stationed near the Gaza border.
Remembering Those We Lost
One of the activities that we found most moving was helping to plant a memorial garden in the Golan Heights. Participants planted trees to remember the 1,200 victims of the October 7th massacre.
This garden will have 1,200 trees planted, and we were able to help by planting 400 of them as part of the trip. This special act of love by Christians who chose to be in Israel at this time has captured the attention of people in Israel.
National Serve Day
Another notable initiative that the delegation took part in was the National Serve Day. The Christian visitors were joined by 180 local volunteers, recruited by FIRM and our local partners.
On this special day of service, volunteers helped with cleaning, painting, and light renovations in the communities near the Gaza border. This was done in preparation for the displaced families to return home.
Meanwhile, other groups of volunteers harvested crops, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, and assisted with agricultural projects. Since so many young men in Israel have been called to the reserves, a lot of agricultural businesses lack the manpower to complete their usual tasks.
“We are so grateful that each person decided to come and to sacrifice their day to really serve and love on this community in the south,” Michael Mistretta, the CEO of FIRM, shared.
“We want to continue to serve these communities as they [prepare to move] back here into their homes and rebuild lives. Thank you to those of you who continue to pray for hope and healing here in Israel.”
Who Flies to Israel During a War?
The participants of the Hope and Healing Tour came to Israel from multiple countries but share one heart. As some said, they were motivated by the “sense of the divine”.
“We work with a lot of Christians around the world who love Israel. And many of them want to do more than just give financially and pray from afar,” Mistretta said. “We know that when someone’s hurting, those [closest] show up for you in your time of need.”
The participants of the tour shared that they want to be the “boots on the ground”. They want to be part of the story of Israel as it unfolds. When a guide asked one of the tour buses who feels at home in Israel, pretty much every passenger raised their hand.
“When you experience Israel as a believer, you’re like, yeah, this is home! This is where I desire to be, and I love being here,” Mistretta added, visibly moved by the selfless attitude of the volunteers.
“I know how important it is that we [took] the opportunity to be here, when no one else will come. There’s so much fear,” a participant from the USA shared. “But to come and to say, I stand in faith for you… It’s so important [to say], on behalf of Christians around the world, we love you, we support you, we’re here for you.
“We believe that the miracle-working God will be the miracle-working God in your life and your nation.”
Is There Room for Me on a Hope and Healing Tour?
You may be thinking, come to Israel right now?! That’s crazy! But be encouraged – so many people have already come to serve, to volunteer, and to help in practical ways. Don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity to show love of Jesus to the people of Israel.
Every Hope and Healing Tour is designed to help those affected by the war in tangible, practical ways. The people of Israel need encouragement, but more than that, they long to see faces of those who stand with them.
At the time of publishing of this article, another Hope and Healing Tour organized by FIRM is taking place in Israel. The next Show up and Serve Tour is scheduled for March 2024.
We really believe that when someone you love is hurting, you show up for them. We can’t think of a better way to show up for the people of Israel than being here to serve. Especially at a challenging time like this.
See the official video recap of FIRM’s Hope & Healing Serve Tour HERE.
Register to Show Up and Serve
If you are inspired by what believers are doing on the ground here in Israel, click here for details on our next Hope & Healing Trip coming up in March 2024.
If you are unable to come on a trip, you can still share hope with Israel through prayer and financial support. For details, visit: https://firmisrael.org/hope/
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