Celebrating 40 years of service to Israel and God’s people – ICEJ in 2020
by Christine Douglass-Williams
The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) is celebrating an their 40th anniversary in 2020, capping four remarkable decades of tireless labour in service to Israel and God’s people.
Young adult Arise Summit
The centerpiece of the anniversary celebrations across Canada kick starts with a Young Adult ARISE Summit and speakers at Westwood Community Church in Coquitlam, BC at the end of April.
The history of the Christian Embassy is an inspiring one of growth, faith and God’s loving faithfulness. God inspired through Canadian musicians, Merla and Merv Watson; it all started in the summer of 1980 when the Israeli Parliament declared the city of Jerusalem to be the undivided, eternal capital of the State of Israel as established by King David almost 3,000 years earlier. Under the threat of an Arab oil embargo, 13 embassies moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. A number of Christians living in Israel, including the Watsons, were hosting a Christian celebration during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. They sensed Israel’s deep hurt over the withdrawal of the foreign embassies and felt the call of the Lord to open a Christian Embassy. In obedience, they followed His call and now, 40 years later, ICEJ has branches and representatives in over 90 nations with an outreach in 170 nations, making the ICEJ the world’s largest Christian Zionist organization. It continues to serve as a conduit of comfort and love in accordance with Genesis 12: 1-3 and stands as a prophetic voice to this generation concerning God’s unwavering plan to fulfill His covenant promises to the fathers of Israel.
The Canadian branch is also a miracle. Donna Holbrook, National Executive Director of ICEJ Canada, was inspired by her late aunt Harriet Black to be involved, and resurrected the work of ICEJ Canada in 2001 just as the former entity closed. “Aunt Harriet” as she is lovingly known to all, was a visionary, a Zionist who received the prestigious Order of Canada in 1985 for her dedicated community work.
Donna, with the support of her loving husband Richard, built up ICEJ from their Toronto home. Richard passed away last spring but his legacy lives on.
Love and support
In this special 40th year, ICEJ enjoys the fruits of decades of practical works of love through unique and unprecedented services, including assisting Jews making Aliyah. To date, ICEJ has assisted over 150,000 Jews return to their homeland. ICEJ also operates a Holocaust Survivors Home in Haifa, the first of its kind, caring for 80 Holocaust survivors by providing them with lodging, food, and free medical, dental and overall loving care. Working with Israeli authorities, ICEJ’s Aid programs provide social assistance and food for needy families, orphans and children, as well as for others affected by trauma and terror. ICEJ also has a unique historic relationship with Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust Centre in Jerusalem, forming the Christian Friends at Yad Vashem in 2006.
Confronting anti-semitism and educating Christians
Critically important is that ICEJ confronts anti-Semitism worldwide through: accurate news reports and education, generating free daily and weekly news briefs via email, radio, and television. In Canada, regional teams offer free educational seminars for churches on Understanding Israel.
ICEJ is proud to educate Christians about Israel’s unique calling and the social and political challenges it faces. Best known for hosting the annual Christian Feast of Tabernacles, ICEJ draws thousands of pilgrims worldwide to Jerusalem for worship, prayer, teaching, touring and magnificent fellowship.
ICEJ witness has not gone unnoticed
ICEJ’s tireless work has won praises and endorsements from Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who declared: “There are those who still deny the history of the Jewish people in this land. What these people refuse to say, you declare with pride, without hesitation, without reservation. Thank you for your moral clarity. Thank you for your solidarity. Thank you for supporting the one and only Jewish State.”
Jerusalem’s former Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Not everyone in the world seeks the best for Jerusalem. There are people who challenge our history. Sometimes we feel alone. But with courage we stand here. And your friendship is warming our hearts. I want to thank you for your prayers and your unprecedented support and passion.”
Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister from 1977 to 1983, also praised ICEJ: “Your decision to establish your Embassy in Jerusalem at a time when we are being abandoned because of our faith was an act of courage and a symbol of closeness between us. Your gestures and acts gave us the feeling that we were not alone.”
ICEJ’s unconditional and tireless work on behalf of Israel has helped bridge a very large historic chasm between Jews and Christians, forming an abiding accord in a world that is experiencing a disquieting new wave of anti-Semitism.
For more information on ICEJ, our work and Israel tours visit: www.icejcanada.org.