Situated in the mountains of Northern Israel, only 40 kilometers from the Lebanese border, is the Karmi’El Messianic Congregation, aptly named Rivers of Living Water (RLW). A drive through the verdant winding landscape, which leads to this Northern town is a showcase of some of the most majestic landscapes in the Holy Land. Despite their distant placement, far from the country’s center where most the Israeli population resides, they have been able to facilitate enormous outreach efforts, and touch the lives of many. Named for Jesus’s proclamation during the Feast of Booths in the Book of John, this congregation is trying to live out their namesake. “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” (John 7:37). In this, Jesus is speaking of abundance in the Spirit flowing forth from his Believers, and being a source for others who are thirsty for divine love and revelation.
This congregation’s mission is clear, to be an overflow of God’s love, like Living Water, to those in need. Therefore, CBN Israel is proud to partner with this congregation in supporting holocaust survivors in the periphery. This week, RLW hosted one of their largest social events to date. Inviting nearly 700 holocaust survivors and their families, to attend a cultural theatrical event in Karmi’El. This was a monumental occasion, seeing as the local municipality allowed the congregation to utilize their performing arts center to host the event, and maximize their occupancy capabilities. This was a huge display of faith on the municipality’s part, as it is very uncommon for Israeli towns and cities to support or promote Messianic-run events, such as this one. The congregation leader, and host of the evening, Irene Friedman was beaming after the performance, and said “it is only God who can open doors like this, we do our best, but He is what makes the impossible possible”.
The performance was a combination of singing, dancing and short teachings from the Tanach. A violinist and accordion duet were a favored act, playing poignant pieces from Schindler’s list and other known compositions. The performance was special in that it catered to Russian and Hebrew-speaking beneficiaries, most of whom were born in the Soviet Union, and made Aliyah fleeing pogroms and the holocaust many decades ago. Through music and story-telling, they worked to illustrate a tale in which ‘God is the light within the darkness’.
As the lights transitioned to a pale hue, an image of Jerusalem was projected across the stage, and a harmony of voices snag out from the audience to sing a blessing over Jerusalem. Elderly voices hummed rhythmically, and a few tears were shed with the recognition of their deliverance, when so many were not as lucky. A slideshow and song accompaniment showed the establishment of the state of Israel, through war and peace. It displayed the state as a fulfillment of prayer and prophecy; Flashing forward to modern times, we see that The Land is still under threat from enemies of the Jewish people, but a hopeful note shows that together we can overcome, with the blessing of the God of Israel. Lastly, the show illustrated Israel’s numerous ‘aliyot’ (waves of immigration) and their technological boom, from agricultural successes in the Kibbutz movement to the Israel of today, which is a hub for start-ups and research and development.
CBN Israel was proud to provide 8 tour buses for transporting survivors from Northern cities like Tsfat, Nazareth, Nahariyya and others. There was such a large demand to attend the event, but many of the elderly are without means to travel outside of their homes very often due to lack of financing and physical capability. Events such as this one are celebratory milestones that are vital to mental and emotional well-being, which is why CBN and RLW feel so strongly that outreach efforts are critical to fostering a sense of support and community.
CBN has been in partnership with congregations like RLW to provide on-going monthly provisions to needy holocaust survivors throughout the Galilee region. Irene stated that, “[CBN] is providing food parcels to holocaust survivors in 6 cities in the areas of the North and Galilee, so it is through this that CBN really helps us establish connections and trust with many of the survivors, and many came to the event”. We are so grateful to find partners like Irene Friedman and Rivers of Living Water Congregation who also share a vision for blessing elderly holocaust survivors. Irene said that their mission is clear with this population, “This is what God has laid on our hearts, and because these are people who went through extreme hardships and need much comfort, we want to show them God’s love in this stage of life”.