It is hard to believe that only a week ago, we celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. The Jewish year of 5783 came to an end and the Day of Atonement (Yom HaKippurim) will begin in a few short hours. When the Fall holiday season ends, our thoughts will turn towards the coming secular year of 2024. Nowadays, when one mentions Israel, the first thought that comes to mind is somehow related to politics. Discussions abound as to the rights and wrongs of decisions being made by the current Israeli coalition – a topic beyond the scope of this update. But if we will be honest, the political discussions here extend far beyond our borders and affect communities worldwide. There isn’t a country in the world that is not in some way being impacted by a Spirit of the Age that leaves all of us wondering, ‘What does the future hold?’.
The verse that drives our ministry is Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
Yet with this promise, we must remember that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). We are so thankful for this. Our hope is not based on principles of law or a political party. It is anchored in the light and life of Yeshua our Messiah! He is with us regardless of the situation, and He will continue to guide us with His enduring truth.
These thoughts fill our hearts with thankfulness as we consider what God has been doing through A Future and A Hope – not just in the past year – but since it was established. We are so glad we don’t know the future. If we knew now what would be written on the blank pages of our future, it would destroy the joys of the present. When we first set out, little did we think that our ministry would include lectures and seminars in both the secular and believing communities, the publication of children’s educational materials now being widely disseminated throughout Israel, and meeting the needs of dozens of women who made a choice for life. All we wanted to do in the beginning was to be a voice in the wilderness offering women facing a crisis pregnancy an alternative to abortion, and then honor their decisions for life by helping them through that challenging time. But now, despite many challenges, including, among other things, a pandemic, political chaos, and battles with illness among our limited staff – God did exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could have imagined – All the Glory to God our Savior!
The First Year of Life Program and Beyond
For many women, our First Year of Life Program has proven to be a “game changer.” It was and remains an effective incentive in helping abortion-minded women make decisions for life for their pre-born children. The goal of the program is straightforward, as we explain to the expectant mothers that we want to help relieve the mother and family of the financial burden associated with a newborn for the first year of the child’s life. As such, A Future and A Hope undertakes to provide all the newborn’s essential needs; everything is delivered to the mother’s apartment by the time she arrives home from the hospital. We continue to supply diapers of all sizes, as well as a financial subsidy each month for the entire first year, as well as food baskets. Despite the many difficulties faced this past year, the First Year of Life Program has provided repeated opportunities to share the Gospel with the women, many of whom were and remain open to the good news and some of whom have made decisions for eternal life through Messiah Yeshua.
Part of the First Year of Life Program now includes a food distribution program, which has proven to be successful far beyond what we had anticipated. In the beginning, we purchased for the clients of A Future and A Hope and then arranged for its delivery to the recipients. However, as time passed, we learned that it would be much more effective and appreciated if we allowed the recipient to contact our food supplier directly. The clients are now able to order what is specifically needed for their families up to a certain monetary limit, and we reimburse the supplier directly. In a few cases, this has made the difference between eating and not eating daily for some of the families.
We had around two dozen participants in the program during 2022 and expect to have at least the same number in the program by the end of 2023, possibly more. There is a constant turnover; as the First Year of Life Program for one mother comes to an end, another mother is added to take her place.
However, it is important to stress that when the First Year of Life Program ends, we make every effort to remain involved in the lives of our clients and do what we can to encourage them and help out with essential needs. Each family faces unique struggles and the needs vary from family to family. We continue to provide diapers until the baby is potty trained, sometimes into his or her third year. We also provide additional financial assistance based on specific needs. For example, if the father has lost his job, or the family has fallen into debt and is facing having their electricity shut off. One family in that situation accumulated an electric bill that had reached NIS 18,000. The Lord graciously provided, and we were able to pay it for them. They gratefully wrote to us that for the first time in a year, they could fall asleep without fearing that they would wake up with no electricity. In other situations, we provided essential furniture, a washing machine, orthopedic sneakers, and even dental care.
Counseling is ongoing and continues beyond the first year, as needed and requested by our clients. When needed, we also continue to provide special holiday food baskets in the same manner as detailed above.
Update on Workshops and Seminars
We have given an increasing number of workshops and seminars on pornography and sexual predators both to local congregations and at national conferences, the latest of which was in a large congregation in Jerusalem on Saturday, September 23rd (see photos). The need for information in these areas of sexuality and sexual harassment and harm is great and we are making every effort to provide useful tools on how to deal with these matters. We are also providing training on sexual abuse for congregations geared for all levels of needs, including congregational leaders, parents, youth leaders, and teens. An essential component is helping them develop protocols to safeguard against sexual abuse.
This year we also participated in two conferences specifically for organizations that provide humanitarian assistance. We were able to share with them many instances of how we help families facing a crisis pregnancy and financial distress. We were able to display our books and pamphlets and distribute them free of charge at both conferences. (see example of booklet display)
We continue with the workshop program for children that helps them understand the impact of the words they use, and how and where they use them – whether verbally in a face-to-face interaction, or written or in a video via social media. These Social Responsibility Workshops explore the different types of common social interactions they could face. By presenting them with different situations, in advance, the children discover how they would react in particular situations. As a result, the children are challenged to compare their response with their relationship with the Lord, and how that can impact others as well as themselves. In one such workshop, the children had to verbally express how they would relate to seeing someone shamed or bullied on social media. The response was quite positive and helped them discover that although just “kids,” they, too, had a responsibility for their behavior and what they said before the Lord and as part of the Body of Messiah.
National Prayers for Life Initiative
An international organization asked A Future and A Hope to take part in a proposed joint initiative with another organization in Israel to encourage congregations and individuals to pray for life during the ten days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. We readily agreed. Each day focused on prayer for a particular subject and included devotionals and prayer points. The list of subjects for prayer and devotionals included the following:
- Each One’s Part in the Fight for Life
- Government and Laws
- Pregnancy Centers and Medical Field
- Communities and Leaders
- Education System and Teachers (devotion written by Orit)
- Fathers (devotion written by Marvin)
- Soldiers and Students
- Children and Babies
The other devotions were written by different individuals in Israel. Feel free to download and use this booklet to help with your own prayer for Israel and A Future and A Hope.
There is a strong demand for Hebrew publications within the Messianic community to educate children and youth on sex, sexual health, and purity. As a result, we have completed a second printing of the first two books.
We published the third book (110 pages) of this five-part series a couple of months ago, and the supply is almost depleted. We have been greatly encouraged by the responses of parents and congregational leaders who are asking for more copies of all the books. Due to copyright issues, reprints involve a lot of red tape and are costly. As a result of the demand for these publications in different languages in Israel, we have received permission from the publisher to translate all five books in the series into Hebrew, German, and Arabic. The fourth in the series will soon be translated into Hebrew – over 200 pages. Hopefully, it will be available in 2024, and then we can focus on translating the fifth and last book in the series. The earlier books are in the process of being translated, first into Arabic and then into German.
We have also published a fourth book dealing with adoption in the Arab-speaking community, written by a member of our board. It is in great demand and we are looking forward to a second printing.
We also published a fifth book translated from English to Hebrew, to the believing community: “Good Pictures Bad Pictures – Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.” This book has been well received. We were told that it has even been used in a discussion with teenage boys. We are considering an additional printing of this book.
A sixth publication is a devotional in English for expectant mothers within the Israeli believing community, written by one of our counselors, which we distribute along with the other publications mentioned. We hope to translate and publish this also by 2024.
Praising God for Decisions for Life
Space does not allow retelling the stories of all the women who have come to us. We hope these pictures help. Each of these children was born into a challenging situation to parents who have experienced horrors beyond our imagining. Each infant represents a decision for life, a decision to face the future with hope. And we pray that each child will one day represent decisions for our true hope in Messiah. We can only plant the seed, but we ask you to pray that God will water it and that one day, all of those who come to us will no longer be clients but eternal sisters and brothers in Yeshua.
For those of you who are new to praying for and supporting A Future and a Hope, we thought you would like to know a bit more about the faces behind what we share.
- Marvin Kramer is the legal advisor and spokesman for the organization.
- Orit Kramer is our general manager, senior counselor, and workshop coordinator and speaker.
- Hanni Kramer, Marvin and Orit’s daughter, is based in Jerusalem. Her responsibilities include conducting workshops, translating books and other materials, and writing much of the materials used at the workshops. She leads the workshops on safeguarding, sexual harassment, bullying, shaming, and online safety.
- Irena Gorohov is a multi-lingual counselor with the organization. (She has recently had serious health issues. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for her health.)
In addition, there are many brothers and sisters in the believing community who help out with everything from advice to house repairs. One elderly sister in a local congregation even makes it a point to regularly donate diapers and adds them to her shopping cart each week!
We have been praying for the Lord to bring us an additional staff member to help with the counseling. An increasing number of women are turning to A Future and A Hope for advice and subsequently making decisions for life. As a result, the workload for Irena and Orit is quite heavy. An additional counselor would be a blessing for the ministry in many ways.
Thus Far the Lord Has Brought Us…
As 5783 comes to an end, we are deeply grateful for all the Lord has accomplished through our labor, your prayers, and your gifts. To support this ministry, please see the information provided at the end of this newsletter, or visit our Donations page.
Ongoing Prayer Requests
- For the health of our staff and their families, particularly Irena
- For protection from spiritual forces of wickedness and jealousy for our staff and the women and children whom we help
- For continued open doors for effective service
- For ongoing financial provision to meet our expanding commitments to the new mothers
- For open hearts of the women seeking our help, for new decisions for life – physical and spiritual
- For ongoing financing for our book projects
- For Israel and the societal, religious, and political environment that are contributing to the moral apathy and sin throughout the nation – and affecting the Body of Christ as well.
We would be happy to hear from you. If you have a comment about this Newsletter, please drop us a note (Prov. 15:23).
Bless, be blessed, and be a blessing.
Marvin S. Kramer (for us all)