By Will King
Our Man In Jerusalem
With the difficult conditions that have beset Israel in the last several years have also come overseas organizations, charities, and supporters who wish to help. Volunteers from almost every country and background imaginable, Jewish and non-Jewish, have descended upon Israel to give their comfort and support to the people. Many volunteers come to Jerusalem, not only for its spiritual significance, but also because Jerusalem is Israel’s largest and poorest city, meaning that the need here is greater than anywhere else.
Ordet og Israel (Bible and Israel) is a Danish movement active both in Denmark and Israel, with the mission to give the Jewish people the Bible’s view on Yeshua as Messiah, and to teach the church in Denmark about the Bible’s view on Israel. In Israel the organization runs a three month Bible school in Tiberias, and volunteers in Jerusalem help at local nursing homes, children’s special needs schools, and other locations in cooperation with the municipality. In Denmark, they actively teach churches on the prophecies and promises to the Jewish people, as well as work to counter the staunch anti-Israel bias in the media.
Jacob, a full-time Jerusalem employee with Ordet og Israel, has spent the majority of his life serving God and helping others. One of five children of Danish missionaries to Africa, Jacob has himself spent some years in Africa, both in agricultural research and as a volunteer for a local church, as well as working for half a year in Australia with a drug rehabilitation program. His first trip to Israel was in 1985 when he and a friend volunteered on a kibbutz. Now in his 15th time to Israel, Jacob is here long term to help the Israeli people both spiritually and structurally.
Ordet og Israel has been blessed and is expanding in Israel, and for the past year and a half Jacob has co-lead an outreach called Yad va Lev (Hand and Heart). Based in Jerusalem, Yad va Lev helps some of the city’s poorest residents with practical help in the home, such as painting, yard work, and small repairs. Jerusalem has also been a favorite target for terrorists, which adds an additional stress to the already poor financial situation that many residents face. Jacob explains, “Our aim is through the work we do in their home to upgrade their living conditions, give them hope, and be a witness of our Lord and Savior.” While the goal of the organization is to continuously reach out to the needy using the Gospel together with practical help, one is not dependent upon the other.
Since its beginning last year, Yad va Lev has already helped repair the hearts and homes for more than 50 needy families and individuals, as well as helping to fix up a family counseling center in Jerusalem. The volunteers, all Danish, spend on average a week per project, which are financed primarily through donations from Believers in Denmark.
So far, the Yad va Lev team has been very well received by those they’ve helped. “We have been thanked, blessed, and kissed after completing the renovations,” Jacob says. “Some of our clients have invited us to come and have coffee or food, and some have even joined us to a church service.” For the Yad va Lev volunteers, it’s not just about repairing homes, but also about building relationships with Jerusalem’s Jewish residents based on Messiah Jesus. Jacob explains, “…our wish for these people that we are helping is to bring them the hope and good news of our — and their — Messiah, Yeshua.” In the end, if they don’t accept the message of Messiah, they at least see and know firsthand that there are Christians who truly love Israel and the Jewish people enough to come to Israel and work in their homes.
Although a relatively new program, Yad va Lev is presently facing few challenges to its operation. Unlike what has happened with some workers or volunteers with other Christian institutions, Jacob says that so far they have been able to obtain the necessary visas on time. As for Ordet og Israel, their greatest problem is due to their success and growth, and they are currently seeking a larger facility for their Bible school in Tiberias.
More information on Ordet og Israel can be obtained on their website at www.ordetogisrael.dk.