Written by: Jankemi Loots
Article source: JOY! Magazine

Israel is a small country at the centre of a vast region that simmers with tension, much of it directed at her. I am thankful to God and consider it a massive privilege that I was born for such a time as this, to stand with Israel in a practical way for 11 months.

Playing a practical role
Jeremiah 16 and Ezekiel 36 speak of God regathering the people, restoring the relationship with His people, and rebuilding the nation of Israel where Jews and gentiles will come together to worship Him. Meditating on these prophecies as I handed gifts to Jewish families fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, I realised at that moment that I had become a practical part of the prophecy being fulfilled.

A new start in the Holy Land
COVID started a season of pruning in my life which afterwards prompted me to desperately ask God for drastic change in my life. “Please, give me something, anything new!” Not long after, an advert popped up on my screen from Facebook. “Zealous for Israel! An 11-month discipleship programme in Israel.” The Zealous Israel Project for young adults is a Jerusalem-based initiative of Bridges for Peace. After scanning the content, my initial thought was “Really, God? Israel again?” I visited Israel in 2015. Surprised how God was nudging my heart over the advert, I took the initiative and contacted Bridges for Peace. After learning the requirements for this 11-month programme, I was convinced, humanly speaking, that there was no way. But God! (Matt 19:26)

Handing over my life to God
“Okay! Alright, Abba (meaning Father in Hebrew). The least I can do is give it a chance?” Holding onto a mustard seed of faith, I took one step of boldness. On wings of eagles, He carried me through each step. Someone told me once that your journey to Israel is not as easy as the thought “I can go”. No, it is only by invitation, from God, that we make it to His country. That is what my journey of preparation felt like. The six months of preparation taught me to let go of the wheel controlling my life and hand it over to God.

Falling in love with Israel
When my wobbly feet walked the halls of Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv) I could not believe I was there. Eight young volunteers joined me in the programme and together we stepped out into the new, expecting God to minister to us individually as we served and learnt more of Him. In the first month of living in Jerusalem, something happened. I fell head over heels in love with Israel!

Serving the body of Christ
Serving the Jewish community, assisting projects for immigrants, and delivering food to the elderly (Holocaust survivors) revived my heart. I fell in love with the mission of Bridges for Peace that is committed to restoring relationships between Christians and Jews. Wrapped in the unconditional love of God, we still maintained every Christian value. The life of a volunteer comes at a price: saying goodbye to home and loved ones and remaining dependent on God for your safety and finances. I needed to muster a new level of trust in Him, offering Him the space to work in me.

Lessons learnt
Volunteering taught me a few things. I cannot do anything without God. I had to allow Him to mould me. He has shown me that my capacity to love is higher than I thought. My ability to serve others increased because His heart was pouring into mine, and living in Israel has not only expanded my faith but taught me how to apply it in my life. Within a community of believers, including our Zealous Israel Project team, unified in the desire to serve and walk out their faith with God, we watched as our lives changed over 11 months. We were shooting our roots into the soil of Israel while He pressed the oil of His Spirit into us. This oil is forever stored within us to preserve the fire manifesting His light.

Feeling alive
Never have I felt so alive in my life, stepping into the shoes of those of the first Church by becoming part of a life dependent on God and community. It brought closeness to my relationship with the Lord and made me realise I wanted nothing else. I want to stand with Israel and with the Jewish people for whom our God yearns after with great zeal. My prayer is for that same zeal to captivate my life as I feverishly seek to know the God of Israel and continue to serve in the promised land.

All it required was faith
God uses the small, so take courage! My faith was no match for the greatness of this journey. All it cost was a mustard seed of faith with one step of courage. With that, my life changed entirely. God knew what He was doing when He opened the door to Israel for me. When I returned home to South Africa, I was inspired to encourage young people in their walk with the Lord. Take action! The time is now to test your faith. Go ahead and take that bold step. With everything He has done for me, could you imagine what He would do for you?

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Date published: 07/11/2023

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