Inside View Jul/Aug 2012
I rejoiced in the Lord as I flew home recently from Israel after leading our first adult-volunteer Hesed Project trip. In the two weeks our 13 team members worked at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, God blessed the Hesed ministry in many ways beyond my expectations.
Taking our lead from the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mt. 20:28), we served others. Of course, you don’t need to go all the way to Israel to do what we did. There are many opportunities in local churches, hometowns, and other parts of the world.
But what makes Hesed unique is its focus on serving the Jewish people. God said, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:3); and His promise is as valid today as it was when He spoke it to Abraham.
We named the adult-volunteer pro-gram the Hesed Project because hesed is a Hebrew word used frequently in the Old Testament to speak of loyal loving-kindness. Volunteering one’s time, resources, and energy is a tangible way Bible-believing Christians can bless and show loving-kindness to God’s Chosen People.
In the evenings, after returning from work, we took time to study hesed in the Bible. In one lesson, we learned hesed pays back hesed. For example, in Genesis 24 it is recorded that Laban showed hesed to Abraham’s servant by granting permission for Rebekah, Laban’s sister, to return with the servant to Abraham’s land so she could marry Isaac.
Little did Laban know that, years later, Rebekah and Isaac’s son Jacob would return to bless Laban. When Jacob came looking for a wife and met Rachel, Laban’s daughter, he spent 14 years working for his Uncle Laban. Before leaving, Jacob asked Laban’s permission to return to his grandfather Abraham’s home. Laban testified that God had blessed him through Jacob, for he had little when Jacob arrived but had become a prosperous, wealthy man (30:27–30). Hesed pays back hesed!
The greatest act of hesed in all of history was the solemn day when Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay our penalty for sin. It is because of His hesed that 13 people became volunteers in Israel through The Friends of Israel. We were returning hesed for the hesed Christ bestowed on us.
However, during our two weeks at Kaplan Hospital, we also learned God was rewarding us with hesed for our volunteer work through the friendships and acquaintances we made with the Israelis we worked with each day. It was endearing to hear them say, “Thank you for coming!” They recognized we stayed despite missiles from the Gaza Strip that were raining down on Jewish communities just a few miles south of Kaplan.
Some asked why we came all the way from the United States, at our expense, to help them. What a wonderful opportunity they gave us to share about our hope and the love that lives within us for the Jewish people.
One conversation particularly caught my attention. Minutes before we departed Kaplan after our last day of work, an Israeli walked up to Chris Katulka, one of our team leaders, and said, “Thank you for coming. You need to come back and teach us to love like you!”
All of the Hesed volunteers left Kaplan feeling so much more blessed than when we came. A blessing for a blessing, just as God promises—but so much more abundant than we ever imagined. We arrived in Israel hoping to bless the Israelis, but we did not foresee all the rich and wonderful blessings we would receive in return.
The next Hesed adult-volunteer trip is scheduled for February 22 to March 9, 2013. The Hesed Project is open to Christians 18 years and older. I pray God will lay upon your heart a desire to become a part of this wonderful ministry to bless the Jewish people.