Respite from the Front Lines

Respite from the Front Lines

Unfortunately, we’ve heard far too much recently about rockets and war in Gaza - soldiers, terrorists and fighting have filled our minds, our TVs and our computer screens. Israel continues to find itself on the frontline of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to simple peace and security, and the tragic consequences being felt in Gaza are real and are deeply grieving. However, there exists another critical frontline battle in the Epicenter that doesn’t garner any international attention - the ongoing Gospel ministry among the Jewish and Arab believers in Jesus who live in Israel - as well as Arab followers in the West Bank - these brothers and sisters remain foremost in our hearts and minds. Many wonderful congregations led by Jewish and Arab pastors have also been consistently enduring the rigors of battle. Of course, they don’t “wrestle against flesh and blood”; theirs isn’t a physical battle between people of different backgrounds. They contend for something far more important: victory in the age-old spiritual battle “against the forces of evil in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

These many Joshua Fund partners in Israel and the West Bank know that the true answer for peace in the Middle East is never to be found through political means, shuttle diplomacy or in temporary ceasefires. They recognize that the true source of peace for their Jewish and Arab neighbors only comes through knowing the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, in a real and personal way – this joyful Gospel truth is the primary weapon of their warfare. God is the One who has broken down the middle wall of division between people groups, and has reconciled us to one another in the person of Jesus through the cross of Calvary. These pastors tirelessly “fight this good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) on a daily basis – knowing Him and making Him known throughout the land of Israel and in the West Bank.

We know that with much conflict can also come weariness and exhaustion – so for the last six years The Lord has given us the privilege to provide these faithful Jewish and Arab shepherds serving the Lord in Israel an opportunity for a reprieve from the battle. (We provide other opportunities for the men laboring for Jesus in the West Bank).

Again this year The Joshua Fund hosted more than 25 of these shepherds and ministry workers for a time to ‘come away’ to a lovely, secluded spot. During this five-day retreat, we give them time to relax, and center our gathering around sharing the Word of God together.

Over the years this has proven to be an incredibly fruitful time of refreshment and encouragement for these dear brothers. Together we’re blessed to spend time walking through the Word of God as a group - hearing each man’s heart, as well as enjoying quality times of fellowship and meaningful prayer for one another’s needs. The men consistently have departed for home from this sanctuary feeling refreshed and rejuvenated – ready once again for the work of the ministry back in the Land.

Here are a few of their unsolicited comments following this years’ time together.

“The blessing that we encountered is hard to put in words. Personally I left so encouraged, challenged, and inspired by the study of James but also strengthened from the candid and deep sharing of everyone present.”

“Personally, I was deeply moved and encouraged by the retreat, far beyond what I thought or imagined. It was genuinely a life-changing experience and made me realize how much we need to do things like this. The Book of James has found a special place in my heart, and I can’t help but draw from its wisdom on a daily basis. A special thanks to The Joshua Fund.”

“I thank God for each and every one of you and for the opportunity to be together as one body and learn together from the Word of God. I was touched by how we learned the Word together and from each other sharing our hearts and weaknesses in openness and transparency which built the trust more between us all from different backgrounds.”

The Joshua Fund team finds it hard to fully express just how grateful we are to you, our donors and prayer warriors - for providing a time for these Jewish and Arab pastors and leaders in Israel to experience this kind of meaningful encouragement, fellowship and refreshment. Through your prayer and support, these men are being equipped and girded up for the battle so that they “do not grow weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9) and keep fighting the good fight of faith in the land of Israel.

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