By Arlene Bridges Samuels
Israel the Miracle is a significant and beautiful new book brainstormed by Jonathan Feldstein, an Israeli Orthodox Jew and founder of Genesis 123, a cutting-edge nonprofit. Israel the Miracle is no ordinary book. It elegantly portrays growing friendships between Jews and Christians within Jonathan’s calling to create projects banding Christians and Jews more closely together. Standing with Israel now, amid its increasing peril, is a welcome project to celebrate during Israel’s 75th anniversary year—and those to come.
Based on our shared faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our relationships are timelier than ever, since Israel needs steadfast Christian friends doing as much as humanly possible to advocate for the Jewish homeland.
Feldstein’s anthology of short, inspiring stories gathered from 75 Christian leaders worldwide honors Israel in its 75th year as a modern Jewish state. These authors have stood with Israel in numerous and varied ways—hosting tours to Israel, leading prayer movements, educating legislators worldwide, plus encouraging donations, humanitarian aid, and more. Combined, these 75 leaders are a small yet important sampling of an estimated 600 million evangelicals worldwide who identify consistently as supporters of the world’s singular Jewish country.
The stories are captivating, with “picture perfect” an apt description for the photographs vividly portraying the Holy Land’s beauty. As you turn one stunning page after another, you will rejoice that this coffee table book carries the foundational messages of cooperation and respect between evangelicals and Jews—particularly in the last four decades.
A reflection of more than 40 years of Christian ministries pioneering on the ground in Israel, Israel the Miracle is a source about small seeds growing into large fruitful trees. As an active years-long advocate for Israel, since 1980 I have observed the important founding of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and several other concurrent evangelical organizations such as Bridges for Peace, Christian Friends of Israel, and King of Kings Church. Devoted Christians who pioneered in the early 1980s have grown into nearly 70 ministries called Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM).
Present-day Christian ministries are also legacies from pre-state Israel under the Ottoman Empire during its 600-plus-year rule between 1300-1923. It is likely that the earliest Christian ministry in the Holy Land was established in the 19th century under the Ottomans. Prominent Chicago attorney Horatio Spafford and his wife, Anna, moved to Jerusalem in 1881 to establish what locals later called “the American colony.”
Their ministry began after a horrific tragedy in 1873 where the Spaffords’ four young daughters drowned. Horatio had sent his wife and daughters ahead to Europe on the luxurious French passenger ship Ville du Havre, but an ironclad clipper plowed into their ship in the dark of night and split it midships. Twelve minutes later, the ship sank. Two hundred and seventy-three souls drowned in the frigid waters; only 47 survived. Despite Anna’s frantic, desperate resolve to save her daughters, they slipped out of her arms into the fearsome high seas. Anna survived.
Horatio quickly boarded a vessel sailing to Europe and wrote a beloved hymn near the location pointed out by the ship’s captain where his daughters had drowned. “It is Well With My Soul” is a hymn that has comforted millions of us for 150 years!
Later, believing the unmistakable biblical relevance of the Holy Land, the Spaffords moved to Jerusalem with 17 Americans and established a clinic, orphanage, soup kitchens, and a hostel. They served everyone in need— Jew, Muslim, Christian, Arab, and Bedouin. Their mercy ministry was respected and admired by all. In the lead-up to World War I, Jerusalem was invaded by hunger, typhus, field-ravaging locusts, and weapons of war. The Colony’s ministry became even more pronounced by managing the military hospitals—where they treated both Turkish and European POWs.
The American Colony, now a five-star hotel, is rich in history, displaying valuable photographs by the Spaffords and their colleagues who superbly embodied 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
Indeed, the commitment exhibited by Christian leaders featured in Israel the Miracle propels the American colony legacy from Jerusalem’s desolate, dusty streets 142 years ago into modern Israel’s thriving innovations and beauty. Evangelical ministries have prayerfully sensed the same call of the 19th-century believers. Like those diverse communities living under Ottoman rule, many Christian organizations today reach out in similar ways to Israel’s diverse populations of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Palestinian Arabs, Christian Arabs, Israeli Arabs, and Bedouins.
Israel the Miracle is a beautiful book to place in your home or office or give as a gift. When you hold this symbolic book in your hands, you may use it to pray for Israel and for the leaders and ministries represented. Inspired by these 75 stories, you might be encouraged to take on a dual mantle: one of prayer matched with practical helps. Along with Jonathan’s non-profit foundation Genesis 123, the ministries represented in the book offer examples of practical helps you may select. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s remarkable founder, Pat Robertson, and his son Gordon (who has skillfully taken up his father’s mantle) are both featured.
In closing, I thank my friend Jonathan Feldstein for inviting my endorsement: “Essays from 75 devoted advocates share gleaming insights about our spiritual homeland. During its 75th sapphire anniversary year, God reveals His design for Jerusalem in Isaiah 54:11 to use blue sapphires for its foundation. Israel is the only place on earth where rare deep blue Mount Carmel sapphires are found. Israel itself, shining as a rarity, is the only nation on earth where God declares in Leviticus, ‘the Land is mine.’”
You can order your own copy of this special book at IsraeltheMiracle.com.
- Pray with thanks for the warm friendships and cooperation between Christians and Jews in Israel and abroad.
- Pray for both Christians and Jews who are at odds with each other and do not reflect the mutual friendships of those featured in Israel the Miracle.
- Pray for Israel’s detractors to recognize the worthwhile projects shared by Christians and Jews.
- Pray for Jonathan Feldstein, a genuine and kind influencer, writer, and project creator who honors God, our shared values, and the strong bridges he is building between our faith communities.