March April 2012

Shalom Dear Friends, Supporters and Prayer Partners,

As we reflect over the events over the past two months, we see it has been another very busy time at the Ark in the Negev. It’s hard to describe everything in words the Lord has been doing among us, but please allow us to use this newsletter to share some of the recent news. Two of our students have left the women’s center. One student returned closer to her previous healthcare clinics. She is determined, however, to continue in her pursuit of a better life. Another chose, unfortunately, to leave the program completely. It is hard for us, as staff and also for the fellow students, to see some of the women leave the center before their committed time is over. Teen Challenge is a commitment and not a mandated program that confines students to a set period of time with consequences and penalties, if this commitment is broken. Because of this, students understand that they are admitted to the program through this commitment, yet they also understand they are released to leave if they so choose. We believe, as staff, that our time invested in the students is not in vain. An explanation of the Teen Challenge program is below. Julia, the mother of the toddler remains with us and continues to show great improvement in her determination to learn a better lifestyle than what she had when she joined us several months ago. There is a testimony of this below.

We also have been busy with celebrating Jewish holidays, as well as hosting friends and groups to the center. In March we celebrated Purim (the story of the Book of Esther) and for Passover, we hosted about 70 people for a Seder (the ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Passover holiday). We have had several tour groups to visit. We greatly appreciate the tour leaders and pilgrims taking the time out of your busy tour schedules to come visit us. We are blessed to have such a nice yard with the new security fence that allows us to host such events.

Our staff, composed of volunteers, continues to be the “backbone” of the center. Without their dedication and help, we could not continue to function properly. This time, we would like to share about another invaluable volunteer who gives of herself to serve the center. Our house mother, “I” truly has a heart for the students. (Because we want to guard her identity, we will not publish her name or photograph.) Before “I” knew the Lord, she, too, travelled on a road leading to self destruction with eternal consequences. Her life was filled with drug and alcohol addictions, as well as other ungodly actions. She surrendered her life to the Lord and He delivered her from her life’s actions that were killing her. Since then,” I” uses the victories over her past for the glory of God. At the center, she guides the students on the straight and narrow path, as she loves them into the Kingdom. She knows first-hand what these women battle. She knows the pains they endure. She recognizes the signs that their life is in shambles. She bears the “battle scars” of her past life, but these scars are also evidence of the victories she has won with the Lord’s grace and mercy. Because she has been there, the students trust “I” to understand them. Please pray that as these students trust “I”, they will also learn they can trust the Lord.

Jane is one of our most recent volunteers. A powerful prayer warrior, Jane also has a heart for praise and worship. She shares her beautiful talent of music through her ability to play the guitar. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Already we see her willingness to assist in the center’s duties. She also is a vital part of the evenings’ activities for the students. Lois arrived just a few weeks ago. The owner of a computer business for many years, she brings to us some very vital knowledge of computer organizational skills. We have been blessed with a new computer for administrative purposes and Lois has set it up for us and organized the files. We have applications from several other women who are interested to be volunteers in both short-term and long-term positions. We are so grateful for each of them. If you believe the Lord is calling you to volunteer with us, please write to us at the email address in this newsletter for more information.

Our student Julia has proven in several ways that she is determined to learn how to and live a better way. She has shown that she is not a quitter and no longer afraid of challenges.
Several years ago, Julia trained in hairstyling but her confidence was so low that she would not attempt to cut anyone’s hair. She attends the hairstyling classes at the women’s center and now enjoys cutting and styling hair. She recently accompanied Barbara (center volunteer and class teacher) and a former class student to the local Holocaust Survivor Center to cut and style the residents’ hair in time for the Passover celebrations. In addition to the hairstyling classes, we continue with the daily schedule of Bible studies, English classes, and handicraft classes where students make marketable items.

The center, seen by those on the outside, is merely a house, a building where the Ark in the Negev staff and students live. But to the staff and students, it’s “home” for the duration of their time in the program. A local artist painted this mural on one of the center’s walls. The beautiful landscape brings softness to the stark white walls that are so common in the homes in Israel. Located in the southern part of Israel where many of the recently launched rockets are within range of Arad, we are thankful for the Lord’s protection over us.

Blessings and love with gratitude from Zion,
Polly Sigulim, director
Staff, volunteers, and the women and children in the Ark