Table in Tel Aviv

    A large young lady was moving right towards us down the street.

    This was Lola. She was dressed strangely, wearing her underwear on top of everything else. While we were distributing food and drinks, she started pouring water all over herself from large bottles, taking a "shower" and changing clothes. Our volunteers exchanged glances, but in this world, where everything is upside down, you can see anything… Coming even closer to our food distribution table, Lola started brushing her teeth. At this point, the senior volunteer of the team urged her to "respect the place" where we serve. Crossing the road, she got into a skirmish with another addicted girl. On the street, quarrels and fights begin so quickly that we often ask each other, wondering: "Why did they start all that?" Soon the second girl had an abrasion on her arm; it's good that there was no bleeding, so we approached her and treated her hand with iodine. Again and again Lola come up to us, then ran across the road, shouting something to someone, shaking her fists...

    In the morning we agreed that we would offer and distribute some bijouterie we had brought with us. Girls are always happy to receive such gifts and love to adorn themselves. Volodya, one of the volunteers, handed Lola a necklace, choosing the most stylish one. At first she got embarrassed, then put the necklace on and started looking at herself in Aviv Center’s window like in a mirror. Having received our sincere compliment, she suddenly changed. The aggression seemed to evaporate and Lola began talking about her mother. Maybe she should go back to her? “Yes, of course!” - our volunteers reply. Lola added something quietly, bitterly regretting her "dirty life"...

    And we could see once again: kindness still works and leads to wonderful results!

    WhatsApp Image 2020 06 04 at 14.12.18

    By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    This picture was taken beside the overnight shelter that is situated not far from Aviv Center. Our volunteers from Jerusalem, who visit this shelter regularly, have told us that both during the strict quarantine and the last weeks of gradual return to normal life, many addicts from here decided to start rehabilitation. Many of them are still in the rehab, doing quite well.

    This Monday two more addicts from the shelter went to Jerusalem rehab. For the first one, Alexander, it took some time to get ready, and the volunteers were helping him make this important step, while he was throwing his cigarettes and, perhaps, some more dangerous stuff into the trash can near the shelter.

    “You know our rules, don’t you?” - quietly, friendly, but firmly asked our volunteer, Sasha.

    The guy nodded. It was touching to see that before getting into the car he handed the food box he had received from us over to a guy who was still sitting on the pavement near the trash can.

    The second person, Max, left the shelter and came almost running to the car, ready to go. In each of our two cars there was one empty seat and now they were both occupied by our brand-new rehabilitants! “Let them occupy all the seats but the driver’s!” says Igor, another volunteer, ”We’ll get home somehow”.

    Today both guys are in Jerusalem rehab. The first days are very difficult, especially for Alexander. Please pray for them!

    By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    Praying near the table

    Restrictions are gradually being removed, and more and more volunteer groups are returning to serve in Aviv Center. They stand and feed the visitors not in the Center itself, which is still prohibited, but at the entrance to it.

    They also recall the most "restricted" times when they could come only in pairs and distribute the food on the streets. One day they stood at the checkpoint for an hour and a half in a line of those who wanted to enter the city. The police did not allow many cars to enter. But when the volunteers said they were going to feed the homeless and showed an official paper from Aviv Ministry, they police immediately let them pass! There was also a period (during the strictest quarantine) when no one was able to come for three days. The volunteers who finally managed to break through, saw that the street people simply threw themselves on the food, so hungry they were!

    Today everything was organized according to the new rules, in disposable tableware: a nourishing meal with salad, hummus and a warm large pita bread. The volunteers prepared the lunch boxes themselves in the early morning and came to Tel Aviv at 9 am. Coffee and water were poured into disposable cups and distributed. People took the food and set on a bench or parapet to have lunch, although many just set on the sidewalk.

    The volunteers also walked through the streets, distributing the boxes. While a person was eating, they had time to tell him about their lives, about salvation and about God's love: “After all, He sent us to you, please understand and accept!” Today many pairs of socks were distributed, and the street guys and girls rejoiced to receive such a simple gift…

    The pita bread that remained in the end of the shift was brought to the overnight shelter nearby. "Please, enough with this life!" - Igor said to the guys in the semigloom of the dingy rooms of the shelter. And then told us: "It is so painful to look at them… Keep praying..."

    Evening pic

    By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    On Monday nights, when Aviv Center, as always, welcomes and feeds its visitors, a separate team comes from Jerusalem specifically to walk the nearby streets. This is like an evening round in a hospital – to see the patients and find out how they are doing.

    This Monday we met Yan. He stood against a wall and, as soon as he had seen us, spoke excitedly:

    - I was in a Christian center, but left it. I thought that everything was already ok with me. But the addiction quickly returned. Knowing the Lord, I can’t stay here, please help me!

    - We have one seat in the car, come on!

    - I'll just take my bag, one moment.

    But Yan disappeared for a long time, so we had to move on. We talked and prayed with a guy who was sitting right on the sidewalk, and then went to a homeless shelter nearby. In the evenings you can always find people there. We shared about God's love and salvation and invited them to Aviv Center.

    Finishing the round, we unexpectedly met Ella, the mother of an addict whom we helped once. She said that her son had been clean for eight months already.

    - How can I help him stay that way?

    - Only the Lord can help, tell him to turn to Christ. We will pray for him. And you need God just as much!

    Ella thanked us and promised to keep in touch. The round was over. It was time to go home - with Yan who showed up just in time! And we already though he had changed his mind… Pray for him – and for another guy, Sasha, who was taken to a rehab this week for the seventh (!) time. Previous falls and failures greatly undermine the hope of such rehabilitants for deliverance. But nothing is impossible for our God!

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