In one of the villages where our teams have been delivering supplies (name withheld for security reasons), the Russians are gone, but the scars are left behind. A number of residents were executed, and many others remain missing. Attempts to dig for graves to determine who the victims might be are being hindered by the fact that so many land mines were left behind. Natalya, a 36-year-old woman in the village said, “If there was a hell, it was here.” These are people your love and generosity are helping. The food, generators, and supplies we deliver are the only help many of them are getting as the war drags on.
The decision by NATO and the U.S. to send battle tanks to Ukraine for the first time is a huge boost to the military. But for the millions of refugees who are shivering and starving, it is little comfort. The scope of the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine is beyond anything we have seen before in our lifetimes. Michael will be going to Ukraine again in just a few days to deliver the next load of food, warm blankets, winter clothing, and generators. This massive relief effort is only possible because generous friends like you have provided the resources for the outreach.
This week, Russia’s former president, Dmitry Medvedev issued a stark warning: “Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends.” As nations in the West provide Ukraine with more advanced weaponry to defend their country, the Russian advantage is decreasing. Having a major political figure and Putin ally talking openly about escalating the war to a nuclear conflict is terrifying. The people of Ukraine are suffering enormous hardship from the continued Russian attacks with conventional weapons. That is why we are doing so much to help—to provide food, warm clothing, generators, and more—at this time of danger and desperate need.
Not long before my father died, told me that he had dreamed he held some black stones in his hand. His grandfather had given them to his father who then gave them to him. When he tried to pass them along to me, they became white stones in my hand. He wanted to know what that meant, and I replied that the Good Father had broken the generational curse. I would never know those curses, nor would my son or his son.
The following Friday, my grandson Michael David Evans III was born. He will never endure the curse that plagued my family for generations. The power of God has overcome the power of the past. And that power is available to every child of the Good Father.
Over 200 times, the Old Testament describes God as the Lord of hosts—a military term for the angel armies. David used this term more than anyone, and with good reason. David said, “The Lord of hosts is with me.” In Hebrew, the word host means “an army ready and poised for battle.” David also said, “I am kept. The Lord keeps me.” The word kept in Hebrew means “to hedge about as with thorns, to guard, to protect, to attend to.”
The Word of God is true—trust it more than anything else. Believe me when I tell you that your Good Father is much closer than you think. Believe that He is more committed than you think. And believe that God is more ambitious for your life than you think.
What is God saying to you today? Can you hear Him? Listen, He is saying, “Will you allow Me to be the Lord of hosts in your life?” Many Christians do not have a philosophy by which they live—no objectives or goals. One positive thing I can say about my life is that I am focused. When God tells me to do something, nothing in this world can persuade me not to do it. Why is that important? Because many people miss the blessings of God by allowing themselves to be distracted. They stop focusing on God and turn their attention to something else.
What was your first memory of your father? My father was away from home a lot, and when home he was all too often in a drunken rage. When I was a small child, we moved into the Projects, Duggan Park, at Paige Boulevard and Godwin Street in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. The buildings had been erected in the fall of 1951, mostly for veterans returning from World War II and who had little income.
My father did not believe I was his son and violently abused me, two times almost killing me. The second time, I awoke in a fetal position covered in my own dried vomit and crying out, “Why was I born?” My first thoughts of God were exactly the same as those of my earthly father: an angry, mean, judgmental entity whom I could never please and who would just as soon cast me into hell as not. When you have no memories of a good father, how can you embrace Father God and trust Him to be a Good Father?
Hopefully, you have not endured the physical or emotional pain that I have. You may, however, have experienced rejection and been wounded. It may be difficult for you to view God as a Good Father. My prayer is that God will open your eyes and spirit to how beloved and cherished you are by Him…and how He never fails to be a Good Father.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2).
For most of us, the name Bethlehem immediately summons images of a manger and shepherds and a star shining brightly in the night sky, guiding visitors from far away eastern lands. Many hear the words Phillips Brooks, rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia penned in 1868 following his return from a visit to the Holy Land.
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless streets
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The Everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
Few places in all of Israel better illustrate the lengths to which the enemies of the Jewish people will go to deny the truth of their heritage in the land for thousands of years than the fate of Bethlehem. This obscure village in Old Testament days became famous because it was the home of King David. And in fulfillment of prophecy, Bethlehem is where Jesus was born about 1,000 years later.
The name Bethlehem means “house of bread” in Hebrew, and it is located not far from Jerusalem. It is fitting that the Bread of Life would be born there to a young virgin named Mary who had made the lengthy and difficult trip from Nazareth with her espoused husband, Joseph, because they were both descendants of David. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem marks the spot where, according to tradition, Jesus was born.
But today, most visitors to Israel who go desiring to see the places where the important events of Scripture happened do not visit Bethlehem. The city is in territory controlled by the Palestinians, and the danger of attack is so high that many tours of the Bible lands no longer include a visit to the birthplace of Jesus. Many of the Christians who once lived there and in other areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority have been forced to move because of the threat of violence.
In fact, the number of Christians of various denominations living in Palestinian areas is estimated to have declined approximately 90% in the last century, with most of the change happening in the recent past. Today, the letter “N” painted on the outside of a house (symbolizing the residents are followers of Jesus of Nazareth) is often the precursor to vandalism or even a violent attack.
Yet because Bethlehem is currently under Palestinian control, the claim is often made that Jesus Himself, therefore, is a Palestinian rather than a Jew. This outrageous falsehood is declared publicly without shame (and too often without rebuttal from those who know better) by Palestinian leaders. At the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference—a gathering of liberal religious groups that harshly criticize and oppose Israel—Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that Jesus would not have been allowed to attend “simply because he was a Palestinian.”
Those who deny historical Jewish links to this land God promised to Abraham thousands of years ago are either ignorant or deliberately deceitful. This land is essential for Israel’s security and self-defense. It is not part of a historic Palestinian state, for there has never been one. Israel did not conquer Palestine; they defeated the forces of Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967 after Jordan had illegally seized the land during the War of Independence launched by Israel’s Arab neighbors in 1948.
Earlier this year we launched our Save the Bible Lands campaign to declare our support for the recognition of Israel’s right to the Bible lands of Judea and Samaria. The Jewish people who live there are not occupiers of enemy territory. They live in Israel. Land for peace has been proven to be folly because so many Palestinians do not want peace. They want Israel destroyed. Every friend of freedom and every friend of the Jewish people should stand with Israel when it comes to control of the Bible lands.