March 19, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
Today, I bring you greetings not from Jerusalem, but from Brazil! I’m very pleased and proud to be here with my wife, Joelle, to meet with pastors, speak at churches, visit with Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer and other government leaders, and bring The Fellowship’s message of support for Israel and bridge-building between Christians and Jews to an entirely new part of the world.
When I started The Fellowship more than 30 years ago, I naturally focused the organization’s bridge-building efforts on the U.S. This made perfect sense: Besides being my home at the time, the U.S. is the country with the largest Christian population in the world, and the second-largest population of Jews.
Nonetheless, I have always believed that The Fellowship’s message of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and of raising Christian support for Israel, is universal. The Fellowship has a role to play anywhere there are Christians longing to know more about the Jewish roots of their faith, or anywhere there are Christians and Jews who want sincerely to work together to support the Middle East’s only democracy – Israel. So we expanded into Canada in 2003, and launched our Spanish-language ministry several years later. Then we became a truly global ministry by opening offices in Australia and South Korea.
So, why expand into Brazil? Well, first and foremost, it has the second-highest population of Christians in the world, and the population of evangelical Christians here is growing by leaps and bounds. And, as I have seen in so many other places, the Christian community here feels biblically tied to Israel, and has a deep hunger to learn more about the Jewish roots of their faith. They want to come to Israel and experience firsthand the biblical sites they have only read about – and we are excited to find out how we can work to help facilitate what we hope will be a new wave of visitors to the Holy Land from Brazil.
Fortunately, Brazil has close relations with Israel, and, unlike some of its neighbors, has been a good friend to the Jewish state. Yesterday I met with Vice President Michel Temer, and I will also be meeting with members of Brazil’s National Congress, working with them to build political support for Israel, as well as fulfilling our core mission of strengthening Christian ties with Israel and the Jewish people.
I have felt so blessed and encouraged by the warm reception I have received here from pastors, their congregations, and from government officials. At one church, I told a congregation I felt like Jacob experiencing God’s unmistakable hand in a foreign land, and exclaiming, “Surely the LORD is in this place!” (Genesis 28:16). I am eager to see what God does on the rest of this trip, and how he opens new doors for The Fellowship in Brazil. As always, I ask for your prayers, friends – for this new venture, for safe travels, and for God’s continued hand of blessing on The Fellowship, on Israel, and on His people – both Christians and Jews – around the world.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President