Bridges for Peace is a ministry of hope and reconciliation. Through programs both in Israel and worldwide, they give Christians the opportunity to actively express our biblical responsibility before God to be faithful to Israel and the Jewish community. Since 1976, they have been committed to encourage meaningful relationships between Christians and Jews while helping Christians identify with the biblical/Hebraic foundations of our faith. with this partnership, we hope to bless Israel and the Jewish people, through practical assistance, volunteer service and prayer.
Interview with Daniel, Deputy of International Projects for Bridges for Peace:
How long have you been working and living in Israel? What prompted you to make that move?
I've been serving with Bridges for Peace since 2003 but I am originally from Florida. I came on a family tour to Israel and visited the Bridges for Peace Food Bank in Jerusalem to learn about the ministry. I had already decided I wanted to volunteer long term somewhere and had a mental checklist of the kind of ministry I would like to partner with. As the staff at the Food Bank were explaining the ways they were able to bless the people of Israel, I was blown away. I made the decision that day to sign up. The last 15 years have been a true blessing in my life.
What can you tell us about the work Bridges for Peace does in Israel?
We are celebrating the 70th year since Israel became a nation. Around the world Christians and Jews are praising God for Israel but in the midst of the celebrations, there are many in Israel burdened with needs. Holocaust survivors, immigrants, children from broken homes, lone soldiers (here without family support), elderly and mourners all have something in common. They need our loving care. Operation Ezra is a social assistance program providing practical help (through our Food Bank and other avenues) to Jewish immigrants to Israel, Israel's elderly and the poor from many communities. Project Rescue helps Jews wanting to immigrate to Israel who would not be able to do so without our help. We send “fishermen” who search for those who long to come home to Israel but cannot without support. Thus far, we have helped over 50,000 Jews make the pilgrimage home. Through our Feed a Child program, thousands of Israeli school children who live below the poverty line and cannot afford to buy lunch are provided a hot lunch at school, gifts on their birthday and holidays, help to purchase school books, a backpack filled with supplies, and funds for special needs during the summer. We also offer Medical and Dental Aid as Israeli health insurance does not cover dental, 100% of the cost of prescription medications, nor medical apparatuses such as wheelchairs. We also have our Bible Study Tours which give a variety of opportunities to help Christians gain a deeper understanding of Israel, the Jewish people and the Jewish roots of our faith in light of the Bible, history, archaeology, and current events.
Often times, people question why building bridges between Christians and Jews is necessary; their understanding is that our relationships there are good. Can you speak to that?
As a Christian, I have been humbled to learn about the painful history of the Jewish people and how the Christian world in the past has looked at them in a negative light, (even, at times, perpetrating acts of cruelty or oppression, discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people). The history is long and has caused a huge rift between our two communities. Did you know that to many in the Jewish community, the Holocaust is viewed as a Christian event against the Jewish people? We cannot re-write history but we can build bridges into the future. I have had the privilege of bringing food to Holocaust survivors. Many times, this encounter is the first positive experience these people have had with Christians. We go into homes of needy families with a Home Repair team and do much needed repair work. These Jewish families are so surprised that Christians would do such a job just to bless them and for free too!
Can you share some of the positive impact you’ve been able to see in your community as a result of partnering with service teams?
I have seen, first-hand, the positive impact service groups have had in the community and how the people here really need that kind of support, When the Jewish people begin to understand that they have real friends around the world praying for them and loving them... that we believe what the Bible says about them is coming to pass in our lifetime and that we just want to be a part of it; that message makes the Jewish people here light up and renews their sense of purpose and worth. Seeing the smile spread across the face of an elderly person who comes to understand our heart to serve her... there is no feeling like it, Our God is a God of love. We share that love with the Jewish people when we go and tell them "yes, we love you and we care", and then we show it with acts of service and compassion.
When teams leave Israel, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
I hope that people leave Israel with new revelation of the Bible and a strong connection with the people of the Bible. My prayer is that their faith grows stronger as a result of being here in the land where most of our faith foundation was laid.
About the Faith Journeys Serve Trip:
This October 4-14, after participating in an intensive training in discipleship, a team of volunteers will leave from Atlanta to serve in Jerusalem. This is not an evangelistic trip but an opportunity to partner with and serve our Jewish brothers and sisters through Bridges for Peace ministries. In addition to volunteering, we will have the opportunity to visit over 50 holy sites and be led in devotions to help bring the Bible to life in a new way. Deadline to apply is June 27th and we can only accept 10 volunteers this time. This is a family friendly trip and there is still time to join us! Applications due June 27 and you can reserve your spot with a $300 deposit. Want to find out what we'll be doing? Click here.