One organization has decided to focus on the root of financial challenges facing Messianic families so they can help get themselves get out of – and stay out of – economic distress.
“Initially, we focused on helping families of single parents with economic problems, but we soon realized that the financial issue is just the symptom of something much deeper,” said Arik Pelled, head of the family department in E.L.Y. Israel, the Israeli branch of CBN. “We are now trying to help people to overcome obstacles and problems and help them raise the bar.”
Pelled’s department focuses on helping Messianic families in financial distress. In business and in charities, it is often easy to just “throw money at the problem” and hope it goes away. But Pelled is convinced that it’s not enough.
“We give them financial guidance, we help them build a budget, and we give them charity and loans when needed,” he explained.
Besides helping families already in economic trouble, they are also working on prevention: One way is through a course, Chazak ve’Ematz (Be Strong and Courageous). This project is intended to help young people pick the right profession and plan wisely for the future. The other, Lev Lesharet (A Heart to Serve) is a project designed to train pastors and deacons on how to help congregational members in distress.
Chazak ve’Ematz, a four-day course on how to pick a profession, took place in January. They intended it not only for young people, but for anyone at a career crossroads. Unlike secular alternatives, this is a service by believers intended for believers and included topics like “how to live out your faith in the workplace.”
The course included how to know your rights and how to use them, how to write a CV and how to get ready for job interviews. Under certain circumstances, participants could be eligible for E.L.Y. Israel’s help in financing the studies needed to receive a license in their chosen profession. This was the third year in a row that they conducted this class.
Lev Lesharet is training for pastors and deacons to handle “taboo” subjects through a series of lectures running from October 2019 to March 2020. The lectures include family budgeting, coping with grief, loss, and death, handling economic crisis, collection enforcement, the process of bankruptcy, how to understand peoples’ souls, domestic violence and another one dealing with personal growth, thinking patterns and forgiveness. All lectures are delivered by professionals in their field.
“I couldn’t believe I was living in this bubble, and I was just judging without understanding,” one participant said. Another one said that he only now understood that he had been using “I will pray for you” as a copout way to avoid offering practical help.
“Our goal with all of this is to empower and strengthen the body of believers in Israel,” Pelled said. “If you strengthen the families, you strengthen the community.”