In response to parents not knowing what to do with their children who had been sent home from closed schools this spring, Verses for Zion was born as an exciting, biblically rooted project specifically connecting Christian children to Israel, as an opportunity to engage them in a multigenerational project with parents and grandparents.
Now, as summer is starting and schools that had opened are closing again, Verses for Zion offers parents a way to add meaning and substance to their children's extended vacation.
Verses for Zion came together during the early days of the "coronacrisis" as the brainchild of an Orthodox Israeli Jew and an evangelical Christian pastor in Texas as a project of the Genesis 123 Foundation; to build bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians with Israel in ways that are new, unique and meaningful.
The goal is to give children the opportunity to learn more about God, His Word and His people, and connect them to His Land. It is a special opportunity to connect Jews and Christians, and Christians with the land of Israel, in a biblically rooted project. Verses for Zion also fills a need among even in the most pro-Israel families and churches by providing a tangible way to connect children with Israel that's scripturally based and age appropriate.
This year, Israel celebrates its 72nd anniversary of independence. This historic event is not just a milestone for Israel and the Jewish people, but for Christians and Jews together. Of course, modern Israel is important in current global events and international diplomacy. Children should understand that, even with all the complexities involved.
However, the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel is a direct fulfilment of God's promise, pointing to the fact that His Word is true, that He is faithful, and He keeps His covenant promises. Connecting biblical with modern Israel is every bit as significant to Bible-believing Christians as to Jews. As one parent wrote, thanking Verses for Zion for this innovative opportunity, it "provides a tangible way for Christian children to connect with this ongoing miracle. It entrenches their faith and deepens their understanding of God, the Bible and how that relates to us today through Israel."
Interest and participation are coming from all over the world, although for now the program is only in English. Yet accommodations are being made to include participants who do not speak English. People who would like to be involved with this in other languages are invited to contact Verses for Zion.
Especially with so many children at home, summer plans interrupted and parents looking to fill their time with productive activities, Verses for Zion is not only meaningful but worthwhile and educational. With the program open into September, it's possible to dedicate less than 10-15 minutes a day and complete the whole self-study. Children are encouraged to learn these verses with parents, grandparents, pastors and friends.
All children who memorize the 72 verses will be recognized as "Bible Heroes" on VersesforZion.com. Special gifts and incentives are also being offered to help motivate and encourage children to participate and to develop a deeper connection and understanding, including being entered for a drawing of a free trip to Israel.
Pastor Trey Graham, a member of the Verses for Zion Advisory Board and one of the visionaries behind the project, shared his excitement. "As we celebrate Israel's 72nd anniversary as a modern state, we have selected 72 Bible verses that describe the beauty and spiritual significance of Israel. As children memorize these verses, it will aid their understanding of God's Word and how Israel relates to us as Christians."
Hoping to engage as many people as possible, Verses for Zion also invites churches and other ministries to partner, creating their own "team" that will also be recognized on VersesforZion.com. Ministries are encouraged to adopt and share Verses for Zion as their own youth project. It can become part of a church's youth ministry or other church programming, in person or virtual, to create awareness of and a connection to the biblical significance of modern Israel.
To document their progress, from time to time the children are encouraged to upload videos of themselves reciting the verses, even teaching about the significance of these, to the Verses for Zion website and social media. The goal is not only to do this once but to provide an ongoing engagement with and connection to Israel and its significance.
Participation is free and meant for children 13 and under. The program is open until September. However, Verses for Zion offers a crowdfunding option, the proceeds of which will go to bless Israel and Israelis of all backgrounds through an array of projects including helping orphans and at-risk youth, blessing Holocaust survivors, comforting terror victims, feeding the hungry, supporting new immigrants coming home to Israel from the four corners of the world and much more.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He can be reached at FirstPersonIsrael@gmail.com.
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