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December 23, 2023

I’m just returning home from a very intense trip to Israel where I joined some other evangelical leaders in 3 days of meetings with Israeli officials, families of those who were kidnapped and taken hostage by Hamas terrorists, and survivors of the savage and barbaric attacks on innocent civilians, including babies, young mothers, elderly people, and teenagers. 

We visited Kfar Aza, one of the first communities that was overrun by Hamas where people were murdered on the morning of October 7 which should have been a quiet and peaceful Shabbat.  75 days had passed since the quiet community had been the site of some of the most uncivilized and indescribable atrocities since the Holocaust, and yet the stench of death still lingered in the air and despite attempts to clean up blood and body parts of the innocent victims, there were many reminders of how the last moments of life for these vulnerable Jewish residents of Kfar Aza were moments of pain, humiliation, and the most depraved violence that the world has ever seen.

We were escorted by military personnel from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and we were required to wear bulletproof vests and arrive via an armored bus due to the fact of it still being an active war zone.  We were less than 400 meters from Gaza and throughout our time there, the loud sounds of artillery shattered what would have otherwise been a quiet day.  Some of the shelling seemed closer than was comfortable.  After a few minutes we had gotten used to it. 

One of the first IDF soldiers I saw was a Major who I had just met and gotten to know in August of this year while visiting the military base that is used to train the dogs that the Israeli Army uses effectively for search and rescue, forward operation of attacks, and for direct defense.  He recognized me from my previous visit and we immediately struck up our conversation about the value of the dogs for such missions.   In August, we discussed the way the dogs were trained.  This time, he told me in graphic terms how the dogs were being used to save the lives of soldiers and hostages and how some had given their lives in the service of their country.

 I had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, a long-time friend who I’ve known for decades and visit with during most of my trips to Israel.  I’m not sure anyone else would be so uniquely prepared to lead the State of Israel as effectively as Benjamin Netanyahu.  I told him that I thought he was like Esther of whom it was said was raised up “for such a time as this.”  I assured him that Americans overall strongly support Israel and the evangelical community most certainly does for the simple reason is that we are “people of the Book,” and understand that our Christian faith is based on the foundation of the Jewish law and prophets. 


I had lunch on Thursday in Tel Aviv with Yael Eckstein, the CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.  IFCJ is an extraordinary charity that provides more direct assistance to people than even the Israeli government.  In addition to providing food and assistance to families displaced by the terror activities of both Hamas and Hezbollah, they purchased over 5500 bullet proof vests for ambulance drivers, first responders, and the community defense teams charged with defending a community against future terrorist attacks.  I’ve traveled throughout Israel with Yael and have witnessed their assistance to people in poverty.  As we were having lunch with a few influential evangelical leaders, the sirens went off and we had to hurry to the bomb shelter.  Even as we were on our way we heard the blast above us of the Iron Dome intercepting Hamas rockets directly over our heads.  Israelis have to get to used to such things.  Once was enough for me!

The short but very intense trip was sobering and left a deep emotional imprint on me.  But it was the comment of a young mother that touched me with a reality I hadn’t processed before.  She’s trying to take care of 4 children while her husband is serving in the midst of the hostilities in Gaza.  It’s hard enough to corral 4 children when her husband is there to help.  But now she is doing it alone and several times a day having to rush with her children to shelters when the sirens go off signaling another attempt by Hamas to murder Jewish civilians.  She simply said, “I’m tired.  I stay tired all day and through sleepless nights.  I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be tired.”

What Hamas has done and continues to do is EVIL.  They have not launched a military action, but an attempted genocide.  More than ever, I stand with Israel and the Jewish people in Israel and around the world so they will know they will NOT be abandoned and feel alone. 

The establishment of Israel in 1948 as the restoration of the land God gave them 3500 years ago was to insure that never again would there be a time when they couldn’t defend themselves and suffer another Holocaust.  With the insane leftist lunatics screaming “from the river to the sea!” we can no longer assume they will be safe or secure even in their own homes.  And it’s why I hope you join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the resolve of the Jewish people and the government of Israel and for those of us who truly believe the Bible will give support to Israel and our Jewish friends.


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