JERUSALEM, Israel – Hundreds of Christians travel to Israel each year to help farmers harvest crops. This additional help is not only appreciated, it also fulfills Bible prophecy.
A volunteer Christian group called Hayovel, which means Jubilee in Hebrew, provides volunteers to help Israeli farmers bring in the grape harvest.
“We’re a group of Christian volunteers from America and from Canada and from all over the world,” David Johnson, a Hayovel, volunteer explained.
“We’ve come to help the Jewish people, specifically in Samaria and Judea, usually referred to as the West Bank,” he continued.
The vineyard is in Ofra, not far from biblical Shiloh. More than 300 volunteers worked 30,000 man hours to bring in nearly 400 tons of grapes across Judea and Samaria during the last three months.
“You get to see the thankfulness on the owners’ faces when you help them out,” Hannah Pauls, a 15-year-old volunteer, said.
Zach Waller directs Hayovel. His parents came up with the idea as a way to serve Israel about nine years ago.
They hoped actions would speak louder than words to help repair relations between Jews and Christians caused by 2,000 years of persecution.
“Dad said, ‘Hey this is an opportunity that we have as believers in Yeshua, Messiah, that we can come and serve and try to restore this relationship,'” Waller said.
But they discovered they were actually fulfilling Bible prophecy, such as Isaiah 61:5 and Jeremiah 31:5: “You will see nations coming to the land, working in the vines, helping the Jewish people.”
Local Jewish resident Aaron Lipkin sees the Christian love as a healing ointment. He said everything that is happening is a big miracle, it’s part of a process called redemption.
Team leader David Johnson oversees about 30 volunteers. This year is the third season for he and his wife.
“We have a heart for the Jewish people settling the land of Israel and it’s a heart that we’ve been given by our Messiah and we’re here to help them,” he said.
They work hard. They also worship and declare Scripture.
“We thought, hey, you know, we should set up some kind of prayer shifts so that somebody’s praying while they’re working,” Waller recalled.
“So we sent guys to go pray and we actually ended up picking twice as much that day than normal. And that touched vineyard owner Rafael Kadmon,” he said. “I happy very much because when we work, we sing, we see the man is very, very happy.”
Rick Pauls said he feels so strongly about the work that he brought his wife and children to pick grapes for a second year.
“We feel very protected by God and by Israeli security,” Pauls said. “It’s amazing to be here because as you read the scriptures here in this place it just comes alive.”
His wife Karen called it an opportunity to give, but she said the biggest impact was just meeting the Jewish people.
“Their faith is absolutely unbelievable. No one has been untouched by something pretty intense in their life, losing someone, and they just believe,” she said. “I mean it’s not for fame or glory, it’s hard. And they just believe in the promises of God.”
Her son said the experience for him has been equally as powerful.
“Just being here has blown me away,” he said. “Just being able to serve the Jewish people, to enhance His kingdom here on earth.”