ICEJ helping feed thousands of uprooted Israeli familiesPublished on: 30.11.2023
By Nativia Samuelsen
Israel’s current war with Hamas started suddenly on October 7, one day after our Feast of Tabernacles ended, requiring the ICEJ staff in Jerusalem to quickly pivot into crisis mode to act as a lifeline for scores of families severely impacted by the conflict. With over 250,000 Israelis now displaced by the fighting along the Gaza and Lebanon borders, there has been a drastic rise in the demand for basic needs.
In response, the Christian Embassy has been there on the frontlines on your behalf. Sometimes this involves donating larger items like ambulances and bomb shelters, while other times it means giving of ourselves to pack food for families in need or to pick fruit late for harvest.
For instance, ICEJ staff have been volunteering several days each week at a major food distribution center, and so far we have packed nearly 15,000 food boxes that were delivered to families in the Gaza border area, other families evacuated from the North and South, and those serving the country. We also have assembled and handed out almost 5,000 hygiene kits to evacuated families and soldiers.
The packing floor is always abuzz with activity and conversations, which readily start up between our Christian staff from many countries and Israeli volunteers from local businesses. Due to these friendly chats on the assembly line, it just seems easier to pack the oil, coffee, tea, lentils, rice, flour, sugar, tuna, chicken soup powder, pasta, pickles, olives, and corn into boxes and wrap them for delivery.
“It’s so important to volunteer to support the families in desperate need of food and supplies so that they can focus on rehabilitation and healing from trauma,” said Barak, an Israeli volunteer. “My family and friends are in the war, and to be here with Christians and Jews united to support those that have been affected blows me away. I am so grateful to be part of this work. Thank you.”
“To volunteer in a time of such national difficulty and suffering, we need to support our economy and people,” added Carolina, also from Israel. “Volunteering brings a sense of unity. Doing this together and putting all our effort and energy together helps us boost the morale of the people… We are so happy to see the ICEJ staff here every day. It warms our hearts.”
“I just can’t believe that you Christians are still here,” exclaimed Sussie. “You all have the possibility to leave! You are what we call ‘good Christians.’ Thank you for all your love and support.”
“It is a privilege to be involved in reaching out to the Jewish communities affected by the war,” responded Anna from the ICEJ staff. “Although it seems small to be packing boxes, its impact is immeasurable for these families.”
“During this time of war, there is a courage and boldness… that I have never seen before,” explained Fine of the Embassy staff. “In just five hours of packing food boxes, the connections we make with the Jewish people have such an impact. They see that they are not alone and that Christians from the ends of the earth, like my nation of Fiji, are standing with Israel.”
From my own experience conversing with the Jewish volunteers, I sense a deep heart cry. They all tell me about their sons and daughters, their spouses and friends, fighting in this war. They tell me how they struggle to sleep and how they have no words to describe how they feel. I also have seen a level of resilience and unity arise in this nation, and how through projects like these the ICEJ is undoubtedly a lighthouse in dark times.
In addition to contributing ‘muscle’ to pack the boxes, the ICEJ also immediately responded to an urgent need by leasing a semi-trailer truck to transport the thousands of food packages to evacuated families in southern cities, such as Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva. As a result, essential aid has made its way to over 33,000 struggling uprooted families.
We are encouraged to see the people of Israel from all parts of society join as one in the war effort. We see retired couples donating clothes and toiletries. Sometimes, we see youngsters volunteering side-by-side with CEOs to pack food or sort donated items. This national emergency has created a renewed sense of unity that inspires hope and perseverance.
By supporting our ‘Israel in Crisis’ fund, you can impact this battered nation, be a voice against growing antisemitism, and encourage many Israelis in this difficult hour. Join the ICEJ in standing with Israel by continuing to give to our urgent war relief efforts. Donate today at: give.icej.org/crisis