I received a note this month from a dear donor who has been witnessing to a Jewish friend of hers, and was very thankful of the sayings and things in our newsletter that she has used over the years to connect with her friend. She has walked with her friend through some tough things in their lives, and recently, she received a note from her friend sharing that she had planted a tree in Israel in her honor.
January brings the Jewish festival of Tu B’Shevat. It is the new year for trees, and is often the catalyst for Jewish people planting trees in Israel. Following the end of World War II and the liberation of the concentration camps, many Jews migrated to the then British mandate of Palestine. They found a land much bleaker than they expected. The “land of milk and honey” had become the land of sand and strife. So these settlers formed kibbutzim, small cooperative farms, to reclaim the land, and they began to plant trees. And following the U.N. vote to establish the State of Israel and the subsequent war, the new nation began reforestation projects that Jews around the world participated in as we planted trees in Israel to commemorate almost anything. Trees usually cost $18.00, the numerical equivalent of the word “Chai,” which means life, and the maxim, “Where there’s life, there’s hope” became associated with this reclamation project.
Of course, when we think of trees, it is hard not to remember the anecdotal saying of Luther, “If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today!” Whether Luther said this or not, he certainly reflected this attitude of life and hope. So this is a great time to share your faith with your Jewish friends. You can still, believe it or not, plant a tree in Israel for $18.00! If you go to the website http://www.treesfortheholyland.com, you can plant a tree in someone’s name and send them a certificate. Include a note to your friend sharing the fact that you have planted a tree in their name for Tu B’Shevat (or any other occasion you can think of!), and end the note with “Where there’s hope, there’s life.” Then, if you’re led to, say “Y’shua is the way, the truth and the life!” (Yes, I did get it backwards for where our hope is is where life is. Maybe your friend will notice the difference and call to ask why and then you can share this truth.)
By the way, Anne Frank got it backwards too. She too said, “Where there’s hope, there’s life.” Yes, while there is life, there is hope. But our greatest hope is that many would truly find life, and life eternal through faith in our Messiah, Y’shua. And I would love to hear your stories of hope! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).