This week’s article will be a little out of the ordinary.
When COVID-19 first struck, we were all hopeful that the restrictions would only last a short time and the world would return back to normal soon.
More than half of our staff got stuck in the United States, and to date, they are still unable to return to Israel. Just like all of you, we have no idea when Israel’s borders will open to foreign travelers again.
The Heartland Report is produced by HaYovel, a ministry based in Israel’s heartland. For sixteen years, HaYovel’s mission has been to serve Israel’s farmers. We have added programs, branches, and platforms over the years such as the weekly Heartland Report and the Joshua and Caleb Report podcast and TV show. Our core values, however, have never changed.
To serve Israel’s farmers, we have brought more than 3,000 volunteers from more than 30 countries to plant, prune, and harvest the vineyards of Judea and Samaria every year for the last sixteen years!
When COVID-19 struck, many organizations were able to pivot, create new projects, bring in new revenue streams, and not only survive, but thrive during these last six months. For HaYovel, however, our ministry is not just about thriving and bringing in revenue. It is a mission to serve the land and people of Israel. To enable them to thrive. To prosper. To grow. And they have! Thanks to all of you who have joined us for volunteer programs during the last decade, many of the farms here in Samaria have grown more exponentially!
This year, however, the farmers are worried. Very worried actually. Let me tell you a story that happened just last week.
Just before Shabbat (Sabbath) started here in Israel last week, I was helping my family clean the house when I happened to glance north across the valley. I quickly realized that there was a large cloud of smoke rising from the middle of the vineyards that are located right next to our facility.
Huge flames were just feet away from one of the vineyards, and the wind was blowing that direction! We quickly gathered our small team of staff guys and drove down to the vineyard to help. Thank God, by the time we had gotten there, the farmer had just finished putting the fire out, risking his own life by driving the tractor and mower directly on top of the flames.
After the fire was out, we began chatting with this farmer, whom we had not seen in a while. We began to ask about the harvest this year, since he owns and manages the largest amount of vineyards that we pick grapes for. It soon became clear that he is very worried about this year’s harvest. He said he is in deep, deep water, and he really has no idea how the grape harvest will happen. He relies on HaYovel volunteers to pick most of his grapes every year. He is exploring every possibility available to get his vineyards harvested this year, but prospects are unknown, to say the least.
This particular farmer is only one out of many who don’t know how they will harvest their grapes this year. They’re all worried about the situation.
If you are familiar with HaYovel, or have visited our website (www.ServeIsrael.com), you have probably noticed that our volunteer programs have remained open despite Israel’s borders being closed. That’s because we have been holding out hope that something will happen and Israel will allow foreigners into the country by the time the harvest begins. However, we are finally facing the writing on the wall. Unless something miraculous happens, all of our fall 2020 programs will not be taking place.
Whenever Israel does open up, never fear. Our volunteer programs will open as soon as possible, and we’ll keep on serving Israel’s farmers more than ever!
How will this year’s harvest happen? To be honest, we’re not sure. We have a very small team of staff here in Israel. We can assure you, if it comes down to it, we’ll be out in the fields every day during August, September and October picking grapes. However, we can only do so much. We’re also exploring every option available, along with the farmers, and we’ll definitely need your help, even if you can’t physically be here this year.
The prophet Jeremiah said,
“You will again plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria, the planters will plant, and eat them as ordinary food.” (Jeremiah 31:5)
The prophet Amos also said,
“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.” (Amos 9:14)
For the first time in 3,000 years, these prophecies are coming true in the land of Israel! Many of you have been a part of it over the last sixteen years. COVID-19, and the borders of Israel being closed, will not stop God’s word from coming to pass. Together with your help and God’s favor, the harvest will happen.
Please keep praying for Israel and HaYovel. The harvest is plentiful!