Israel-based Christian ministries dealing with emergency absorption of Ukrainian refugees and Russians immigrating to Israel
“They're coming with such an emergency, literally with one bag in their hand," says senior pastor Chad Holland
Chad Holland, senior pastor of King of Kings Ministries in Jerusalem, said when he first heard that Russia invaded Ukraine, he was immediately concerned about the Jewish people of both nations.
“We’re working as directly as possible with social services here in Israel, with the Ukrainian embassy at the same time, and with a few of our representatives in the military,” Holland said in an interview with Christian journalist Paul Calvert.
“We also were told that 200,000 Ukrainians are Jewish by lineage and have the right to make aliyah, that is, to move to Israel and become a citizen. So, we don't know how many will apply but what we were told is the first 10,000 are being processed now and we've already seen some of those families start to arrive.”
Holland said that the first wave of Ukrainian immigrants will likely “overwhelm the system for a while until we catch up.”
“But on our end, we’re looking at how can we help people both when they arrive here in Israel, and then how can we help people that are suffering still in Ukraine?”
Holland said he has been moved by the efforts of believers in Israel who have mobilized to help those in need of emergency assistance. The families arriving are being placed into host homes or temporary hotels while they’re being processed.
“We've been able to help primarily through our distribution centers,” Holland said. “People have arrived with nothing and they're coming to a country where maybe they don't even speak Hebrew.”
“When they arrive, they need clothes. They need blankets and jackets and shoes…food. They need personal hygiene items, toys for the kids. And so, we're providing these [humanitarian aid] packages for the families that arrive.”
“It's only made possible because of the generosity of King of Kings locally and the King of Kings members around the world. I'm proud of the King of Kings Network for how we've contributed as part of the wider body. But yes, I think we've been mobilized, we've been active. We've been as alert as we have been in quite a while,” Holland said.
Modern Israel, at just 73 years old, hosts a large immigrant population, with Jewish people coming from all over the diaspora. What’s different here, Holland explained, is that these immigrants are arriving urgently because of a military conflict.
“This is a little bit of a new twist for us. They're coming with such an emergency, literally with one bag in their hand. How do we help them at that point? It's a little bit new from that angle, but not new to the country because the country is primarily made up of immigrants.”
Holland does not think this is just a temporary need.
“I don't think it's going to be the end. I think this is really just the beginning of a long season in a major wave of aliyah. We're talking about Ukraine today. We're talking about Russia. But we understand that, soon, many from South America will start to come. And as anti-Semitism grows in the world again, I think we're going to see major waves of immigration and we want to be ready for that.”
Holland said that Europeans are increasingly concerned with the rise of Islamic communities and Sharia law.
“We've had immigrants come from all over Europe these last few years, and their concern hasn't been war. Their concern has been the rise of Islam and Islam going unchecked in their countries. And they don't really like the dynamic that's happening. They don't feel safe…So you have, again, the rise of anti-Semitism. You have a concern with Islam growing in Europe. You have wars, countries on the borders.”
Holland also believes that the Ukrainians arriving in Israel will need counseling and Israel is well-suited for the job.
“We deal quite often with the military campaigns, with being attacked and missiles fired and incendiary balloons released over us in tunnels dug on our borders. And these are terrorist acts. And we deal with them a lot. We have a great military.”
“But inside of Israel, military service is mandatory, both male and female,” he continued. It's very rare that our young adults have gone through their two and a half years of service – and then reserve service – without being in some kind of military conflict. And that comes with it, the need for trauma counseling; PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) counseling.”
King of Kings has three different counseling center locations and has been offering services to incoming refugees. While Holland realizes the ministry is not able to serve every person, he hopes they are able to make an impact, whether it be with a package of humanitarian aid, a hot kosher meal or personal counseling. Ultimately, he hopes that believers will reflect the love of Yeshua and remind them that God loves them and has not forgotten them.
Holland believes that God is using the Ukraine refugee situation to fulfill the biblical prophecy to bring Jews back to their homeland.
“Throughout history, we see an ebb and flow of what happens with Jewish people around the world when they are too comfortable in a foreign land. When they're too comfortable in the diaspora, typically some kind of pressure will be applied or will be allowed, even if it's not caused by God. And that pressure will remind the Jewish people of their one true covenant home, the land of Israel that was promised to them and their forefather, Abraham, the tribes of Israel.”
“On the one hand, we don't want war, we don't want conflict, we don't want death and violence. On the other hand, we see how God moves in strategic ways, even in these tragic moments, because those pressures applied – whether it be Islam or whether it be terrorism or whether it be anti-Semitism or war – those pressures are applied historically, and it causes a major wave of immigration back to Israel.”
Holland said the King of Kings Network is praying for Ukrainian refugees and their journey to safety, whether it be Israel or elsewhere. He urged others to pray for their “safe passage, a prayer for their families health along the way and a prayer that they wouldn't become embittered, that they would see this as a new opportunity, as tragic as it is for how many lives we are losing.”
Most of all, Holland says, he prays that God would use the current crisis to bring the Jewish people from Ukraine, from Russia, from Belarus or the surrounding territories and that they would "come home” and feel welcomed when they arrive.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.