No country has faced so much adversity as Israel. When destruction and difficult circumstances rage all around, Israelis unite around the "eye of the storm" - and almost unanimously begin to act as one and call out to God for mercy. Israel blossoms in crisis.

We were two months into the official rainy season, and there was no rain in sight - dry, ironically temperate weather: perfect for picnics, hiking and drying clothes on the clothesline. It was the kind of weather that is the envy of summer-starved Europeans and Scandinavians, but we were thirsty for rain.

As each rainless week passed, the land grew thirstier; trees became parched for lack of water, and the crackling of the dry ground was almost audible. We waited for rain, knowing intuitively that crisis loomed. Then it erupted. A regular Thursday, just like the month of Thursdays before it, yet on this day, one small spark flew and the forest exploded in an angry rage of flames. As the fire spread, a billow of pinkish smoke rose above Elijah's mountain range. This time, not God's answer of fire, but a relentless epidemic of wind and fire that continued for over a week, ravaging the Carmel forest, destroying homes and spreading charcoal black over the landscape that was formerly painted with pine and olive green. Holding our breath, we watched the news and the horizon waiting for a miracle. It was Hanukkah; equated with the miracle of sustaining fire in face of depleting oil. On that first Hanukkah, Adonai miraculously made the fire burn, this time we needed the fire to cease.

When I made aliyah some 20 years ago, my new home in Israel was Bet Oren, a small kibbutz deep in the Carmel mountain range. Bet Oren sits perched on a hilltop, up a windy road lined with cliffs and sprawling pine forests. At first I was disappointed at being so far from Haifa's city center, but I grew to love the timeless untamable beauty of the forest. It was on that same windy road that a bus of prison guards and fire fighters, on their way to offer assistance, were engulfed in flames. Forty-four precious lives were lost, leaving only three to tell the tale of disaster and heroism.

For some time, Tents of Mercy has made efforts to be prepared for emergencies. Joseph has been our example. He wisely stocked up in good times in order to have provisions on hand in times of trouble. When the fire broke out we began to assess areas where we could help the fire victims, many who had lost their homes and belongings. We were very excited at the opportunity to give out from our stock to those in need. We made a couple of trips into the fire zone and brought basic goods to help with the initial recovery.

As we continue broadening our help, we are reminded of the times we are in. The prophets foretold that things would get worse before they get better. More difficult times are surely drawing near. This experience served us as an exercise to be prayerfully prepared! Humanitarian aid is a physical intercession between need and those in need. Our humanitarian aid front is a prophetic stand, vested with the authority of God-Almighty to intercede on behalf of our people in preparation for the future tribulations about to unfold on the prophetic timeline. May God give us wisdom and sustain us!

By Avi Tekle

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: Accommodating Evangelicals
Eitan Shishkoff: Sweet Fifteen
Daniel Juster: An Unparalleled Opportunity
Asher Intrater: Rabbinic Judaism - lessons from the Book of Acts