Monday March 23, 2020
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Ps 94:19
“Cast ALL your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
These are the kinds of messages being constantly circulated amongst the local Believers within Israel to encourage and remind one another of God’s love and kingship during this time of crisis. This is so important to keep our spirits up as fear tries to find a foothold among our community of faith.
Nevertheless, these messages of hope and encouragement must also be given freely, wherever possible to members of the general public – our neighbors, those that serve us in gas stations, supermarkets and pharmacies. We have been called for such a time as this to be “salt and light” as Yeshua has taught us. The Apostle also instructed us through his second letter to the Corinthians that we are to be, “ambassadors of reconciliation…” that is, we have a vital role to play in the face of this pandemic. “Loving our neighbor” in times like these means being open and free to re-introduce them to a God that loves them.
Little did Maala and I know when we boarded the plane in mid-January for New Zealand that the world would so rapidly enter into such a challenging time. We blissfully thought how wonderful to be able to take some holidays after another big year of ministry coupled with our home building project. Then I (Evan) could settle back into writing with weekends set aside to serve local congregations and be an encouragement to their ministers. Initially all could not have been better – beautiful warm summer weather, walks in the forest, and plenty of fish to share with friends and family members.
Then the dark cloud of Covid-19 began to rapidly cover the globe and governments began to take action as evidence of this deadly virus hit nations like China, Italy and Iran and spread. Borders closed and restrictions on travel, trade, and social gatherings increased daily. Suddenly, the pleasant time out ‘Down Under’ no longer looked so pleasant – particularly when it was announced that our flights back to Israel were all cancelled. We instantly recalled that season 30 years ago when our daughter Sara was born in NZ and Scud missiles were plowing into Tel Aviv and our congregants were huddled in bomb shelters. The sense of being ‘cut off’ from loved ones in times of danger and distress is difficult to describe.
However we are NOT powerless! Daily communication via social media coupled with finding creative ways of conducting virtual prayer meetings helps enormously. God has given us sound minds and we choose not to be given over to fear. Our Lord is mighty to save! As we follow news broadcasts daily we see the patterns of conduct in the public sector and governmental regulations to try and curb the outbreak tightening. What was happening in Israel 10 days ago and shortly thereafter in Europe, is now beginning to take place in Australia and NZ.
This current crisis requires great courage and wisdom on the part of world leaders. They need our prayers as never before. Politics must be set aside and genuine care for citizenry must be paramount, whatever the cost. The same applies to the Body of Messiah. The shepherds must rally the flock. There is no room for ‘grandstanding’ nor passivity. We have good gifts, given by a loving Father – let’s use them for God’s glory and for the benefit of His kingdom.
Remember too that the rain falls both on the righteous and the wicked. So too, will this pandemic effect the lives of all of us, and for some time to come. Remember Paul’s words to the Philippians, “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
We give thanks for Israel and its leaders who have shown tremendous initiative and bravery and acted quickly and judiciously to protect our population of 9 million. In this they have modelled good leadership for others to follow. They have been on the forefront of medical breakthrough to develop an effective vaccine against the virus. May the Lord use this time to bring Israelis and Palestinians to battle the threat together out of mutual interest and set aside animosity, as such times gift us an opportunity to.
Our prayers and concern are with all of you. In Te Reo, the Maori language of Aotearoa, New Zealand, we say “Kia Kaha” Be steadfast, Stand Strong! To Yeshua be the glory, Amen!
Evan and Maala
A few words from Lev and Ora Guler
In his word of encouragement, my dear colleague, Pastor Evan, described the situation in the whole world as a result of the tragedy of the COVID19.
We, I and Ora fully join his words of encouragement. For my part, being directly in Israel in the city of Netanya and taking care of the Beit Asaf community at this difficult time, I want to add a few words about what is happening here. Our government has taken a number of very important steps and decisions and imposed restrictions on closing borders, jobs and the ability to gather in groups of more than 10 people.
Currently, the government runs companies to export Israelis from other countries and quarantine them. So recently, groups of Israelis were exported from Peru, Italy, Spain, and others.
Also, as a local community, we have seriously taken government orders and, as obedient citizens, we are moving to another form of existence as a community. With God’s help and just in time, we managed to purchase and distribute 40 boxes with masks for forty families of the community the day before the restrictions were introduced.
This is me (Lev) and my youngest son.
Due to home isolation, our community changed the way of communication via the network. We try to record the Sermons and laid out for all members of the community.
We see that despite the situation, the level of care of community members for each other and for their elderly neighbors have significantly increased praise God.
There is constant prayer and support for all members of the community. We believe that this tragedy is changing the face of the Beit Asaph community for the better.
We encourage you in your situation in your country in prayer and wish you to strengthen, communicate and restore.
Lev and Ora