Feed Tel Aviv Holocaust Survivors Holiday Outreach
Feed Tel Aviv Holocaust Survivors Holiday Outreach
At our Feed Tel Aviv outreach center in south Tel Aviv, our doors are open to all. We routinely serve people from all walks of life: Arabs, Jews, African migrants. For those who aren’t familiar, observant Jews and Muslims have careful dietary restrictions. Muslim dietary laws restrict pork, alcohol and inhumane slaughter practices. For observant Jews, the requirements are much more strict, and those who keep kosher are very careful about where they eat. The observant Jews and Muslims who come to our outreach center know us well and the fact that we keep a kosher kitchen, for both Jewish and Muslim requirements, even thought we may not have a kosher “certificate” from the rabbinate—they would never give us one anyway because of our faith in Yeshua!
For me, it is beautiful to see Muslims, observant Jews and refugees from the nations sitting together at the same table, receiving food, hospitality and the love of God from us. In the Middle East, hospitality is an essential part of our culture, both for Arabs and Jews, and God has called us to offer His hospitality to the neediest of the needy in our city. Often when I look at the table at the outreach center and see society’s outcasts from all different backgrounds gathered together there, I am reminded how the Messiah shared a table with society’s “undesirables” and was sharply criticized by the religious authorities for it:
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
A little love goes a long way
Here are just a couple stories of many people who have shared our table and whose lives have been touched by this outreach:
Haled is an Arab man from a Muslim village in Samaria who ran away from his village years ago and eventually landed on the streets of Tel Aviv. A few years ago, we witnessed to Haled, and he ended up praying with us to receive the Yeshua as Lord. Haled makes his living by collecting glass and plastic bottles for recycling, and, according to him, our outreach saves him from going hungry. Whenever Haled comes to the outreach for a hot meal, he brings a bag with him so we can send a couple more portions with him which help him get through the week. Haled also comes to the outreach center to discuss his faith and to get more discipleship and prayer.
Sasha, a man in his thirties, ended up on the streets just recently. He told us, like many others we have met, that with the increase in food prices and a sudden rise in his rent, he was unable to make ends meet and pay his bills. When Sasha first came to us, he was so happy to get food and clothes from us. He told us that we are doing a great “mitzva” (good deed) and said that he prayed “the Holy One blessed be He” would bless us. Because he has so little money and is trying to cut back wherever he can, Sasha said that he has lost more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) since he’s been on the streets.
I shared with Sasha about our outreach and what we believe. He was deeply moved by what I shared with him, and he asked me to pass on his thanks to all who support this ministry. Sasha shared that recently he had been in a dark place and was deeply depressed, but meeting us gave him hope that there is still light in the world.
We want to thank all of you who support this outreach! You are with us out there touching the lives of these precious people with the love of God!
Over the summer we met some people from abroad who had come to Israel for the purpose of ministering to Israelis. I suggested that they join us for our weekly outreach to the homeless in south Tel Aviv. Their response to my invitation surprised me. They said that they used to minister to homeless drug addicts in their home country, but they found that there is very little “fruit” with that population. What it felt like I was hearing was: it’s not worth the time to serve the neediest of the needy because you don’t come away with many success stories.
Numbers-focused ministry can get our hearts off focus
Those of us who work in ministry know that raising funds for what we are doing can be a challenge, and it is easy to fall into a place where we begin to focus on what looks impressive, measuring the worth of what we are doing by the number of success stories. That is something that we all struggle with. There are also outreach and discipleship movements models that are highly focused on numbers and multiplication: while all efforts to share the gospel and disciple new believers are holy work, we all need to be reminded how important it is to keep our hearts focused on the Lord and the people we serve.
Never Giving up Hope
There is truth in what the people from abroad said about ministry to the homeless: it is not often that you see those who are willing to make the commitment to enter a drug rehabilitation program after being a long time on the streets. There are many reasons why this is so. This kind of service can also be very difficult and challenging emotionally, and sometimes you can become discouraged and drained. But, God in His grace always sends us encouragement and reminders when we need it!
The truth is that each time we are on the streets ministering with food, first aid and the love of Yeshua, there are always those who agree to have us pray for them. Some even pray and ask Yeshua into their hearts. Even if those people don’t end up getting off the streets, we know that we have sown seeds of God’s love and truth in the darkest places.
Each person is the whole world
We have a saying in Hebrew that says each person is the world entire. It basically means that saving one person is like saving the whole world. This last month we met a young woman in her twenties who is coming to the area to buy drugs. She is new to the streets and is living out of her car. Over the last several weeks, we have had many deep conversations with her; one of our regular lady volunteers made a special connection with her. In our conversations with her we shared about the hope in Yeshua and about getting into a drug rehabilitation program.
Last week this young woman arrived an hour before we start serving, while we were still setting up and preparing the food. The volunteer who has a good connection with her sat for over an hour with her, talking and praying. Afterwards she even joined us in preparing and serving the food. Two days ago, this young woman entered a Messianic drug rehabilitation program.
Saving just one person from the street is great fruit indeed!
I personally want to thank all of you who support this ministry and enable us to serve this marginalized and even despised population here in Israel. For us it is reason to rejoice when even just one person’s life is saved from the streets. Yeshua calls us to leave the ninety-nine for the one, and to rejoice when that one who is rescued. We hope that you celebrate with us over each precious person who is saved!
by Moti Cohen
At our congregation, we see first-hand how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers. The story of Maya, a woman who went through discipleship with us over the summer, encapsulates how essential it is. During covid, Maya found us online and joined our online services. Over fifteen years earlier, she had come to faith after Christian friends from Europe had witnessed to her. However, she never got connected with other believers here in Israel and, as a result, never grew in her faith. Eventually, Maya returned to her life in the world.
When we finally resumed in-person services at Tiferet Yeshua in January of 2022, Maya began attending regularly. After hearing her story, we invited her to bible study meetings during the week, which she attended regularly, and to one on one discipleship. This last summer, she committed her life to the Lord in water immersion. The Lord touched Maya in a powerful way during her immersion: she prayed to be set free from a nicotine addiction she’s struggled with for years, and God set her free completely! She was also healed from complications she was experiencing due to a recent difficult glaucoma surgery.
Coming Alive in the Body
We always stress to people how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers: unfortunately many believers in Israel, particularly young believers, do not belong to a congregation or small group. Not only is the local body the place where believers are discipled, supported, encouraged and strengthened in their faith, but it is also the place where they can begin serving in the gifts God has given them. That is exactly what has happened with Maya.
The Chef in the Streets
Several weeks ago, Maya started volunteering with Associate Pastor Moti Cohen at our weekly Feed Tel Aviv outreach to the homeless in the streets of south Tel Aviv. It turns out that Maya used to work as a chef: according to Moti, Maya is doing wonders in the kitchen preparing the food for the street outreach and helping manage the food preparation and distribution.
Maya also has a special approach and connection with the women we minister to on the streets (women who are addicted to drugs and working in the sex industry to fund their addiction). Many people volunteer with us at Feed Tel Aviv, and Moti has come to recognize when someone has a special calling to minister to the homeless. Maya is one of them: she knows how to talk to them, to put them at ease and how to communicate the love of God to them in a genuine way. That ability is rare and special.
A Living Testimony
Maya is a testimony of God’s desires for all believers: Maya attends services and bible studies regularly and, within weeks of committing her life to the Lord, is on the streets sharing the love of God, sharing the wisdom He has given her through life experiences and through the gifts He has entrusted to her. Maya’s journey is a witness to all of us to continue in whole-hearted devotion to the Lord, to not forsake the gathering together as believers (Hebrews 10:25) and to serve in the gits that the Lord has entrusted to each of us! (I Timothy 4:14)
We have a simple motto at congregation Tiferet Yeshua: Love God. Love each other. Love our city (Matt. 22:38-40) When our leadership team was discussing the best way to “love our city”, God reminded me of a powerful and convicting passage in the book of James:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
James 2:14-16 ESV
I then felt God tell me: put your cooking skills and pastoral training together and hit the streets. I didn’t need to look very far for a place to start: just a few city blocks away from our congregation is Israel’s skid row, the worst area in all Israel for drugs, homelessness and prostitution. That is how Feed Tel Aviv ministry was born.
Love is an Action…
Each week, we prepare 450 healthy, home-cooked meals, the majority of which we serve out of a soup kitchen facility in the worst area of south Tel Aviv. After we finish serving warm meals at the facility, we bring sandwiches and drinks to the back alleyways where the hard-core drug addicts live who are too weak and sick to make it to our facility.
We are always asked, “Who are you? Why are you here?” That is our cue to share about the love that has brought us to the streets to serve them. We offer prayer and the word of hope to whomever is open. Whoever is willing, we offer to bring directly to a drug rehab center run by believers.
Last Minute Hope – A matter of life and death
Many of the people who volunteer with us for the first time are shocked by the squalor and suffering on the streets. It is a very difficult and dark place to serve, and the lives of the people we minister to are in constant danger from drug overdose, violence, or illness attacking their weakened bodies. Rarely are people able to commit to going to drug rehabilitation we offer them– it is a frightening and challenging step for them, if they are clear-headed enough to make that decision, and those who do usually have a spouse or a child for whom they want to turn their lives around.
I can’t tell you how many people we have prayed with and shared the gospel with. When we do, I know that it might be their last opportunity to hear life-saving truth. Several years ago, we were praying with a woman who was horribly addicted to street drugs: she broke down weeping when we prayed for her, and I will never forget her prayer asking the Lord to save her and inviting Him into her life. The next day, someone informed me that she was found on a park bench the following morning: she had died during the night. Our hearts were broken, but we also knew that that precious woman had cried out to God the night before and invited the Him into her life.
A young woman caught in drug addiction and prostitution…
Nicole showed up at our outreach every week. She would have a warm meal and the ladies who volunteer with us would always talk to her and prayed with her often. Nicole was very young and found herself caught in a vicious prostitution ring run by a powerful criminal gang that kept her enslaved through her relentless drug addiction. We shared the gospel with Nicole, and she prayed with us, but she always ended up going back out onto the street. Two weeks ago, someone who comes to our outreach center shared the sad news with us: Nicole had died of a drug overdose. Her death was reported in a small local paper.
As much as this ministry is an outreach to the neediest of the needy, the people on whom our society has given up, it is also an essential learning experience for us.
When we minister to these precious people, we touch the essence of what it means to follow Yeshua: humbling ourselves to be open to and to serve those who are in the most desperate need of His love. That is indeed what He did for us.
I think that these dark, trashy, rat-infested streets where the homeless live is not very different from how the world felt to Yeshua when emptied Himself of His glory to come down to earth to serve and save us.
Thank you for supporting this important outreach! When you do, you are with us serving food and sharing the words of life to the neediest of the needy here in Israel.
by Moti Cohen
Director of Feed Tel Aviv
One of the toughest neighborhoods in Israel
The area of Tel Aviv’s central bus station where we do our food outreach to the homeless is a very tough neighborhood—it may even be the worst in all Israel. The streets where we serve –where the hard-core drug addicts hang out and there is much prostitution— are controlled by Arab crime families from the cities Lod and Ramle in central Israel and from Rahat, a troubled Bedouin city in the Negev where crime is out of control.
At the mercy of criminal gangs
So how do the criminal gangs that control the area view our presence there? To say that they don’t like us is putting it mildly. Criminal gangs make their money by selling drugs and running brothels, so when we help drug addicts and prostitutes get off the street, we are hurting their ability to make money. Every drug addict is like a walking ATM for the dealers because each day he goes to great lengths to get money for drugs. The same goes for the girls who are working in prostitution, many of whom have been coerced or forced into it: each girl turns a profit for her pimp. Most of the women in prostitution are also drug addicts, and they pay for their drugs through prostitution: when these women succeed in getting off the street, it is a double loss for the drug and prostitution rings.
“Why are you here?”
To be able to do the work that God has called us to do in this area, we have to be diplomatic and smart. Honor and respect are inherent currency in the Middle Eastern culture, especially in Arab communities, and we always make sure to be very respectful to criminals running things in our area. Very often, they will ask us why we are doing this, who is supporting us, and what our motivation is. That is when we have the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
Sharing the gospel with Arab-speakers
Whenever there is opportunity, we share the gospel with anyone who crosses our paths, and many who do are Muslim-background Arabs. In addition to the Arab criminal groups who control the area where we serve, many young Arab Muslim men come to this area because of the prostitution. There are also Palestinian construction workers from Judea and Samaria (called the West Bank in the media), in Israel legally and some illegally, who end up sleeping on the streets here because they do not want to risk not being able to get back to their jobs if they go home for the night.
In addition to Hebrew and Russian, we keep Arabic bibles and outreach material at our center which we hand out on a regular basis. In order to be able to discuss the gospel with Muslims, we need to have a basic knowledge of how the Koran speaks about Jesus. When we talk about Ee’sua ibn Miriyam (Jesus the son of Mary), using His proper Arabic name from the Koran, it somehow opens their hearts and we are able to share about His work of redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
A surprising outreach tool
There is one book that we always make sure to have on hand in Arabic: Run Baby Run by Nicky Cruz. In the 1950’s, Cruz led a notoriously violent street gang in New York City and was saved by the gospel of love that he heard from preacher David Wilkerson. Because many of the Arab men in our area are either directly involved in criminal gangs or influenced by them, this book has a powerful impact on them.
When the crime gangs loose profit
Just recently we dealt a blow to the bottom line of the drug dealers’ bottom line when I had the honor of driving a man to a rehab center run by believers. This man who suffers from a serious drug addiction has been coming to our center for meals for several years. This man knows us well and over time has learned to trust us. At one point when he was badly wounded in a street fight, he came to us for first aid.
Recently he shared with us that he has a little son whom he is not allowed to see because of his drug addiction. During the day he keeps himself busy at a construction job, but in the evening, when he is alone and has nothing to do, he ends succumbing to his addiction. Each day he tells himself that he will break the cycle of addiction so that he can make a new start and have a relationship with his son, but each evening after work, he falls back into his addiction. That evening when he was sharing with us his sadness and frustration, he let us pray for him. As we prayed for him, he asked the Lord into his life, and, immediately afterwards, he threw away all the drugs that he had on him. Right then I asked him if he wanted me to drive him to a drug rehabilitation center run by believers, and he said “Yes!”
That evening when I drove him to the rehab center, I felt such joy! Serving on the streets, we see so much pain and sadness in the lives of many who are unwilling to make the serious commitment to go to a rehab program. Not only did this young man open his heart to the Lord, but then he agreed to being taken physically out of the cycle of crime and enslavement to addiction and brought to an amazing rehabilitation center run by believers where he will have every chance and support to become free through God’s grace. It is truly a lifesaving step!
I want to thank you so much for your faithful support of this ministry! Without your help we could not be out there providing food, love and hope to so many.
by Moti Cohen
For a long time it has been on my heart that Tiferet Yeshua could find a way to bless and serve holocaust survivors. In December, Gideon, a friend from another congregation who has a calling to serve holocaust survivors, approached me about doing something special for a group of Russian background holocaust survivors for the Russian New Year holiday celebration “Novy God”. Through a generous donation from the Joseph Project to Tiferet Yeshua’s Feed Tel Aviv ministry, we were able to plan a special New Year’s banquet for over forty holocaust survivors.
For nearly two years of corona many of these holocaust survivors were isolated in their homes and unable to gather with friends and family. The opportunity to celebrate together one of the most nostalgic and meaningful holidays for Jews from Russian backgrounds was a great blessing for them. All of those invited knew they were coming to a holiday celebration hosted by Messianic Jews, and they all came to Tiferet Yeshua on their own, taking busses or taxis and then hiking up a flight of stairs—people in their eighties and nineties!
A Sephardic Jew Masters Russian Delicacies
Our goal was to bless and serve our special guests. When they arrived, we escorted them to decorated holiday tables and treated them to a traditional holiday sing-along in Russian. Afterward, we began serving them their holiday meal. One of my gifts that God has graciously allowed me to use for serving others in His name is cooking: each week I prepare home-cooked, wholesome meals for our street outreach to the homeless. This time, I used my cooking skills to dive into a culinary tradition that is completely new for me: the traditional Russian kitchen! With help from my wife who speaks Russian, I watched YouTube videos of Russian “babushkas” cooking traditional dishes, consulted with some Russian mothers and grandmothers here in Israel, and followed their directions exactly.
When I introduced myself to the group with the help of translators, I told them that their holiday meal was prepared by a Moroccan\Persian Jew who has never tasted any of these dishes before: that fact delighted and touched them. At the end of the meal, a very old man came up to me and emotionally shared that one dish in particular that I made brought him back to his childhood in Moscow. For me it was a great honor to be able to serve these special people who survived the greatest human atrocity in living memory and chose to immigrate to Israel. And it was an honor to share with them the love and hope we have God: He truly blessed the time we had together with a spirit of openness, and Kosta and Victoria, who are both of Russian backgrounds, followed the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to share encouraging words of hope from the Bible and New Testament.
For me this event was very special because my grandmother is a holocaust survivor from Latvia. At the beginning of WWII when the Nazis invaded Latvia, my grandmother fled to Russia with her mother and siblings. After the war, they returned to Latvia: that area of Latvia boasted a Jewish population of a several hundred thousand before the war. After the war, there were only three hundred Jews left.
When I was serving the holocaust survivors, I felt like I was serving my grandmother, and it was a great honor for me. Holocaust survivors deal with very complicated psychological and spiritual struggles. In addition to trauma and survivor’s guilt, many of them see the holocaust as proof that God doesn’t exist. I shared with them from my heart that their survival, just like my grandmother’s, is a miracle, and that the reason we are here today is because God has a perfect plan for His people Israel and for each one of them.
I felt it was important to emphasize that the miracle of the survival of the Jewish people and the establishment of the Jewish state are proof that God exists and has a plan for us. His plan for us, I told them, is that we would get to know Him. Afterward, many of them came up to me to express their thanks and tell me how touched they were by what I shared. Praise God for His love for these precious holocaust survivors and their open hearts!
“Novy God”, the Russian New Year celebration, is the most important and sentimental holiday for Russian Jews. Since all religious holidays were banned during soviet times, this holiday became our sole and central holiday. I shared with the holocaust survivors that I immigrated to Israel from Russia when I was a teenager, and that for all of us this holiday reminds us of warm, joyful times with our families.
While they may feel alone in their day to day lives, especially during covid, I wanted them know that no matter where they are, God is very near to them, as the Word says, and that He has special compassion for the lonely and broken-hearted. God then led me to read John 3:16 to them in Russian: a simple, powerful declaration of the gospel from the Word. All of us on the team felt that there was a special openness with these dear people and that God touched many of their hearts. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would water the seeds of hope from God’s Word that were sewn in their hearts, that He would speak to them in their times of loneliness and isolation and bring them comfort and peace in Messiah Yeshua.
This last week, Tiferet Yeshua hosted a first aid certification course, organized by Tiferet Yeshua youth leader, Halel, for the volunteers who work on the streets of south Tel Aviv. Most of the volunteers who work with Feed Tel Aviv are first aid certified, but this course offered newer volunteers a chance to become certified and was a great refresher for those who are already.
You may be asking, “Why would volunteers in a food outreach program need to be first aid certified?” It is a great question. The answer is with the homeless we serve in south Tel Aviv: people living on the streets are more than hungry: they are extremely vulnerable to violence, sickness and disease. Because the need for first aid is so great among the homeless, one of our volunteers always focuses solely on first aid each time we go out to serve food.
It Begins and Ends with Drugs:
The common denominator for everyone on the streets is drugs. Because of the proliferation of cheap, highly addictive synthetic drugs, many vulnerable people become hopelessly addicted after one hit. Addiction takes over their lives, they lose everything and end up on the streets, and many fall into crime and prostitution to support their habit. These drugs are a powerful tool of the enemy to quickly destroy people. We have witnessed it time and again how, in a matter of weeks and months, people who look healthy become weak and frail, their teeth fall out, they look years beyond their actual age, and all the life goes out of their eyes.
Afraid to seek professional medical care:
In serious cases where we see that people need professional medical care, we always try to get them to a hospital, and sometimes we succeed. However, because the people we are trying to help often have been involved in crime and prostitution to fund their addiction, they are afraid of going to the hospital for fear that the police will be called to deal with them, and they are usually unwilling to let us call an ambulance or bring them to the ER. This means that, very often, the help we offer is the only help they are willing to accept.
Violence at the hands of powerful drug dealers:
Since drugs is the powerful force dominating what happens in south Tel Aviv, it is not surprising that the ones controlling this area are the drug dealers. The worst wounds we see in the homeless are from violence at the hands of drug dealers. Many of the homeless drug addicts become “cups”, or middlemen, for the drug dealers to collect money owed them. If the “cups” don’t come up with the money, for whatever reason, the drug dealers will make a point to leave people with horrific facial scars in order to send a message to the others on the street.
Bodies weakened by drug use and attack:
The most common first aid that we give is disinfecting wounds— in the hands, arms, legs and feet. Because people’s systems are so weakened by the drug use and they are living in unsanitary conditions, festering wounds become a persistent problem. The homeless often have wounds from being attacked by animals, be it rats, dogs or cats. Whenever someone it bitten by an animal, we try to get them to the hospital for shots against animal-born illnesses. However, usually the only help they are willing to accept is that which we are giving them.
Building trust takes time but opens doors to the heart:
Our motto at Feed Tel Aviv is: share the love of God, hope, and the gospel of salvation with the homeless in our city. Firstly, meeting people’s immediate physical needs in a caring and compassionate way—this is bringing them the love of God. We tell them about drug rehabilitation centers run by believers and actively connect any who are interested—bringing them hope. When we are meeting their physical needs, we ask if they would like prayer, opening the door to share who we are and in in whose name we pray—to share the gospel of salvation. Some do and some don’t.
But I don’t lose hope for those who refuse prayer at first: over time, seeing us there month after month, year after year, many begin to open up to us. And they often point out that they received the food and first aid from us for a long time before they felt comfortable sharing their stories with us and being willing to hear about what brings us to the streets to serve them—the love of God and the message of salvation!
We can continue this very important outreach to the homeless in Tel Aviv thanks to the generous support of our friends in the nations. Thank you!
Associate Pastor Moti Cohen
Feed Tel Aviv was born as a response to the dire need caused by homelessness in one of Israel’s worst areas not far from congregation Tiferet Yeshua. Our desire was to meet the immediate needs of those living on the streets in this area. As we began, the Lord gave me these verses from James 2 to be our guide:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’”
As an outreach, we want to provide for the physical needs of the people living on the street which are, first and foremost, food and warm clothing. In addition to food, warm clothing, and unconditional love (of course!), we also need to have a first aid kit with us at all times.
It is hard to imagine what it’s really like living on the streets—the hunger, the extreme weather, the rats. And you would be surprised how not having the basics of soap and water can put someone’s health at risk. People living on the streets often end up in the hospital because of wounds that have become infected, and some even end up with limbs amputated because the infections are so severe. When our team of volunteers goes out onto the street, we make sure to have basic first aid with us to be able to treat wounds in the people we meet.
Living on the streets also puts people under the constant threat of physical violence. One evening, a young man we know well, came to the soup kitchen facility with his face covered in blood. He was breathing hard because he was in such pain and asked us if we had antiseptic. I saw that his nose had been hit and was badly cut. Our volunteer team immediately took him to the sink and gave him towels to first stop the bleeding.
Like I mentioned, we have known this man for a long time, and he is one of the toughest guys on the street. His Russian accent might fool you, but he also speaks fluent Arabic. In the IDF, he was a commander of an elite unit that would disguise themselves as Arabs, and, from within the Arab community, they would neutralize terrorist activity.
So here is this big, army commando with his nose smashed in, telling us what we need to do to take care of his wound. We could see it was severe and were trying to convince him to let us call an ambulance, but he would not have it. Finally, one of our brave volunteers, Laylah, stepped up and began pouring antiseptic over his open wound. I can’t imagine how much it hurt, but he didn’t make a sound.
Some of the others then came and started praying for him. After that, we were able to convince him to let us call an ambulance for him (because he really needed professional medical care). A week later we saw him again, and this time he had a smile on his face. His wounds were healing, and he thanked us for the help we gave him. We thank God that we were there for this young man that night, to help, support and to pray for Him.
Thanks to your support of us, we can continue being a living witness of God’s love by bringing practical help and first aid to those who desperately need it.
The vision of our Feed Tel Aviv outreach was born, first and foremost, out of a desire that our congregation would be a blessing to the community around us. One community near Tiferet Yeshua happens to be the worst area for homelessness and drug use in Israel. Since its beginning, Feed Tel Aviv has been a labor of love that has blessed many of us by seeing lives touched and people saved from the streets. What I never imagined is the fact that Feed Tel Aviv would become a “discipleship training” of sorts for believers who want to serve the poor and learn how to witness on the streets but don’t know how to begin or have the opportunity. It has been such a surprise and a joy for me that through this ministry we get to see so many sincere believers from all over Israel who want to serve the poor get touched with the passion for outreach and sharing the gospel!
Recently, a man named Eliav contacted me: he is a youth group leader from a congregation in the north. Eliav wanted to know if it was possible to bring their youth group to Tel Aviv to volunteer with us during our outreach to the homeless. I told him that we would be happy to have them join us, and we set a date for them to come. Eliav brought his youth group—twelve young men and women, salt of the earth, who want to devote their time serving Israeli society.
The first thing we did was to prepare the food together, making over a hundred hamburgers and other sandwiches to hand out on the streets. That day in Tel Aviv turned out to be quite cold and rainy, so we also prepared large pots of hot sweet tea and filled a few large serving thermoses to take with us. We also brought with us winter gear—jackets, blankets, gloves and hats—in order to give to the homeless who would end up sleeping on the street though the cold night. The fact that there were so many helping hands with the youth volunteers made it much easier to bring the winter gear and tea thermoses with us.
That day the youth group had many special encounters with people on the street. Some people just wanted food. Others asked for prayer in addition to the food and warm clothing. Some just wanted to talk and pour out their hearts to someone who would listen. It was amazing seeing these young people responding with love to some of the most shocking sights of poverty and desperation they have ever seen. With God’s grace, these youth overcome their shock and feelings of awkwardness and began praying for and sharing the love of God with the people on the street.
Eliav and his youth group are Hebrew and Russian speakers: because a large percentage of the homeless drug addicts are from a Russian background, there was a special connection and they ended up spending much more time speaking with, listening to and praying for Russian speakers they met. Many drug addicts, even Arab addicts, came up to this group of young people to give them a warning: “We were young like you when we started trying drugs, and look where we ended up. Don’t make the mistakes we did!” It was a powerful thing for the youth to hear such sober warnings from the drug addicts themselves, and to hear their sincere hurt and regret over the choices they had made.
We are so thankful that God is putting it on the hearts of many here in Israel to devote time to serving these “invisibles” on the street and that He is using this outreach to train believers here in Israel to walk out their faith like Yeshua did: reaching out to the lost and suffering with love, mercy, and hope.
Thanks to your support, we can continue this important outreach here in Israel. Thank you!