The killing of unborn children through abortion is a great evil in Israel today. In ancient Israel the prophets issued many stinging indictments against the rulers and the people, but none described the anguish in God's heart so much as Jeremiah's pronouncements against those who made their children "pass through the fire" to Molech and Baal. Against this sin and no other we read of God's bewilderment over the depravity of His people. Three times the Word of the Lord declares against this sin: "which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination" (Jeremiah 32:35, see also 7:31, 19:5). The hardness of Israel's heart was no surprise to God (see, Deut. 31:16-21), but that they would do such wickedness evidently was.

Today we all recoil in horror at the idea of parents sacrificing their children on fiery alters, yet every day thousands and thousands of children are being killed in their mothers' wombs through abortions. In Israel today, a country of only 7,000,000 people, each year approximately 140,000 babies are born, but 40-50,000 babies are aborted[1]. That is approximately 25% of all babies conceived!

Tents of Mercy opened a pro-life counseling office in 1999. Last December our daughter congregation, Katzir Asher followed suit. Guy and Tali Cohen had known since their congregation's inception that this was a ministry God was asking them to pursue. Their focus had understandably been directed towards establishing the new congregation in Akko (see, "Harvest of Asher," Oasis June '08), but a personal tragedy compelled them to implement the Lord's call.

A young woman and her boyfriend discovered they were going to have a baby. Both their families were connected to Guy and Tali's family; both their families pressured the young woman to have an abortion. Wherever the young woman turned, the advice was the same, "you are too young to have a child, abort it." The young man was in favor of keeping the child, but because of the social pressure upon her the young woman went ahead with the abortion. Because of their conflict over the issue the young couple parted ways and as a result, the dejected and despondent boyfriend committed suicide.

Two lives were lost, two families were broken. Guy and Tali only heard about the situation after the tragedy occured, but it shook them. "What might have been the outcome if we could have talked to her?" If only someone had offered this woman the facts and had presented an alternative to the delusion that abortion is an easy way out of difficult circumstances. Perhaps the joy that a baby brings would have replaced the sorrow both families now suffer. "If only" is not an effective way to respond to events. Action to change the future is the way to react to tragedies in the past. Guy and Tali knew they needed to provide their city with an alternative to the abortion lobby.

Enter Vered

Vered at the entrance to the "Lilach" office
Vered made Aliyah 13 years ago. She began her new life in the Kriyot and became part of the Tents of Mercy congregation. Almost immediately after coming to Israel, Vered heard God's voice calling her to intercede for Akko. She did not know where the city was. She had never heard of Akko before, but in the Spirit she saw an old city with walls and gates on Israel's coast. Vered researched Akko's history and discovered that from ancient times it had been an important Phoenician seaport. Allotted to the tribe of Asher, Akko and all the seacoast north of Mt. Carmel remained Phoenician territory until the Assyrian invasions and the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. Here too, children were offered in sacrifice to the Phoenician god, Baal.

Despite the wicked history of the city, Vered sensed God's intention was to show mercy to Akko, much like He did with Nineveh as recorded by the prophet Jonah. Seven years after moving to Israel, Vered at last visited the city. She now saw with her physical eyes what she had been seeing in the spirit. She met Guy and Tali and recognized two kindred souls burdened to see God's kingdom grow in this city that had known so much darkness. Four years ago Vered made Akko her permanent home and joined Katzir Asher Congregation.

Before moving to Akko Vered had been one of three ladies that pioneered the pro-life work at Tents of Mercy. It was only natural for Guy and Tali to recruit her as the new pro-life worker. So last December, Guy gave up his office and a "Lilach" pregnancy conseling office took its place. "Lilach" means "from me to you" in Hebrew. It is also the word for the Lilac flower. There are seven other Lilach counseling centers around the country - all under the auspices of Be'ad Chaim (Israel's pro-life organization). To date seven women have chosen to keep their babies after meeting with Vered.

Offering A Helping Hand

Vered's counseling strategy is to give women the facts about pre-natal development and the consequences of abortion for the mother. Of course the goal is to see the baby saved, but Vered does not concentrate on the morality issue. Vered explained that most women she meets have many unanswered questions and appreciate the opportunity to talk about their pregnancy without feeling pressured to make a decision to abort their baby. "We offer physical support, but emotional support is really what women are seeking. They have so many questions and no one else to talk to - everyone else tells them, 'just abort the baby.'"

Should women decide to keep their baby, Be'ad Chaim can offer practical assistance through their Operation Moses program: "Operation Moses gives every mother who considered an abortion (but kept the baby) all that she needs for the first year of his or her life. This includes a baby bed, changing table, stroller, and bath delivered to her house once the baby is born. We also provide monthly diapers/formula for the first year of her child's life and visit her on a regular basis."[2]

One Woman's Story

Vered showing off her baby supplies
Seemingly out of the blue, Ronit[3] called Vered and asked to talk. She had been a believer some 10 years ago but had left the community of faith. She was now a single mother with a young child and had two previous abortions. She was pregnant again. Ronit was embarrassed to say why she wanted to talk to Vered but in the course of their conversation Vered understood Ronit was contemplating having yet another abortion. After talking with Vered, Ronit decided to keep the baby. She has been enrolled in Operation Moses and is due sometime in the fall. Vered and Ronit stay in touch and she is trying to find her way back to following Yeshua. Please pray for her.

Please also pray for Vered. It is no surprise that in a city where so much innocent blood has been shed over the millennia that the spiritual forces of darkness actively oppose those involved in this work. Vered asked if folks would pray for her protection, for wisdom in counseling and that God would raise up a local team of intercessors to support the work. Vered suffers from debilitative back pain; please lift this matter up in prayer as well.

Akko is a city with a tragic history. Held under the pagan influence of the Phoenicians, it became the gateway for invaders into Israel from Alexander the Great to the European Crusaders. Babies were sacrificed here and over the years wars and invasions have stained the ground with blood. Despite all this cruelty God is raising up a congregation of believers in Akko that stand for life. That women now have a place to support them in choosing life for their unborn babies is a hopeful sign that Akko's history is about to change.

1 - Be'ad Chaim figures for 2007

2 - Excerpt from Be'ad Chaim websites (www.beadchaim.com/operation-moses)

3 - Not her real name

 

By Marty Shoub


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Comments:
15:58 08Jul09 Mary Natasha Amiella -
I was inspired to read this article. I used to be active in Montreal Pro-Life in Canada and my former mother-in-law used to be head of Birthright in Montreal - an organization in North America doing work very similar to the ministry in Akko. I am going to print out this article for my ex-mother-in-law who is a Roman Catholic. I think she will find it to be inspiring too.

19:30 20Jul09 Denis Hollands -
At Beth Shechinah in Calgary, Canada, we talked about the prolife issue. We need to have a face for prolife like granite to help the life giving women and men.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: The Dilemma of Liberalizing Theology
Eitan Shishkoff: Wrestling With Tisha B'Av
Developments on the Highway