From the Ashes to Life

By Valerie Yanay

“To grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified”. Isaiah 61:3

One of our core values in our community is devoting our time to helping the broken and needy in our society. It is an integral part of our lives as well as our discipleship training programs. We head to some of the poorest neighborhoods of Tel Aviv to share God’s love with the most needy in society on the streets, in an area notorious for prostitution, drugs, and human trafficking. Many believers from the area and members of our congregation are actively involved in offering food and comfort to Israel’s most destitute population.

When we take young people as part of our discipleship training, they are not always enthusiastic and often feel apprehensive as we head to these unfriendly places where people’s behavior and smells can sometimes disgust us. As followers of Yeshua, we consider it vital to have a heart for those who live on the streets. Every week during our discipleship programs, we join Moti Cohen and are present on the streets. Moti also cooks meals for the needy. Since the war began, Moti was called up on reserve duty so Tal from our community has been cooking every week for those on the streets. In our community, we aspire to faithfully serve all the needs of those who ask.

Last week, I headed out once again to the streets, this time with the youth from our moshav where our teens, ages 14 to 18, distributed hot drinks and warm clothing to those living on the streets. While walking around with my group of young people, I recognized some familiar faces. To my surprise, after five months of not being on the streets, I could still recognize faces. These people have been living on the streets for years. We met Muslims, Christians, and Jews, all ‘united’, so to speak, by the street. One of the most obvious was a Muslim who told me: “Here, between us, there’s no war. We have the same thing in common. We have nothing left.”

With the teens, we shared God’s love and sowed seeds of hope. Hope inspires us, and fills us with joy as we wait for our Savior to work.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24

Twice we’ve been able to see them rise up out of the ashes. During an outing two years ago, we were able to witness new life of a young man on the street. We urged him to get off drugs and find life. A few months later, he finally decided to go to the Beit Hayeshua rehabilitation center with Roni, and his life changed. He got off drugs, restored relationships with his family, and still lives in the rehab center while actively serving in the congregation.

I firmly believe that God can bring forth new life from the ashes. This belief has brought me the greatest joy in my 30 years as a believer – witnessing resurrections burst forth in those who accept the Lord. He transforms and changes the lives of those who were spiritually dead, having experienced things that lead to death. I long to see more lives being changed and genuinely believe that it is possible for every life that appears truly dead to undergo this miraculous transformation into life.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and if I live, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; if I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

From the ashes to life. When a fire occurs and sweeps through the forest, it not only burns but also releases essential trace elements that the Earth needs for regeneration. The resulting ashes, rich with the remnants of decomposed organic waste, act like a natural fertilizer, encouraging new life to grow and flourish. 

Israel emerged from the ashes, following the horrific genocide against the Jewish people in Europe during the Second World War, known as the Shoah or the Holocaust. In 1948, those who survived fought and reclaimed their ancient homeland. Life literally rose from the ashes of the bodies burned in the Nazi camps. Hebrew is also a language that experienced a resurrection from the dead. Once a dormant language, it came to life again, spoken by an entire nation, infused with vitality, literature, and poetry.

What God accomplishes through our inner death is more beautiful than anything we can construct on our own. Death brings forth life with God when we submit to Him and let Him guide our paths. Let’s remember this wonderful truth and embrace it anew every day with our brothers and sisters.

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