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September 7, 2015 7:43 am

Prayer Project Calls on Christians Worldwide to Honor Fallen IDF Soldiers

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IDF St.-Sgt. Almog Shiloni funeral. Photo: Tazpit News Agency.

IDF St.-Sgt. Almog Shiloni’s funeral. Photo: Tazpit News Agency. – Heart to Heart, an Israeli non-profit organization that supports Israel’s emergency services, has launched a new prayer project enabling Christian supporters of the Jewish state to offer spiritual comfort to the families of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who were killed in the summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The project has sparked an outpouring of love and support worldwide, gathering hundreds of prayers from dozens of countries and U.S. states.

Sixty-six IDF soldiers were killed in last summer’s conflict with Hamas, during which the terrorist organization fired more than 5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip to Israel, bringing two-thirds of the country within firing range. Most of the country has moved on, but for many Israelis, the pain of the war will never end. The soldiers who died were sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers, each leaving behind families that will mourn them for the rest of their lives.

Heart to Heart, which supports Israel’s national ambulances, EMS, and blood banking institutions, is reaching out to Christian supporters of Israel worldwide and giving them the opportunity to offer their heartfelt prayers for the comfort and healing of the mourners.

To date, personal prayers have been received from 26 countries and 38 U.S. states. Heart to Heart hopes to garner at least 10 prayers for each family in mourning—nearly 700 prayers in total. The organization will publish the collection of prayers before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) in an effort to share with the Israeli public the strength of spiritual support for Israel’s military heroes.

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“When we release these publicly it will make a big impact on the families of those who have fallen in battle and Israel in general, as a great expression of comfort and solidarity,” Heart to Heart Director Jonathan Feldstein told Breaking Israel News.

In one of the prayers, Larry Nerney of California wrote, “We know that God has received their souls and on the last day, we will be united with those we love and all shall be comforted in the city of Jerusalem and we will live again. May God Almighty send you His blessings, may He continue to hold you in the palm of His hand until that day. May your friends and relatives be of comfort to each of you and may God bless your tears.”

A prayer from Virginia’s George King stated, “Your sacrifice is mourned and respected by all who know that freedom is not free. Our prayer is that you know that from far away you are loved and gratefully appreciated! Praise be to our Lord and may you feel His Spirit and Blessing as you continue through this life!”

Maretta Rees of the United Kingdom wrote, “As I read the list of names of those killed during the war last year, my tears fell as I thought of losing my beloved son. My heart goes out to you in your suffering, knowing the ache in your heart will always be with you, even though it lessens, still the hurt remains. I pray for you that our loving Heavenly Father will be with you, holding you and supporting you, taking the hurt and giving you His Peace as only He can give.”

Feldstein told Breaking Israel News that Heart to Heart “has had unique success in involving Christians to save lives in Israel, but sometimes even with the most Herculean efforts, that’s not to be.”

“We honor and remember those who lost their lives defending Israel in the 2014 Gaza war, and together, Jews and Christians, we want to show support and solidarity for their families, recognizing their loss and grief, and sending them our prayers,” he said, adding that one of the most touching aspects of the project is how thankful people are for the chance to share their support.

“As an opportunity to give people all over the world to express their solidarity, it’s been met with great enthusiasm. We are receiving prayers but also thanks from participants for the opportunity to send their prayers,” said Feldstein.

Israel is the foundation of strengthening the Judeo-Christian relationship, according to Feldstein.

“Jews and Christians understand the prophetic calling of Israel, and how it is a fulfillment of prophecy and God’s promise. Standing together with Israel, blessing Israel, and praying for Israel is a realization of our obligations and a repair of the 2,000-year-old breach between Judaism and early Christianity,” he said.

Considering the history of the two faiths, the enthusiasm and love represented by the prayer project is even more significant, Feldstein explained.

“Especially since so many Jews were persecuted and slaughtered in the name of ‘the Church,’ seeing Christians today who truly represent the church standing together with Israel [is a sign] of how God wants us to live together and not pervert His word to persecute,” he said. “God gave His promise, but He never said it would be easy. Comforting mourners is a great value and expressing of love that is and ought to be reciprocal. The more projects like this flourish, the more we build that, and the more we are able to involve others to continue to flourish.”

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