Emergency funds from Foursquare are helping bring relief to some of those caught in the latest fighting in Israel. This week, a $5,000 grant from Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) has gone to Christians in the country who have assisted in relocating families and individuals endangered by the rocket attacks launched in the Gaza Strip clashes. The outreach team also hopes to be able to offer assistance to people they know affected on the other side of the conflict.
Single-parent families and 20 Holocaust survivors are among those who have been temporarily evacuated from their homes to a part of the country less threatened by the rocket launches. The funds are also being used to provide essentials for some of those left without any money because work at factories in the worst potential strike zones has been suspended.
Distribution of the FDR grant has been coordinated by Sam Johnson, Foursquare Missions International’s area missionary to the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. The gift provides an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus in a practical way to a population largely resistant to the gospel, he says.
"Both Jews and Arabs have suffered greatly, historically, at the hands of people who were doing things in the name of Jesus—from the Crusades to the Inquisition," Sam says. "Now we can show that as believers we want to bless people and show His compassion."
Sam's message was echoed by one of those dispersing the funds in Israel, part of a small congregation there.
"Whenever I participate in acts of kindness where we distribute food coupons, or other acts of kindness, I like to emphasize that this was provided for by Christians in America who love Israel," the person explains.
“It's not just about two groups, Jews and Palestinians; it's individuals you know by name."
–Sam Johnson, Foursquare Missions International area missionary
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, he adds. "The Israelis here that we have given help to are really grateful, and also a bit surprised sometimes to learn that there are Christians in America that really love them and want to help them. It helps break down the stereotype of Christians being anti-Semitic."
Thanking Foursquare supporters for the financial support, the Christian leader in Israel appeals for prayer "for opportunities for us to use this generous donation toward relief to help us break down barriers and develop new relationships. We are really desirous of working long term with the people here to do community development. This goes beyond relief and bears fruit for the kingdom."
As part of its ministry in Israel, the group has helped needy single-parent families. Among those who have been assisted is a mother of two children being supported in making and selling scarves to support her family.
"Part of community development work is to spend time with people just like this,” shares the leader. It is also “through teaching sound biblical values, to show them the 'more excellent way,' which also involves biblical values, such as personal responsibility, a solid work ethic, budgeting and managing household finances," he says, "all the while introducing them to the Lord."
Sam also urges Foursquare members to pray for the workers in Israel, as well as those they are reaching out to. Having spent a considerable amount of time in Israel during his years of ministry, he says: "My heart goes out to all the individuals affected. It's easy to get lost in the political context. But when you know people there, it's not just about two groups, Jews and Palestinians; it's individuals you know by name."
Sam asks for prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), and for the rest of the Middle East. Only the gospel can end the cycle of violence that will otherwise be repeated, with a period of peace followed by more fighting, he says.
Another of the Christian workers in Israel says people there are "terribly concerned and sick at heart for the loss of life on both sides, for the trauma and grief. Nearly everyone in the country has loved ones and friends directly affected."
He tells of praying regularly over Jerusalem, reading Bible passages "declaring God's plans and purposes for this place and the nations. I do it with a sense of privilege and responsibility, a sense of representing our family of churches, as a personal extension of them here."
Undesignated giving to FDR—formed last year by the merger of Foursquare Relief and Compassion and the disaster relief arm of Foursquare Chaplains International—enables the ministry to make emergency grants to crisis situations such as that in Israel.
Visit Foursquare Disaster Relief’s Give page for more information about donating funds to “The Most Need” for unexpected crises.