Thousands of Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel around the world are praying for the recovery of MK Yuri Shtern (Israel Beiteinu), one of the foremost Jewish leaders in forging bonds between the State of Israel and Christians, after it was discovered that he had been diagnosed with cancer, Christian leaders said over the weekend.
The disclosure last week that Shtern, 57, has a brain tumor has sparked a massive e-mail campaign among Evangelical Christians worldwide, who have launched days of prayer and fasting on his behalf .
The Moscow-born Shtern rose to prominence in the Christian world over the last two and a half years after launching the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus, the cross-party, increasingly influential parliamentary lobby which aims to work with and garner the support of Christian supporters of Israel.
The lobby, which was launched in 2004, has served as a conduit for contact with Christian supporters of Israel, most of whom are Evangelical Christians, after decades in which Israel did not have any direct Knesset-based channels of communication with the Christian world, and when such ties were mostly frowned upon.
"Yuri Shtern has served as a bridge and visionary for Christian-Jewish ties," said Rodlyn Park of the New York-based Eagles Wings Ministries. She noted that he pushed ahead with his desire to forge such ties at a time when some people in both the Jewish and Christian world frowned on such relations.
"Yuri Shtern is one of the top five Jewish leaders in Israel known to Evangelical Christians the world over," said Pastor David Decker, the president of Covenant Alliance, a Jerusalem-based Christian Zionist organization.
Decker said that his group had received "unprecedented feedback" in the form of thousands of e-mail responses to pleas sent out for prayers on Shtern's behalf.
Shtern underwent massive chemotherapy treatment to stem the cancer last week.
Shtern, who is No. 2 on Israel Beiteinu's list, was initially misdiagnosed by a Knesset doctor who said that the headaches he had been suffering for months were the result of a sinus infection. By the time he got a second opinion after a tumultuous election campaign, his cancer had spread throughout his body.
Despite the dire prognosis, Decker is optimistic.
"We believe that God can intervene and do a miracle and we are getting on our knees and bombarding heaven for a miracle," he said.
"This is the land of miracles and we need another one," he concluded.