Tea Cup
By: Corrie van Maanen

More than twenty-eight years ago, the ICEJ launched its Homecare ministry to work among the arriving wave of Russian Jewish immigrants following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has always been something of a hidden work, undertaken with love to fulfil the founding mandate of the Christian Embassy to ‘Comfort, comfort My people!’ (Isaiah 40:1) 

Over the years, the Homecare program has experienced different seasons, including difficult times of intifadas and wars, and a pandemic that caused loneliness and fear for many.  

However, the heart of the work has stayed the same – to visit the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, and single mothers. Sharing their daily lives, seeing their needs, and providing help. Simply coming along-side them in difficult times.   

Recently, the streets of Jerusalem were packed with mostly young people coming from all over Israel to celebrate the city’s re-unification in 1967. They were dancing and waving Israeli flags, despite the ongoing war, and their joy felt like a tangible spirit of hope.   

I found my way through the crowd that day to Tanya’s apartment. Her kitchen is small and rather dark. She made a cup of tea for both of us and was happy to see me because she feels down and unwell. As she shares her heart with me once a week, she receives encouragement from our time together. Apparently unaware of the singing just outside her apartment, she began talking. 

“I never thought that my life in Israel would be so difficult. I never had such troubles in the years I lived in Ukraine. To make Aliyah has been so much different than I expected,” she shared. 

I tried to bring some perspective, saying: “But there you were so much younger. Don’t you think the years make a difference?” 

“No,” she replied. “Here in Israel… with the lengthy, ongoing war, the hostages, there seems to be no light yet at the end of the tunnel; no hope. But most difficult for me is the ‘noise’ the world makes against Israel, the widespread antisemitism.” 

I understood her completely. For all of us here, this war is difficult and in many ways a challenge to maintaining hope and faith. I offered some rays of hope and when the tea was nearly finished, she spoke again. 

“In spite of everything, this is my home. Here is where I belong, and I am thankful to the God of Israel.” 

I stepped out of her house. The sun was warm, the sky a bright blue. All around me I heard singing and dancing in Jerusalem, as the Hebrew prophets had foretold, a reminder of the faithfulness of the God of Israel.   

Late one night, I received a phone call from a caregiver asking me to come to an elderly gentleman’s apartment. He is 98 and blind, and since the war began he has been reliving the nightmare of the Second World War, which he survived as a boy. He was imprisoned in the hellish Pechora concentration camp in Ukraine, inflicting a trauma that has followed him like a shadow his whole life. Whenever I bring him his weekly groceries, we always enjoy a chat. These past months, though, he has been tormented at times, confused and fearful. 

I slipped through the darkness of Jerusalem to his house, and together with the caregiver, we got him to bed. Words were not helping to calm him; the fear is his reality. It was early morning when he finally fell into a deep, restful sleep. 

It felt like a privilege to sit in his room until his breathing deepened and slowed. In a few hours the new day would begin, and with the morning sunrise things would seem different. Together with the caregiver, we always find a way to help him. He was not alone in those dark hours of the night. He knew I was there with him and for now that was enough.   

Homecare has entered a new season of its work. Still, our quiet, hidden outreach to the sick and disadvantaged continues, just this time amid a prolonged war. Please join us in this work as an army of carrying and praying believers who stand in the gap for these precious Jewish people. 

Donate today at: give.icej.org/homecare