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September 1, 2014 12:15 pm

Israel’s Christian Friends Are the Candle in the Darkness

avatar by Yael Eckstein

The Israeli flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

When I left Israel nearly six weeks ago for my annual trip to America the rockets had already begun to fall. Just two nights before my family boarded a plane for Chicago we were frantically running for shelter as the code red siren blared, signifying an incoming missile directed at my city. The experience was truly terrifying but it was eye-opening as well. Feeling targeted and preyed on by the terrorists in Gaza enabled me to truly understand what the resilient and heroic residents of southern Israel have been experiencing for years.

“You must be excited to go to America and get away from the war zone,” many friends and family members said to me as I packed my bags, surrounded by sirens and fear. But that was not why I looked forward to my trip.

Israel is my home and her people are my people. I was not abandoning my nation during her time of need, but rather leaving my beloved homeland in order to strengthen her. With the unfair demonization of Israel and her growing number of enemies, I felt a calling to travel to America in order to seek out friends, to strengthen the pro-Israel voice and to help show my Jewish nation that we are not alone.

In America, the fact that Israel has Christian friends is a given. For many the identities of being Christian and pro-Israel are intertwined. Yet when the people of Israel turn on the news and read the papers, that voice of solidarity is rarely heard. Rather it’s the harshly critical voice of the U.N., the anti-Semitism of our Middle Eastern neighbors, and the indifference of the E.U. that fills the political atmosphere and our psyche.

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“How can I get my voice heard and let the Jewish people know that I love them?” many of my Christian friends ask me, and I always answer them in the same way: “That is exactly what The Fellowship does! We are your voice in Israel to tell the Jewish people that you stand with them, always – with no strings attached.”

During Operation Protective Edge, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews became known as “the government of the south” because we have been taking quick and effective action to help the neediest people of Israel. Within 24 hours of the first rocket attacks, The Fellowship – along with hundreds of our volunteers – was on the ground delivering thousands of prepared meals to elderly who were too frightened to leave their homes even to shop for groceries, since they knew they wouldn’t be able to make it to a shelter in time if an alarm sounded. We helped orphans deal with this terrifying situation, placed dozens of bomb shelters in strategic locations, provided emergency equipment to first respondents and more – all while under constant rocket fire.

For many desperate people in Israel, The Fellowship was their only hope and the only place to turn to. I truly thank God that we came through for them.

But it was not just the aid that we provided that gave these people hope. Every person who received help was told that that help was made possible by Christians and Jews around the world who love them. Most Israelis know that Jews stand with them in solidarity and support, but for some, the fact that millions of Christians love the people of Israel came as a shocking and uplifting surprise.

“The rockets are falling and the entire world hates us, but this food reminds me that we are not alone,” an elderly woman in Ashkelon said with tears in her eyes as she looked at the note in her Fellowship food package explaining that it was donated by Christians.

And indeed, she was correct.

On my six-week trip in America I traveled to eight states, held receptions for hundreds of people, met privately with dozens of leading Christians and was interviewed on numerous influential radio stations. What I saw is that the love that Christians have for Israel is real, and the friendship that has been created and fostered between Christians and Jews is not only historic, but prophetic.

This is the message of hope that I feel privileged to bring back to my people as I return to Israel. There might be many that yearn for our destruction, but Israel’s Christian friends are the candle in the darkness. And this flame cannot be extinguished.

Yael Eckstein is the senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship).

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