On June 14, 2006, a small group of us gathered in our home in Virginia to sign the paperwork and officially begin The Joshua Fund, to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. We gathered there with a few trusted friends who had already been praying and serving together in the Epicenter for several years. As our first board was founded that night, we expectantly asked the Lord to use us in a new way to be a part of what He was doing.
It is amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness since then. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
And in Jeremiah 33:3 we read, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
God has graciously answered our prayers “more than we could ask for or imagine” over the years (Ephesians 3:20). And we can ask and imagine a lot! He has opened incredible doors of relationships and opportunities and He has provided the people and resources to walk through those doors together.
Joel had been writing books since 2001 and the novels were generating an ever-growing interest from American and Canadian Christians who wanted to invest their resources to bless Israel and her neighbors. Joel would speak at a church or conference and people would persistently ask him how they could get involved in what God was doing in the Middle East. We began with two specific financial gifts given to us unexpectedly for the purpose of translating and freely distributing Joel’s book, The Ezekiel Option, which has a strong gospel message, into Hebrew and Russian.
As this fledgling organization began to plan its first projects, a war in southern Lebanon erupted. While Hezbollah and Israel fought in July and August of 2006, millions of civilians on both sides endured displacement and danger.
As we gathered several times at our home in that summer, it was clear that we should plan for a budget that would enable us to provide humanitarian relief, through believers, to those suffering in the region due to war, terror and economic hardships. It was first proposed that $25,000 would be a good start. But one of the women spoke up and said, “I think we need to trust the Lord for a million dollars!” We all looked at one another, realizing none of us had a plan to raise money like that. But we sensed that she was right, that we needed to rely on God for things only He could do. And He was faithful.
We sought the Lord to see how we might help bring the hope of Christ to people in distress. In what became the hallmark of our approach, we found trusted and experienced believers in the region whom we could invest in, pray for and encourage. The Lord has a remnant of His church even in the most difficult places and we need to be a part of strengthening what remains (Revelation 3:2). He is building His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
By God’s grace we were able to supply followers of Christ caught in the conflict with practical resources which they could use to serve their neighbors. We also sought to educate and mobilize the church in North America towards prayer for the region. We wanted people to know that there is actually so much good news in the Middle East. There are unknown heroes who every day endure the challenges and yet stand strong in the Lord as His light in the darkness. Despite the sorrows and fears in this complicated and unstable part of the world, “we who have taken refuge…have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19).
In just those first 3 months of The Joshua Fund’s existence, God taught us and shaped us in ways that we have clung to for 10 years.
- First, begin every endeavor prayerfully.
- Second, ask the Lord to build a team. In studying the gospels, the book of Acts and the epistles of the New Testament, it is unmistakably clear that Jesus modeled teamwork in His calling and leading the disciples in the Holy Land. We see that Paul and Barnabus worked with a very close team of believers as they travelled around the Mediterranean nations together.
- Third, humbly and quietly strengthen the Church as they serve their neighbors and love their enemies. This is not the ministry of any person or group of people, it belongs to the Lord. We should never, ever try to “make a name for ourselves” but only lift up His name.
- Fourth, rely on the Lord to provide for your every need. In faith, we have seen the Lord flood The Joshua Fund with partners in this effort without our even seeking them out! He has not only provided financially, but with His abundant grace in navigating the many “landmines” of ministry in a complex environment. He has sent gifted and servant-minded staff to join us as He has expanded this ministry. From our humble beginnings, The Joshua Fund now has a staff team that spans ten time zones!
- Fifth, expect the Lord to surprise you. How humbling and thrilling to realize day by day that God’s plans are higher and greater than our plans. We don’t know when a war will break out, but He does. We don’t know when a door of opportunity to serve will swing open, but He does. Sometimes, the smallest and most humble of endeavors on our part as His children are the most valued by Him.
Some of our favorite parts of the New Testament are the list of names at the end of Paul’s epistles. These people who are basically unknown were so dear to Paul. They had supported his ministry in prayer and in finances and in rooting him on in the faith. In the letter to the Romans alone, in chapter 16, they are called: fellow workers, beloved, hard workers, approved in Christ, kinsman, brothers, sisters, chosen in the Lord, helpers, saints and servants. This is how we see the whole Joshua Fund team that God has raised up, from donors to staff to members of our board to the partners in the field.
As we move forward into the myriad of unknowns in the next ten years, let’s keep clinging to what we know: God is faithful and He deeply loves Israel and her neighbors more than we ever could.
May He alone be glorified!
Would you like to make an investment in The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.net), this non-profit organization created to help Christians care for Syrian refugees, educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, care for the poor and needy in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) with food and other humanitarian relief, care for Holocaust survivors, and strengthen the Church in the epicenter. Read our latest Donor Report, and prayerfully consider making a tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution. Thanks so much!