Specialized Ministry — December 2007
The Specialized Ministry of Benevolence Ministry
(Ministry to Israel)
By Barbara J. Smith, Member, International Women’s Ministries Board of Directors
“I will bless them that bless thee” (Genesis 12:3).
I have always been fascinated by the unique relationship recorded in scripture between God and the children of Israel. One cannot read the historical account without being touched as God calls an entire nation that was not a nation to not only be, but to belong. Israel is revealed as the very “apple of God’s eye,” a people created for His pleasure, His own special heritage.
Perhaps the story moves me most because I know it is a revelation of another story, namely ours. Truly we are God’s special people! And, most assuredly we have been called forth to demonstrate to the watching world the infinite capacity of the God of this universe to love unconditionally. Nevertheless, our story does not reduce by any means Israel’s, for the nation of Israel still remains, without question, a nation that belongs to God. This truth is perhaps the single most important factor that moved upon the hearts of Michael and Gina Utterback many years ago to abandon everything they had known previously in life to give them unreservedly to the ministry of Israel.
For years now, the Utterback family has been devoted to helping Jews return to Israel, their homeland. This is a very specialized ministry of benevolence for no one anywhere can imagine the enormous sacrifices they have made and continue to make to help fulfill the end time Word of God. To date this Church of God family has helped over 90,000 Jews return to their homeland. But, you may ask, “Where have they come from?” I’m glad you asked!
Some 1,000 Jewish people have been assisted in moving from Argentina to Israel and more than 90,000 have been assisted in returning to their homeland from the former Soviet Union. Gina has spent many lonely nights in Israel while Michael has traveled across the Ukraine and other areas searching for Jews who want to come home. The process of return is far more complicated than it may seem. Sometimes, it takes years for a Jewish family to see the fulfillment of the dream to return to their homes in Israel. The Church of God specialized ministry of benevolence “Ministry to Israel” is a hidden secret of passion and pain coupled with power and praise that daily touches the hearts of an untold number of individuals wanting to simply “go home.”
Helping Jews return home, however, is not all they do at the Utterback house. The “lone soldier” program is a ministry that reaches out to young Jewish soldiers who have no one else to be there for them. Most of these young men and women left their homes from around the world to join the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to help defend the land of Israel for the children of Israel. Ministry to Israel daily reaches out to these soldiers with loving arms of compassionate care to help them through their difficult time. Michael and Gina stay with them and help reach out to them with love and care when they are emotionally troubled, financially strapped, and even when they are wounded in war. These soldiers often visit the Utterback home to see Mama Gina and Michael whom they know they can be safe with. This ministry is making a difference but more so, it is fulfilling the Word of God to bless the nation of Israel.
I know these are the “last days,” and I also know some very special “end time people,” namely Michael and Gina Utterback, that I would ask you to pray for today as they help us fulfill the prophetic Word of God!