21 August 2014

Bicycle Helmets for Rockets

A social worker, paying a routine visit to an elderly couple, was shocked to find them huddled together on a sofa - terrified and wearing bicycle helmets.

The couple were Holocaust Survivors living in the seaside town of Ashkelon in Israel. At the time, over 100 rockets had been fired on the town from Gaza in one week. A few days earlier, the couple had assured the same social worker that they were doing fine and didn't need any help. But the reality was that the trauma of relentless air raid sirens had triggered memories from their childhood in the Holocaust and had left them desperate to do something to protect themselves. Physically unable to run down to the public bomb shelter, they had bought bicycle helmets in the vain hope it would protect them from a rocket attack.

Elderly Israelis run for cover during air raid siren
About 400 Holocaust Survivors live in Ashkelon, which is located about 13km/8 miles from the border with Gaza. Your People My People visited with some of them a couple of years ago and even then, when the rocket attacks were less frequent, they shared with us about the fear they experience whenever there is an air raid siren. "I thought I had escaped from the Holocaust to somewhere safe," said one elderly lady, "but now we experience it all over again." Living under the constant threat of rocket attacks is stressful for even the most able-bodied, but if you are elderly and unable to run to a shelter within the necessary 15 to 30 seconds, it is terrifying. If you are out on the streets and unable to find cover, the Home Front's recommendation is to throw yourself to the ground with your hands over your head  - obviously

14 August 2014

Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies

In the midst of the recent conflict, Abulafia, a popular Arab bakery frequented by Jewish and Arab customers, changed their employees uniforms to a T-Shirt that read  “Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies.”  On the back of the T-Shirt were symbols of the Cross, Crescent and Star of David. Abulafia has been baking bread since 1879 in the ancient port of Jaffa (biblical Joppa), a multi-cultural town where Muslims, Christians and Jews continue to live side by side. “We have been around long enough,” said Abulafia Bakery, “to know that nothing but co-existence is the solution to this conflict!”

During times of war and conflict it is easy to put up walls and to become polarized in our opinions for, or against a particular people group. But it is especially during these trying times that we need to look beyond the politics, to pray and work towards unity and peace. We know that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of darkness that are attacking this land and people, both Arabs and Jews as one.

As the war progressed, a group of Jewish and Arab Pastors from the Galilee came together in unity to pray for the situation and declare their faith in God and his plans for their people.

From a Messianic Jewish Pastor:

"Last Tuesday we had a joint prayer meeting for all Galilee congregations (Jew and Arab). We were supposed to have a one and a half hour prayer meeting about the situation and go back to our businesses …The meeting lasted four intensively blessed hours of joint prayers, worship, tears and union! The Lord's presence was strongly felt and we had a sweet taste of what true peace feels like! We prayed for all sides involved. It was especially heart-warming to see how an Arab led the prayer for the salvation of the Jews, and a Jew led the prayer for the salvation of the Arabs. Halleluiah!

"We wish to thank you for all your love, support and prayers at this difficult time!"

From an Arab Christian Pastor:

"On July 15, 2014, several Palestinian Christian Leaders went to a prayer meeting in a Messianic Congregation in Carmiel. On the same day, many Israeli soldiers are part of bombarding Gaza and many Palestinians are shooting rockets at Israel. No doubt, we have different political views as well as different theological perceptions. We have different languages and different cultural values yet we both belong to the body of the Messiah. Focusing on the Messiah is no doubt the best way for us to be together. This was the main spirit of the meeting. At the entrance of the church there was a verse written on the wall. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). It was written in Arabic and Hebrew.

"The meeting started with repentance and a sincere cry for a spiritual awakening in the country. I was truly impressed by the sincere prayers seeking the forgiveness of God not only at the level of the individual but also at the level of the whole nation. People cried out before God as sinners seeking divine mercies. I was quickly able to identity myself as a sinner. This united us. We are a group of sinners in the presence of a Holy God. We can only compete in our confessions instead of claiming moral superiority. Our confessional prayers were followed by prayers for the salvation of both Jews and Palestinians. We prayed for Israeli leaders and for Palestinian leaders. We asked God to grant them wisdom and the ability to spread peace, not war.

"Admittedly, there were a few