Abraham Accords Agreement Welcomes Sudan into the “Circle of Peace”

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

President Trump’s foreign policy is dramatically reshaping the Middle East. The intensely complex, conflict-ridden region is moving into a new era. On a conference call in the Oval Office on October 23, Trump announced Sudan’s entry into the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement. Gratified about “peace in the Middle East without bloodshed,” President Trump called Sudan “a new democracy” and broached the possibility of including five more Arab nations into the fold. 

During that three-way telephone conversation from the Oval office, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the Abraham Accords a “circle of peace.” Since September 15 of this year, three Arab countries have now normalized relations with the Jewish state: first the United Arab Emirates (UAE), then Bahrain, and now Sudan. 

Reporters on hand in the Oval Office asked Prime Minister Netanyahu about the benefits of the Accords. He mentioned the already active plans in the areas of tourism, technology, and trade with UAE and Bahrain. To the President Trump’s remarks that “the same thing is going to happen with Sudan. … It changes the lives of people,” Netanyahu responded, “Exactly as you said, Mr. President. We’re not engaging in bloodshed. We’re not engaging in antagonism. We’re engaging in cooperation. … It’s not a distant vision. It’s not a distant dream. … We’re actually seeing the fruits of peace right now. … We’ve never seen anything like it.”

In thanking President Trump for brokering the peace agreement, Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, pointed out, “We’re about to get rid of the heaviest legacy of Sudan’s previous, defunct regime. I should reiterate that we are peace-loving people and have never supported terrorism.” He hopes that his once-reviled country will now become a respected nation.

Prime Minister Hamdok was referring to Sudan’s pock-marked history that has been deeply scarred by its terrorist-Islamist President, Omar al-Bashir. Thrown out in 2019, he is finally in prison and standing trial. The International Criminal Court is indicting al-Bashir with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide—the first head of state to be so charged. In the meantime, Sudan’s current regime is a shaky one, shared by two leaders: Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his civilian counterpart, Prime Minister Hamdok. Al-Burhan is set to cede control of the transitional Sovereignty Council to Hamdok in 2022. 

Sudan’s transition to a civilian, democratic government is frankly miraculous, and in numerous ways. While optimism was on full display during the Oval Office conference call, Sudan’s shocking history will pose knottier challenges for the peace agreement to move forward. Sudan’s former President, Omar al-Bashir, ruined Sudan during his reign of terror from 1989 until 2019 when he was deposed. A civil war that took place in western Sudan, the Darfur Genocide is tragically cited as the first genocide of the 21st century. Figures vary, but some show that 2.5 million people were murdered, including 1 million children who were brutally tortured, raped, or killed. 

A second civil war took place in Sudan’s south, a more ethnically diverse part of the country. After 20 years of war, South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. By that time, 1.5 million people had been killed and 4 million displaced. The nation’s current population of 10 million is mostly Christian and animist.

Sudan’s population today is more than 41 million, mostly Sunni Muslims. Upwards of 2 million Christians live there, with Catholics and Protestants in the majority along with 100,000 Orthodox Christians. The country’s history dates back to the Bible, which calls Sudan by varying ancient names such as Kush (Cush), Nubia, and Havilah. For example, Genesis 2:11-12 mentions Nubia as rich in gold, bdellium and onyx. Some scholars even believe that this area was the southwestern boundary of Eden, a vast well-watered land in between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. And Numbers 12:1 tells us that Moses married a Cushite woman.

Thus far, Sudan is the largest nation geographically in the Abraham Accords and sits on Egypt’s southern border. Protests for democracy began in 2018, and in 2019 the military overthrew al-Bashir. The country began to see shafts of light in their 30-year cavernous hole of darkness. 

Sudan is no longer constitutionally dominated by Islamic laws and it assures freedom of religion. The interim Sovereign Council now has a Christian woman as a member. Yet, even after al-Bashir’s ouster, unrest and instability persisted. In addition, Christian persecution remained rampant—with murder, discrimination, and arson strikes against this minority population. In 2019, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended a special envoy to help Sudanese Christians during the transition to democracy. 

The USCIRF is chaired by Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council. He praises the appointment of Donald E. Booth as special envoy to Sudan. For years Christians were not allowed to march at Christmas, but when December 25 was declared a public holiday last year, Sudanese Christians marched with joy. Of this jubilant expression of religious liberty, one pastor exclaimed, “How great is freedom!”

Another set of miracles surrounds Sudan’s history with Israel. In 1967, Sudan hosted the Arab League in its capital, Khartoum, after Israel won the 1967 Six-Day War. The League passed the Khartoum Resolution, which famously contains “The Three No’s”—no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. In Netanyahu’s announcement to Israelis from his Jerusalem office last week, he commented that Khartoum’s three “no’s” had become three “yeses” of peace. “Today, Khartoum has said, ‘yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel, and yes to normalization with Israel.’ This is a new era. An era of true peace.”

Prior to finalizing the negotiations, President Trump mandated that Sudan first pay $335 million to U.S. terror victims and families. He tweeted, “Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, justice for the American people and big step for Sudan!” 

A big step, indeed. The U.S. government had pressed this issue with Sudan for 25 years, due to a direct al-Qaida connection. Osama bin Laden had lived in Sudan for five years in the 1990s. His al-Qaida network perpetrated two terror attacks that killed 700 Americans. Sudan was already included on the terrorist list in 1993—with sanctions—due to its support for jihadists. Sudan is listed as one of four State Sponsors of Terror—with Iran, North Korea, and Syria. A U.S. President has the power to lift the designation, and Congress has 45 days to object if it wishes. In an interesting aside, Spanish politician Josep Borrell Fontelles, a diplomatic High Representative of the European Union, tweeted: “US intention to lift the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation of #Sudan is momentous.”

Please join us in praying for Sudan as it joins the “circle of peace” with Israel:

  • Pray with thankfulness that the Trump Administration has designated $50 million to advance religious freedoms worldwide, using a State Department “whole of government” approach. 
  • Pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional healing for Sudanese Christians who have undergone horrifying traumas and grief.
  • Pray that stability will expand and become permanent for Sudan’s transitional government. 
  • Pray that the current leaders, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock and Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan will grow in unity on behalf of their nation
  • Pray for blessings of health and stamina for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is a dedicated Christian. He is the point man for the evolving new era in the Middle East. 
  • Pray that Israel and the U.S. will continue to make strides toward unprecedented peace in the Middle East.

Yes, momentous events are unfolding in Sudan. Yet our prayers must reflect the complicated realities ahead. Let us include Genesis 2:11-12 prayers asking God to restore modern Sudan’s ancient Nubian prosperity akin to rich in gold, bdellium and onyx.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times. She hosts her devotionals on her website at


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Victim of Terrorism: Lena’s Story

Lena and her husband were working the factory night shift, when her phone rang. It was the police—reporting that her apartment building was hit by a rocket. The couple rushed home and stood there in shock. Their apartment was gone. Everything they ever owned was destroyed.

Israel had been under rocket attack from Gaza, and their village in Ashkelon faced constant bombardment. Yet, they were emotionally unprepared for the terrorism they saw.

“I felt so empty… On the one hand, I felt so grateful, because my husband and I were still alive. Our neighbors in the apartment above us and the apartment below us were all killed,” Lena said tearfully. “But, on the other hand, I knew we had lost everything. … I’d never see it again.”

Although the government restored their building’s exterior, the entire interior was ruined—furniture, photos, appliances, electronics. But thankfully, friends like you were there for them.

CBN Israel local partners in Ashkelon were there to help Lena and her husband clean up the debris. Thanks to generous people like you, we gave them furniture, so they could live normally until they could save up to buy other necessities. We also provided them with electronic devices, and a washing machine and refrigerator, which they desperately needed.

Lena and other terror victims are so grateful for this help. We are extending God’s love and emergency aid to many more who are hurting throughout the Holy Land, especially during COVID-19.

Your support of CBN Israel can offer food, essentials, and more to Holocaust survivors, refugees, lone soldiers, and families in crisis. Please help us make a difference in this special land for those in need!


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Weekly Devotional: If God is for Us

Between our 24-hour news cycle and social media, it’s pretty easy to find ourselves overwhelmed by anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. The struggles of today, the worry of tomorrow threaten to drown us in despair—even those who believe in Jesus.

Fear and uncertainty have the potential to throw us off balance mentally and emotionally. How often do we allow the climate of our society and the world around us to dictate our mood, feelings, and outlook?

Paul asked the Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV). He proceeds to argue that if God didn’t withhold His Son, but offered Him for us, then what have we to fear? He asks in verse 35, “Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” separate us from the love of Christ?

All of these trials posed real threats to the Roman believers, yet Paul reasons with them that in spite of those things (note he didn’t say they wouldn’t experience them), they could not be separated from the love of Christ. He continues, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38-39 RSV).

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Let that sink in for a moment. Not famine, pestilence, or pandemic. Nothing. Not peril, sword, principalities, or elections. Nothing. Not social and racial unrest. Nothing. Not the present, nor the future, not even death. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Then why are we so fearful? Why, as believers, do our anxieties so often mirror the world in which we live? We may like to claim verses of Scripture, maybe even these verses in Romans 8, yet we live overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.

Do you believe He is for you? Do you believe that He is also for the person on the other side of the street that you don’t agree with? He is.

Faith cannot coexist with worry. You may say you believe that God is for us and that nothing can separate us from His love, but does your life align with this truth?    

Do you find yourself wrapped daily in the truth that God is for you? If so, then the worry and anxiety within our world should not affect our mood or feelings. Our fearful world looks for those who walk in peace in the midst of chaos. Maybe that, more than anything else, can testify to an anxious world the reality of a God who is for us.


Father, You are for me; You are for us. Help us today to walk in the truth of that realization and may our peace in chaos testify to Your love and bring glory to Your name. Amen.

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Torah Reading Commentary: The Right Man?

By Mark Gerson

One of the infinitely great and true aspects of the Torah is the complexity of every major figure. Indeed, perhaps the mark of genuinely knowing a biblical character—from Adam to Abraham, from Rebecca to Miriam, from Jacob to Joseph, from Judah to Moses—is appreciating just how each of them is a mixture of good, bad, and changing qualities. This makes naming children challenging, as everyone in the Torah has characteristics that we definitely do not want our children to have. And it would make blessing a child—as we Jews do every Friday night, with a prayer that they be like a biblical character—similarly challenging. We solve that by blessing our girls to be like four people (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah) and our boys to be like two (Ephraim and Manasseh). Consequently, we ask God to imbue our children with the best qualities of multiple people and thus to build up their sacred uniqueness.

Usually, the complexity of the biblical character emerges as we get to know him or her. We meet Moses when he is an infant, we are introduced to Abraham before he begins his life’s journey, and we hear about Joseph when he is born but are really introduced to him when he is a self-centered and pampered teenager. 

Their complexity will emerge along with the stories about them. There is one character, though, who stands apart. This character may be the least complex of the major figures of the Bible, in that his personality is straightforward and his actions predictable. Yet it is this character who, alone, the author of the Torah directly assesses. But the assessment is so complex that it leads us readers to appreciate the complexity in assessing any person. And this is a valuable lesson, as assessing people and situations is the function that we do most frequently and most importantly. 

Noah, we are told in Genesis 6:9, is “righteous in his generation.” This seemingly simple assessment has launched millennia of discussion and debate among the wisest Jewish commentators. The pro-Noah side maintains that the appellation of “righteous” is, especially coming from God, unambiguous praise. And Noah’s being called righteous “in his generation” amplifies the praise. Jewish teaching emphasizes that we all respond, with remarkable sensitivity, to the moral character of our surroundings. Consequently, it is important to live in a community of people who will elevate us. It is remarkable, this school maintains, of Noah to be righteous in a degenerate generation—as his ability to resist the negative influences all around him make him even greater. The primary proponent of this view was Resh Lakish, the third-century gladiator who left that profession to become a great Rabbi. Coming from a world of bad influences, Resh Lakish knew just how pernicious they can be—and judged Noah favorably. 

The other school maintains that “in his generation” is criticism. Sure, Noah was righteous in that generation—a generation so bad that God couldn’t find anyone else worth saving from the flood. In any other generation, Noah would not have been anything special. 

How should each of us assess Noah?

God tells Noah that he is going to destroy the world and instructs him to build an ark to save himself, his family, and animals. Noah dutifully complies. However, as the commentators in the second school emphasize, complying is one thing, but arguing is what genuinely righteous people do. Abraham and Moses both argue with God, and both resoundingly win—convincing the Lord. But Noah never makes the case for anyone. He can’t find one sweet child to bring before God and say, “Are you saying that she is evil and should be destroyed?” He is, commentators in this school say, a “tsaddik in fur.” A person who is cold can warm up in one of two ways: by putting on a fur coat or by lighting a fire. The fire will warm everyone, but Noah chooses the coat. 

The ark that God commands Noah to construct is, by any standard, enormous—as is befitting a ship that needs to house so many animals. Surely, in the years it took to build the ship lots of people would have stopped and asked Noah what he was doing. He either somehow avoids such conversations or engages them and fails to inspire anyone to repent or even help him build. In either case—despite having the blessing of God and a huge building project—he does not positively influence anyone. 

Years pass, and Noah finishes the lonely process of creating the ark. Noah enters the ark with “his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives with them.” The commentators take note of the order. The men enter separately from their wives, acknowledging that it would be improper to make love while the world is being destroyed. 

The world is destroyed by the flood, a year passes, and a dove indicates that the earth is dry and habitable. Still, Noah stays in the ark. God has to tell him to disembark: “Go forth from the Ark,” God instructs, “you and your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you.” God wants the husbands to join their wives. It is time for them to make love, to repopulate and to recreate the world. 

“So Noah went forth,” the Torah tells us. “And his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives with him.” 

Noah leads his party out of the ark in the wrong order! Whether he is traumatized or something else, we do not know. All we know is that he is consistent and thus predictable. He does not rush out of the ark to recreate the world when he learns it is habitable.

God does not give up on Noah; quite the contrary. God blesses him and guarantees him with the rainbow that he will never destroy the world again. God proves himself to be an exceptional therapist, but he still needs a willing patient. 

Noah responds by planting a vineyard. He gets completely drunk and “debases” himself with nakedness that his son Ham disgracefully observes and talks about. We are told that Noah lives for 350 years—leaving him plenty of time to repent, transform, and recreate. But Noah, as far as we know, does nothing. 

What do we think of Noah? It is one of the many awesome and eternal questions aroused by the Torah. Before answering, we should ask another question: What does God think of Noah? We are not told. But I have a theory. 

I think God is saying, “I am not going to blame Noah for failing to recreate the world. I blame myself. I picked the wrong guy. Noah was always a fundamentally decent man, righteous in his generation by either interpretation. But he was a passive rule-follower, not an inspiration, not a risk-taker, not a leader. He was never going to recreate the world, he was never going to deliver me to the nations. Of course, he would instead disappear into drunkenness. I should have known that goodness does not alone qualify a person for leadership, that different challenges call for different qualities and sometimes thus different people. I’ve learned, and I have a solution. I’m going to create Abraham.” 

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who (along with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson) is perhaps the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is the co-founder of African Mission Healthcare (AMH) and the author of a forthcoming book on the Haggadah: The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.  

Twitter: @markgerson
Podcast: The Rabbi’s Husband

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Not Fake News: Israel Holds its Fourth Christian Media Summit

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Mistrust of the media is a modern global phenomenon. Yet on October 18, Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) extended a warm hand of trust to Christian media organizations from across the world. Despite this summit being a virtual Zoom event due to Israel’s pandemic lockdown, the GPO still delivered—for the fourth year in a row—superb information and valuable insights from both Israeli and Christian leaders. 

In 2017, when the GPO unveiled its first Christian Media Summit (CMS), it invited 150 top-tier Christian media entities—including founders and CEOs of world-renowned Christian media outlets—to come to Israel for briefings, dialogue, and travel to faith-related locations. Worldwide, approximately 500 Christian media professionals from some 50 countries have participated in the last four years. Well over 100,000 people across the globe watched the GPO’s livestream of the event and God TV’s broadcast. 

The GPO’s highly respected Director, Nitzan Chen, opened the summit, greeting us warmly as always. He exhorted us to maintain “the good name of media,” adding that “our honesty and integrity are a jewel in the crown for all of us.” In fact, Israel’s government views Christian media as a vital professional channel of information to Christian tourists, viewers, readers, and Internet users across the globe. 

In his annual remarks to the summit, Prime Minister Netanyahu once again emphasized, “We have no better friends than Christian media around the world. You have been with us through thick and thin. You have been extraordinary champions.” In his parting comment, he encouraged us to “keep raising the torch of truth.” 

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, inspired us with one of his Torah readings during Israel’s Rosh Hashanah lockdown. His comments focused on Genesis 25:9, where brothers Isaac and Ishmael buried their father Abraham together. The Ambassador linked it with the recent Abraham Accord: “It’s a universal benefit for people to reconcile. When it happens, we can rejoice.”

Other leaders in Israel’s political, civic, military, cultural, and religious roles once again furthered our understanding in order to improve our ability as media professionals to promote facts about Israel. The Summit featured first-class briefings by such luminaries as Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus, International Spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces; Professor Shmuel Shapira, Director General of Institute for Biological Research; Jerusalem Post Editor Maayan Hoffman, Dr. Jurgen Buhler, President of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; and Olga Deutsch, Vice President of the research institute NGO Monitor.  

Gordon Robertson, CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), discussed Israel’s national symbol, the Menorah, noting, “The Menorah is now outside the Temple, and that is Israel.” He based his remarks on Isaiah 49:6: “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” CBN and its founder, Pat Robertson, have led the charge for nearly five decades in urging evangelical Christians to stand in support of Israel and the Jewish people. 

Today, CBN Israel gives Christians the distinct opportunity to reach millions worldwide with unbiased news and films that tell the true story of Israel while also providing humanitarian relief to Israelis in need—including aging Holocaust survivors, victims of terror, families in crisis, and new immigrants making their prophetic return to their ancestral homeland. 

With warm ties now at an all-time high, you may ask how such good will developed between Israel and evangelicals. Simply put, relationships matter. The Christian Media Summit arose out of trust-building between Jews and Christians in the United States, Israel, and among 600 million evangelicals around the world.  

This friendship-building began speeding up in 1980, when the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) planted a seed in Israeli ground. Like institutional “grandparents” of the now numerous Israel-focused Christian organizations, their work for 40 years has grown into a massive oak tree of comfort and practical help, with branches in 90 nations.

Meantime, in 1981, U.S. Pastor John Hagee held the first annual “Night to Honor Israel” in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. He met with local Rabbi Areyeh Scheinberg to propose his idea. Their friendship and collaboration have endured for 40 years as a model for evangelicals and Jews. 

Yet, when the new millennium began in 2000, understandable caution and suspicion about Christians—based on centuries of anti-Semitism—still remained embedded in Jewish communities. 

Surprisingly, the horrific Second Intifada—which also began in 2000—became a setting where the warmth factor rose somewhat among Israelis toward evangelicals. The Second Intifada (Arabic for “uprising, rebellion, to shake off”) was a five-year nightmare of grief, agony, and trauma for Israelis. Palestinian terrorists donned suicide vests and used all kinds of violence to murder 1,137 civilians and security personnel. No location was immune to grisly terrorist violence, whether a bus, restaurant or home. The number of injuries soared, with 8,341 Israelis wounded during this prolonged terror campaign. 

Within the Jewish population—around 5–6 million at the time—almost everyone knew someone who had been murdered or injured. Tourism came to a virtual standstill. Israelis, if they could, fled the country. Yet despite the violence, one group of visitors continued traveling to Israel: evangelical Christians. 

Although many Christian—and Jewish—tours did cancel, enough came anyway to at least be noticeable. During those years, when I worked alongside Goodwill Ambassador Earl Cox, I recall the astonishment among Israelis when they saw our groups of Christians. Going to Israel during an Intifada, during a time of vicious violence, made an unspoken yet powerful statement: “You have friends.”

In the United States, several initiatives unfolded between 2005 and 2007. In 2005 the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), known as the leader in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship via Congress, wisely invited Christian leaders to join up with its bipartisan organization. In 2005, AIPAC—a historically Jewish institution—hired a seasoned National Outreach Director from the Jewish community to lay the groundwork. Then in 2006, Pastor John Hagee founded Christians United for Israel (CUFI), and in 2007 AIPAC hired me as its first Christian Outreach Director and continued building its non-Jewish outreach staff. 

The mostly Jewish members of AIPAC have embraced its Christian members, who in the last 15 years have developed strong relationships within AIPAC and in the U.S. Congress with both Democrats and Republicans. This has resulted in the added success of key legislation benefiting the U.S. and Israel. AIPAC’s advocacy is considered key in ensuring Israel’s security aid annually. The work of both AIPAC and CUFI has become a driving force of advocacy. 

AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., draws 18,000 attendees. CUFI’s 9 million members fully support donations in the millions to Israeli charities. Both organizations host multiple annual tours that promote not only Israel’s spiritual richness but also geopolitical insight into Israel’s issues. Tourism in that country reached its highest numbers in 2019, with 4.5 million tourists spending $6.65 billion. More than half of these were Christians.  

With the tremendous growth of engaged pro-Israel Christians in the last 20 years, it’s not surprising that American evangelicals jumped into the last presidential election urging both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to sign on to “Five Principles” to support Israel. Key among them: moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. 

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s U.S. branch launched the presidential project, naming it American Christian Leaders for Israel. They created an active coalition of hundreds of top evangelical leaders in 2015. They first sent a Letter of Principles to both candidates. The Clinton campaign never responded. They heard from Trump’s campaign almost immediately. Now, since President Trump’s win in 2016, his policies toward Israel are legendary. 

It’s clear that Christian media and 600 million evangelicals worldwide will remain dedicated to Israel’s well-being. Not because Israel or any other nation is perfect. But because Christians serve a perfect God who offered us redemption through the Jewish people as vessels for our Bible and our precious Jewish Savior. We have every reason we need for our loyalty. 

Let’s pray that Christian support for Israel will be strengthened like never before:

  • Pray that God would continue to inspire more Christians to build bridges of healing, trust, and hope with Israel and Jewish communities across the globe. 
  • Pray for CBN Israel that they would continue to grow and expand their capacity to bless more and more Israeli families and communities in desperate need. 
  • Pray for Chris Mitchell and the CBN News team in Jerusalem that they will continue informing the world about what is happening in Israel and the Middle East—all from a biblical and prophetic perspective. 
  • Pray for author Joel Rosenberg’s success with his new media channels AllIsraelNews and AllArabNews, which will increase additional Christian and balanced media.
  • Pray that CBN would continue to produce timely films and documentaries that tell the true story of Israel and the Jewish people. 
  • Pray that evangelicals will do their part individually through social media and emails to pass along good news and facts about Israel.
  • Pray that God will alert Christians to rising propaganda against Israel and equip Christians with courage to oppose it.

What a powerful alliance the evangelical-Israeli partnership continues to be. Let us always hold fast to this certainty: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times. She hosts her devotionals on her website at

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Single Mother: Natalya’s Story

She didn’t know where to turn. Natalya’s younger son had been diagnosed with autism. She was told he’d never speak properly or develop normal social skills and would need a lifetime of care. Distraught, Natalya’s husband eventually packed up and left—and then her son began having psychotic seizures.

The boy would hurt himself so severely that Natalya had to admit him to a psychiatric hospital, which insisted she stay with him constantly. Unable to work, she lost her job as a nurse and the bills quickly piled up. Then came the last straw; when she couldn’t pay the rent, her landlord insisted that she leave. Homeless, she had to rely on the good graces of people who could give her and her boys a place to stay at night. Life was precarious, and she was desperate.

Thankfully, the head of CBN Israel’s family department learned of the single mother’s plight. He settled her debts, located an appropriate facility for her son’s condition, and found them a better place to stay, where she had no fear of walking outside in the dark. Natalya’s new peace of mind let her return to work. On top of that, she received monthly food coupons and school supplies.

Your gift can be a blessing to so many single moms, like Natalya, providing them with groceries, housing, medical care, financial aid, and job training. You can also give these moms hope and encouragement as they seek to give their children a bright future. Please join us in reaching others!

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Weekly Devotional: From Slavery to Servanthood

“For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 25:55 NASB).

In the Exodus from Egypt, God freed the children of Israel. He liberated them from slavery and bondage.

Freedom. We all want to be free. Countries all over the world celebrate freedom and independence. Even within the Church, we celebrate our freedom; in fact, we make that a central theme of our appeal to others: Come to Jesus, so you can be free.

But God didn’t liberate Israel to give them independence. He liberated them from being slaves in Egypt so that they could be His servants: “For the sons of Israel are My servants.” He freed them to serve Him.

It’s like the old Bob Dylan song says: “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Jesus said practically the same thing. In fact, Jesus did not speak about our freedom and independence when we come to Him; rather, He spoke about His followers as God’s servants.

The kingdom of God is not a democracy. God’s reign is mentioned for the first time in the Bible in connection with the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 15:18). And, as the passage from Leviticus indicates, He freed them to be His servants. Redemption is about Him first and foremost, not us. He is the King. The Bible embraces this worldview: God is King; we are not. We are His servants, and He makes the rules. We follow them.

Such an ideology cuts against our contemporary culture of my rights, my freedoms, and my individualism. Even within the Church, our spirituality often takes on a very egocentric outlook: Salvation is what God has done for me. No, redemption is what God does. It’s about Him.

He redeems us to serve Him. We are His servants; our will is to do His will. Think about that for a minute. Do you orient your day around doing His will? Do you seek His will and think about your life in light of His will?

The reality is that we will serve somebody. Will we be found to be faithful or foolish servants?


Father, I submit my will to Your will; may Your will be done in everything I say and do. You are my Master and my King. Amen.

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Torah Reading Commentary: Cain’s Sin

By Mark Gerson

What was Cain’s sin? Everyone who has heard his name will give the same answer: murdering his brother, Abel. Of course, that is right. But if that were Cain’s only sin, there would not have been a Torah passage about it. The Torah, as our guidebook, helps us to address eternal challenges—those that many people deal with in every generation. Just as the Torah never tells us to love our children, the Torah does not specifically warn us against killing our siblings. We love our children—and do not seek the death of our siblings—without any special guidance. Therefore, the story of Cain and Abel must arouse sins we might commit, problems that we struggle with, and issues where we need God’s guidance. 

What might these be? The answer starts with Cain’s job. His profession, we learn in Genesis 4:2, is as a “worker of the ground”—a farmer. That was his paying job. But he had another job that proved to be much more important. And it is a job that we all have: Cain was a philosopher. 

Cain, we are told in Genesis 4:3, brought an offering of fruit to God. Cain’s younger brother, Abel, emulated him and also brought an offering. Abel’s was of the “firstlings of his flock and from the fattest.” God “turned to Abel and to his offering but to Cain and to his offering he did not turn.” God offers no criticism of Cain, just praise for Abel.  

This was time for Cain to do his job as a philosopher. How would he respond? He could have burst with pride for Abel, his kid brother who followed him so faithfully that Abel’s offering earned the delight of God! Cain could have followed this pride in Abel with the most productive kind of sibling competition. Cain could have praised Abel for bringing such a good offering and thanked him for the lesson in how to express love, gratitude, and appreciation for God—and brought a better offering next time. 

But that was not Cain’s philosophical disposition. Instead, God’s reaction “annoyed Cain exceedingly, and his countenance fell.”

God had a lesson for Cain and for all of us. There is nothing theoretical, abstract, or academic about philosophy. Our performance in our job as a philosopher will determine the quality of our relationships, our decisions, and ultimately our lives. 

“Why,” God asks Cain, “are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen?” In other words: You did not have to respond with sadness, jealousy, and resentment. You made a choice—and now, explain it to yourself and to me, as well.

God then suggests that Cain “improve” himself. “Sin,” God says, “lies down at the door, its desire is toward you, and you can conquer it.” At the door—not in the house. In other words, Cain has not yet sinned. But his philosophy is bringing him close to sin, which is now a real threat. Cain responds by killing his brother. 

Why does Cain murder his brother? I won’t presume to be able to definitively answer this question at the heart of one of the Bible’s seminal moments. Instead, I will suggest several possibilities. 

First, God is learning about His creation. Some might object to the notion that God, who is omniscient and perfect, should have to discover truths in His world by observing what people do in it. God learns and changes throughout the Bible. In fact, we will learn in Genesis 6 that God observes “the wickedness of man,” and that this causes him to “reconsider having made man on earth.” This brings God “heartfelt sadness.” We are created in God’s image, and we would not do anything intentionally that would bring us “heartfelt sadness” later—particularly such an irredeemable sadness that would cause us to “reconsider” the whole enterprise that brought the sadness. God learns then and throughout the Torah. His learning, and changing, is part of what makes Him perfect—and a good reason why He is the source of our ultimate emulation. 

Perhaps, then, God was wrong in telling Cain that sin was only “crouching at the door.” Cain had already sinned. Having the wrong philosophy can be a sin. As ancient Jewish teaching instructs, “One mitzvah (“good deed”) leads to another mitzvah, and one sin leads to another sin; for the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the ‘reward’ of a sin is a sin.” Cain’s sin of murder follows his sin of covetousness. And covetousness is a sin: It constitutes the Tenth Commandment. 

Maybe, then, God should have been more direct with Cain and made it clear that he had already sinned. The sin, God could have clarified, was not in his offering. In fact, that was a mitzvah. The sin was in his philosophy following God’s reaction to Abel’s superior offering. Still, one should not be too hard on God here. He shows Cain that his philosophy would at least lead to sin and that should be enough. Cain could not have pleaded ignorance, nor did he. 

Indeed, one would think that such a stark warning from God—your philosophy has brought sin dangerously close—would at least give Cain pause. But Cain does not seem to have even contemplated this warning, and he certainly does not act on it. There are no grounds for believing that he was impetuous, impious, or mentally ill. The evidence is that he was just a person. And this, the Torah is showing, is typical behavior. 

How will we react when our ideas are invalidated by evidence—the closest that we’ll probably come to a direct and unambiguous challenge from God? We like to think that we will change our minds. But Leon Festinger would have disagreed. Leon Festinger was a 20th-century psychologist who studied the reactions of end-of-the-world cults when their doomsday predictions did not come true. These people did not, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, reevaluate their philosophies. Dr. Festinger concluded, “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree, and he turns away. Show him facts and figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” 

A 2006 study from Emory University psychologist Drew Westen showed why. When people were placed under a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and their philosophies were confirmed, the pleasure receptors in their brains lit up. It would have been unenjoyable and unnatural for Cain to react (as we can see from our vantage point as readers) the way he should have. 

This leads to the third lesson from this story. Are we all Cain? In the sense that we might murder our siblings if they annoy us: no. But in a deeper sense: absolutely. Each of us is a philosopher. We might be, like Cain, a farmer—or a businessperson, a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a policeman, or a plumber. But we are also philosophers. And, like Cain, our job as a philosopher is much more important—in the most practical ways—for how we live than any other occupation. 

What kind of philosophers are we? Again, Cain teaches us. It does not matter if our philosophies are the product of rigorous contemplation or thoughtlessly drawn from our environment. We are all stubborn philosophers. Even when it is obvious that we should change—even when God himself effectively tells us, even when the world doesn’t end on the date that we swore it would—we are unlikely to reconsider our philosophy.

This sounds pathetic and maybe even depressing. In a vacuum, it would be both. But God tells Cain—and in so doing, is telling us—“Sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.” It might be natural for us to stick with our philosophy, regardless of any evidence. But so what? God gave us the ability to think, which means we can acknowledge our weakness, override our nature, change our philosophy, transform ourselves, avoid sin, and in so doing walk in God’s ways. 

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who (along with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson) is perhaps the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is the co-founder of African Mission Healthcare (AMH) and the author of a forthcoming book on the Haggadah: The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.  

Twitter: @markgerson
Podcast: The Rabbi’s Husband


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Red Alert: The 15-Second Window

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The dreaded yet familiar alarm sounds outdoors and on mobile phones. Several pedestrians sprint toward a bomb shelter at a bus stop. A dad stops his car, jumps out, and dives into the back seat to cover his children. This is not fiction. It is reality for Israeli civilians living in the 50 towns and communities along the 32-mile border with Gaza in southern Israel’s western Negev. The alarm, known as the Red Alert, warns of incoming rocket attacks—and that they have just a 15-second window to find shelter before the explosive lands.

When working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), I staffed nine trips to Israel for Christian leaders hosted by AIPAC’s foundation. A day trip south was always important on the agenda. We talked with citizens and officials, visited bomb shelters and kindergartens. In the border town of Sderot, we saw a collection of Qassam rockets that fortunately had exploded in fields. In 2018-2019 alone, Palestinian terrorists fired more than 2,600 rockets into civilian Israeli populations near Gaza—sometimes hundreds a day. 

These attacks created a “see-saw” kind of life for Israelis living in this region. Qassam rockets are inexpensive, and although wildly inaccurate and indiscriminate, the rockets generate widespread chaos, fear, and deaths. On one of our trips, a mother shared: “If my husband is away from home, I’m afraid to take a shower. What if the Red Alert goes off? I must save my two young children.” 

The Qassam rocket barrages are terror favorites whose frequency has forced Israelis into three wars to defend their citizens, homes and businesses in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014. Relative quiet follows afterwards for a few years when residents enjoy a somewhat normal life. In between, though, terrorists continue to “invent” more webs of trauma for Israeli parents, children, and the military. In addition to firing off rockets, terrorists have turned kites and balloon “bouquets” into weapons that can float explosives over the border. The resulting fires blacken thousands of acres of Israeli crops. Ashes replace vegetables, charred land replaces green leaves, and the color black replaces fertile golden sands. 

On another trip, a kibbutz member showed me a big, beautiful cucumber. Pointing to the fence between Gaza and his kibbutz just steps away, he said, “Right over the fence, no crops are planted. The Palestinians could be growing fertile crops for their own people, but they don’t.” His observation says a lot about the difference between the two peoples. 

While inventing airborne terrors, Palestinians ruthlessly used child labor to help dig underground tunnels into Israel. The tunnels were big enough for men to swarm through like killer bees. Thankfully, the IDF has since discovered and destroyed these tunnels. For months during 2018 and 2019, border terror exploded near the Gaza/Israel fence. Thousands of Palestinians set tires ablaze, with thick black smoke pouring over the border every Friday—just in time for the Jewish Sabbath. On one occasion, the number of protestors burning tires and throwing firebombs climbed to 20,000. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was forced to use live ammunition to fend off the attacks. 

What have Israeli civilians in the western Negev done to deserve this way of life? It is quite simple: the Jews exist.

Israel is often accused of oppressing Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians. In fact, not one Jew remains in the Gaza enclave. In 2005, more than 8,000 Jewish people were unilaterally forced to leave their homes and businesses in Gaza, removed by their own IDF under orders from then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Knesset. At the time, Israel’s leaders hoped that leaving behind thriving businesses like greenhouses would help employ the population. They hoped Palestinians would create a prosperous “Singapore on the Mediterranean.” Instead, Palestinians destroyed almost everything left behind—including the greenhouses—and then elected the terror organization Hamas. Members of Hamas are the “occupiers,” the true oppressors. Unfortunately, the people’s vote invited destruction—with a death knell to their own freedom and prosperity and setting Israel up for more terror attacks. 

Here are stark facts about Hamas’s dictatorship. More than 70% of Palestinian Arab Gazans are poor. Electricity is unreliable. Water is not potable. Hamas weapons are purposely stored in apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals since the terrorists know Israelis will not intentionally bomb civilians. Meanwhile, the terror leaders travel on private planes and live, for the most part, in luxurious five-star hotels located in other countries. They line their pockets with riches as they divert investments donated to bettering the lives of Palestinians in Gaza. As Saudi political analyst Abdel Rahman Al-Mulhem bluntly stated last week in the Arabic newspaper Al-Yaum: “Palestinian leaders stole the aid sent to the Palestinian people and built mansions in Washington, Paris and London, while ignoring the suffering of their people.”  

Despite these truths, the broader blame for Gazan woes is almost totally aimed at Israel, using slander and lies. Yet, even during violent border demonstrations, balloons, and rockets, Israel sends tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

While the Israeli Red Alert app helps save lives by giving a 15-second warning about incoming rockets, it cannot prevent the post-traumatic stress that is rampant among Israeli families, especially in the south. The injustices and emotional distress unfortunately succeed in producing this often-debilitating condition. I personally think Israelis suffer a more intense form of PTS. I call it “Perpetual” Traumatic Stress. 

Adele Raemer has lived on Kibbutz Nirim—about a mile from Gaza—since 1975. She is a mother, grandmother, and multi-talented counselor and teacher. I asked Adele, who is a Facebook friend, to share some perspectives for this column. She moderates an important Facebook group called “Life on the Border.” Adele has become a well-known, passionate advocate for all who live next to the terror enclave. In 2019, she was the first Israeli to testify before the U.N. Security Council, and did so at the invitation of Kelly Craft, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Here are her thoughts today: “Living in Israel is a blessing, but it is also very challenging. Living on the border, about a mile away from the Gaza Strip, is ‘challenging on steroids.’ When it is only yourself, that’s manageable (mad as that may sound). When you are responsible for the safety of numerous young children, or of an elderly parent on a walker, or a disabled person, that ups the stress considerably.”  

While some communities are only steps away from the Gaza border, Adele points out, “As we like to say around here, our lives are 95% heaven, 5% hell, because … although terror could happen … at any time of the day or night, most of the time we enjoy clean air, beautiful fields, and forests. We live in communities that are virtually free of worries of traffic and criminal activity.” 

Indeed, despite terror and perpetual traumatic stress, Israel’s culture of life, tenacity, and the ability to rise above the worst hatreds and evils demonstrates strength in the midst of sorrow. Israel’s example during tragedy and trauma is a valuable lesson for all of us—about choosing to live not as victims but as victors. It is inspiring. 

Israelis are experts at drawing good out of bad, which often ends up blessing the world. For example, Israel is now a world leader in traumatic stress treatment that helps heal broken bodies and spirits.  

Adele sums up her outlook for our readers: “Until the situation of their lives over there [Gaza] changes, the safety of our lives and homes remains at risk. Peace can only come to Israel’s south once Hamas allows Gazans to thrive instead of perpetually investing in terrorism. Until they have something to live for, something they will not want to lose, they will only have reasons to die for.” 

Join CBN Israel in praying for the people of Israel, especially families and communities on the frontlines of terror:

  • Pray with thanks for the bravery of Israelis living adjacent to Gaza and for their general well-being. Pray especially for children who have known nothing but terror since the day they were born.  
  • Pray that the many Arab nations, disgusted with Hamas and its sponsor Iran, will help change the Hamas terror reality.
  • Pray for increased security measures from the Israeli government and additional bomb shelters from the private sector worldwide. 

Here is a fine Bible verse to pray all week and beyond for our Israeli friends: “Fear not, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My right hand of rightness and justice” (Isaiah 41:10).

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit twice. She hosts her devotionals on her website at

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Victims of Terrorism: Anna’s Story

When Anna’s husband told her they were moving to Sderot, she panicked. They had a baby girl, and the city was a target for bombing attacks. She liked living in Ashkelon, where they had settled after immigrating to Israel from Belarus. Life had been peaceful, and though her husband didn’t share her Christian faith, they attended church together.

But her husband’s family pressured him to move near them in Sderot, and he stubbornly insisted on it. They moved into a moldy basement apartment there, with no windows or walls. For her, it was like a prison, and she fell into a deep depression.

Then her husband began studying Islam, which worried Anna. By now, she was not allowed to work, and was confined at home with their children. The constant terror attacks and fear of her husband left her feeling trapped and paralyzed. And then, Anna found help.

Friends like you provided her with free counseling at a center that partners with CBN Israel. Rina, a professional psychologist, helped pull Anna out of her deep depression and anxiety. We also supplied Anna with baby food and diapers. Soon, her husband let her attend Rina’s church, and she ventured out more with the children. Despite the sirens and rocket attacks, her fear has lifted. Anna is grateful, saying, “If it were not for Rina… I would have had a severe breakdown.”

And CBN Israel is extending God’s love and humanitarian aid to many like Anna, who face overwhelming challenges in the Holy Land. For aging Holocaust survivors, young families, and immigrants, your support can be a lifeline. You can offer them groceries, financial aid, housing, and more. Please let us hear from you today!

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