Joice was less than a year old when his parents fled Lebanon and settled in Israel. His family was just one of several hundred families Israel allowed to move to the Golan Heights when the IDF withdrew suddenly from Lebanon in 2000. As part of the Southern Lebanese Army, they had been Israel’s military allies. The change in culture, however, wasn’t easy, but the alternative was being captured and tortured by Hezbollah.
A year and a half ago, as Israel was enjoying a particularly rainy winter, an intense storm knocked down many trees all over the Golan Heights. Joice, who enjoyed the pastime of collecting wood for their fireplace, went out with his father to chop up the fallen trees. Their car was tiny so they took a load home and then went back to get the rest. By the time they returned for the rest of the wood, however, it had been taken.
Joice’s father said he knew of a guy named David who also liked to gather wood for his fireplace so they drove to his house and found the missing wood still in the man’s vehicle. When confronted, David was not only apologetic for the misunderstanding, he brought all the missing wood to Joice’s home and even added some of his own. Then they sat down for coffee and David shared his story. He was a Messianic Jew and there were others like him in the area. Having grown up a nominal Maronite Catholic, Joice was stunned and intrigued to hear that a Jew would believe in Yeshua.
“I didn’t know people like this existed,” Joice explained when he tried to describe meeting the Messianic Jewish members of David’s congregation. Within a few months of attending and learning what they believed, he gave his life to the King of the Jews. “Growing up, I never encountered discrimination as an Arab living among Jews. I had always felt comfortable in my school and my community. But I have never felt such a strong sense of belonging as I do in my congregation. We enjoy hanging out with each other during the week and we make a point to witness to people everywhere we go.”
Joice was first exposed to and fell in love with advanced science in high school. He dreamed of getting a Ph.D. in physics and biotechnology. But the nearest college was a good distance away. Undeterred, he applied and was accepted into the pre-med biotech program. “I would hitchhike to get to school every day but I’d often arrive late and sweaty from running. Then I would juggle homework and my job. It was a lot to handle—I was already well into my master’s degree, but I had years of study ahead of me to get a Ph.D., and I didn’t know how much longer I could keep up the pace.”
“I asked my pastor if he knew of any organization that helped believers and he told me about . ISWI’s gift has helped me focus on my studies without the distractions of wondering where my next meal or ride to school would come from. I don’t know if ‘thank you’ is a big enough way to say it. Israel is big in the field of R&D where my interests lie. Who knows what things I can discover if it is God’s will? I put His dreams first and hope that in them He will want me to discover things that will improve people’s lives.”