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
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!