The Middle East is filled with refugees right now who are seeking safety, and the church is providing places for those who have lost their homes to heal and rest.
Like ministries all over the world, World Challenge’s partners in Israel were very much affected by the pandemic. One team who works with refugees in Northern Israel had over 30 women and children in their shelter on lockdown, and it was very challenging to minister to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Since school could not be held as usual, the team used online platforms to broadcast the good news of the Messiah as well as an understanding of Israel in God's heart.
The team’s center proved to be an excellent location for recording worship and bringing together musicians from different parts of the country. The video studio is used to record teachings, give gospel presentations to children, send messages from our ministry to the nations and training young Israelis in media.
If the challenges of lockdowns weren’t enough, though, Israel’s current Ministry of Interior is primarily run by orthodox Jews, and they have mixed feelings about whether Messianic Jews should have the right to share their faith with others. This is one of the reasons we do not share our Israeli partners’ names.
Escape and Finding Shelter
The shelter continuing to be open during the pandemic was vital for many refugees, especially those escaping violence both outside and inside the home.
An Ethiopian Israeli man brought his wife named Mulu to Israel. She was not allowed to leave the house and was even chained up at times to ensure that she couldn’t get away. She was basically kept as a slave in their home.
At last, Mulu saw her chance to escape from her husband, and she seized it. She had met someone who had a relative nearby, and that was all she needed. She fled to their house and begged that they give her shelter just for a little while. By this time, however, she knew she was pregnant. She had more than one life to think about and protect now.
She stayed hidden from her husband long enough to give birth to her daughter, whom she named Risde.
At the hospital, a social worker heard her story and went into action to prevent Mulu from being taken back to her husband’s house or returning out of desperation. She contacted World Challenge’s partners and asked if Mulu and Risde could stay in their shelter.
All throughout the pandemic and lockdown, no one saw or heard anything of the terribly abusive husband. It seemed that Mulu and Risde were safe, and they could embark on the long journey of healing.
Fighting for the Overlooked
The shelter was fortunate enough to have volunteers who spoke Mulu’s native language of Amharic, and they spent time walking with her through the PTSD from her traumatic marriage. They prayed often with her in her distress. They counseled her with practical advise on how to recover healthy rhythms of life. When it became clear that Mulu had a health issue that would require surgery, the team helped her get the procedure she needed.
Mulu has acknowledged Jesus as her Lord, and she is making her journey of discipleship. She recently shared one of the scriptures that is particularly meaningful for her: “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3, NIV).
The team shared, “Another result of Mulu being with us is the wonderful testimony our faith has been to the not-yet-believing Jewish Ethiopians in her family. One distant relative who is a policeman came to visit and has expressed such deep gratitude to our ministry.”
Now little Risde is one and a half, and this sweet girl is a precious blessing to many people who have met her. Together, the team is praying for Mulu and Risde and whatever plans God has in their future.