“My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning - yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Ps. 130:6
HOLY LAND CHRISTIAN STATISTICS FOR CHRISTMAS 2018: Just in time for Christmas, the Israel Bureau of Statistics published figures on Christians living in Israel. According to the report, around 175,000 Christians live in the Holy Land, which makes them 2% of the population. Of those, 77.7% are Arab Christians. In 2017, the Christian population in Israel grew by 2.2%, in contrast to the shrinking Christian populations in many of the neighboring Arab states, including the Palestinian Authority. Most of Israel's Christians, 70.6% of them, live in the north of the country. Of the non-Arab Christians, 40.9% live in Tel Aviv and other central districts, and 33.8% live in the north and in Haifa. The cities with the most Christian inhabitants are Nazareth (22,100), Haifa (15,800), Jerusalem (12,600) and Shfar'am (10,200). (Israel Today)
A SEASON TO GIVE A SPECIAL GIFT TO JERUSALEM: As 2018 comes to a close we want to thank all of you who have given so generously throughout the year. We couldn’t have blessed the needy of Israel in so many diverse ways without you. For those who would like the opportunity to bless Israel before the year’s end there is still time for you to make a tax deductible gift before 31 Dec. 2018, according to the laws in your own country. Give generously at www.visionforisrael.com. For residents in the UK and outside N. America visit our website at www.josephstorehouse.co.uk. Please continue to help hands and hearts at VFI rebuild hope and provide for the nation’s poor both now and in 2019.
THOUSANDS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN BETHLEHEM WITH DWINDLING CHRISTIAN ARABS: Thousands of Palestinians and international visitors celebrated Christmas Eve in Bethlehem on Mon. night 24 Dec. 2018, in numbers not seen in years. When Israel handed Bethlehem over to the Palestinian Authority in 1995, it had "a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it's about 20%," Israel’s PM Netanyahu said in Oct. 2018. (Times of Israel) Intercede for the dwindling Christian community across the Middle East that has undergone immense persecution and trial under Islamic rule and terrorism in recent years. Ask God to protect those providing God’s Word and those engaging with it, especially amidst the threat of death or imprisonment for teaching and spreading the Gospel.
ISRAEL’S DEMOCRACY IS IN GOOD HEALTH: Israel now ranks 30th out of 167 countries in the Economist Intelligence Unit's annual survey of national democracies. It is sandwiched between France and Belgium. Since 2009, Israel has moved up seven places in the Economist Intelligence Unit's ranking of democracies. (Bloomberg) Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.
JEWISH GROUPS OFFER ASSISTANCE AFTER INDONESIAN TSUNAMI: Jewish groups are offering assistance in the wake of a tsunami in Indonesia that has left more than 400 dead and thousands homeless. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is providing emergency relief and assessing surfacing needs in the Kalianda and Rajabasa subdistricts of Lampung, a province on the southern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which was hard hit by the tsunami. Some 14,000 people also were injured in the natural disaster. The aid provided so far includes health services, clean water and supplies for survivors. Israel’s Foreign Ministry in a tweet offered “profound sympathies” for all those affected by the natural disaster, but did not offer concrete aid. Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and has rejected previous offers of aid. The tsunami hit last weekend without warning, and may have been caused by a volcanic eruption on Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island. Over 100 people are still reported missing. (INN)
HONDURAS PREPARED TO MOVE EMBASSY – FOR A PRICE: Honduras is prepared to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – but at a price – according to a report this week by Israel’s Channel 2. President Hernandez has dispatched a senior diplomatic team to Israel, which met with the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem. While the team expressed Honduras’ willingness to relocate its embassy in Israel, the diplomatic team added that it expected that Israel reciprocate with its own changes vis-à-vis its relationship with Honduras. Chief among the Honduran requests is the call for Israel to upgrade its diplomatic mission in Honduras by opening a full embassy. At present, Israel only maintains a consulate in Tegucigalpa. The cost of maintaining a full-fledged embassy has been estimated at one million dollars a year. Other demands include closer economic ties, as well as technical assistance from Israel. (Arutz-7)
NETANYAHU: ‘WE HAVE DEPRIVED HEZBOLLAH OF ITS ATTACK TUNNELS’: Israel’s PM Netanyahu on Tues. 25 Dec. 2018 toured the area on the northern border where the IDF has carried out Operation Northern Shield together with the other members of the Political Security Cabinet. The ministers heard reports of the progress of Operation Northern Shield and the situation in Syria from the chief of staff, the commander of the Northern Command and other senior officers. At the end of the tour, the prime minister said: "The IDF presented us with its actions regarding the neutralization of the tunnels. This operation is almost entirely behind us." Netanyahu added, "There is an extraordinary job here that has deprived Hezbollah of its use of weapon’s tunnels." Education Minister Bennett wrote on Twitter after the tour: "We had a thorough tour of Operation Northern Shield in the north. The direction is good, the forces understand the mission well, and we have to be creative and proactive in order to reduce Hezbollah's capabilities." (INN)
SUSPECTED ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE ROCKS DAMASCUS AIRPORT, HITS HEZBOLLAH TERRORIST LEADERS: A series of explosions rocked Damascus on Tue. night 25 Dec. 2018 as Israel allegedly hit Hezbollah and Iranian targets. A USA Defense Department official said Israeli sources had told him that a number of senior Hezbollah leaders were targeted as they boarded a plane for Iran. Also struck were strategic Iranian supplies to Hezbollah, including advanced GPS components for use in the many, many missiles that the Lebanese terror group has aimed at Israel. The Syrians said they had downed a number of aircraft, but there were no reports of any Israeli planes being hit. One Syrian air defense missile entered Israeli airspace, triggering Israel's air defenses. The IDF reported that the threat had been neutralized, but did not provide specifics. If Israel was indeed behind the airstrike, which Israel has neither denied nor confirmed, it was a clear message to Syria, Iran and Russia that the Jewish state would continue to take decisive action against threats to its northern border despite the recent installation of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems in the war-torn country. (Israel Today) Israel’s northern borders are endangered by numerous enemies. The strongest and potentially most dangerous are the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group - heavily backed by Iran – and Iran itself that is embedding its military resources in Syria. Iran has threatened numerous times to “wipe out Israel.” Continue to pray according to scripture: “Scatter the nations who delight in war.” Ps. 68:30
2,000-YEAR-OLD RING DISCOVERED IN JERUSALEM’S CITY OF DAVID: A two-thousand-year-old ring with a single gem stone was uncovered in archaeological excavations in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem. The ring was found by archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority in an ancient mikveh (ritual bath) on the Pilgrimage Road which dates back to the time of the second Temple period. According to one Authority source: "Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing, and sometimes forgotten. This phenomenon, perhaps, is behind the discovery of the ring. This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual’s personal story from 2,000 years ago.” The City of David is Israel's largest active archaeological site, situated upon the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is the place recorded in the Bible upon which King David established Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, and which remained the seat of the Davidic dynasty for centuries thereafter. The City of David is an Israeli National Heritage Site with over half-a-million visitors annually where some of the most compelling personalities and seminal events of the Biblical period unfolded. (Arutz-7)
ROOTS AND REFLECTIONS WITH BARRY SEGAL: Join Barry Segal in his biblically based travel program focusing on the reality of life in Israel. It's all about archaeology, history, the Bible, culture, music, the language, interviews, the food and humor. (See one and you will want to see them all!) Pray with us that many people will have their eyes opened to God’s deep love for the people and the Land of Israel through these programs. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated.
You can view VFI’s Roots and Reflection Program at the following networks and broadcast times: Daystar TV: Wednesday 9:00 AM ET (8:00 AM CT, 7:00 AM MT and 6:00 AM PT) also on Friday, 11 AM ET (10:00 AM CT, 9:00 AM MT, 8:00 PT). God TV Network:Monday 6:00 PM ET-GMT) also on Friday, 10:30 AM ET (9:30 AM CT, 8:30 AM MT and 6:30 AM PT. NRB TV: Thursday 8:30 AM ET, (7:30 AM CT, 6:30 AM MT, 5:30 AM PT).
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The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by JNN writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff