|Tony Perkins, Anne Graham Lotz,
Kay Arthur, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson (L-R)
“It feels like we are getting a great big hug!” That’s what the Israeli leadership said to us when we visited them last week.
Not once, but twice we heard that expression. Furthermore, we heard something similar from two advisors in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli Cabinet Minister, the Mayor of Jerusalem, an Iron Dome engineer, the President of the Ashkelon Youth Council, a Torah scribe, teenage IDF soldiers, a famous chef, several shop owners, and many others. They were grateful we came and for our mission.
What was that mission? Led by the National Religious Broadcasters, “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” was eleven Christian media and ministry leaders visiting the land, the people, and the leadership of Israel to show them, their friends, and their enemies that we support their right to exist and defend themselves, even if others do not.
What did we see? First, we experienced a security setting second to none. The airport at Tel Aviv, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the traditional Holy Land sites were all safe and sound. We can encourage others to plan tours, vacations, and conferences as soon as possible. This is a strategic time to visit Israel to show support and avoid long lines!
Second, we were received graciously by the government and the people at every turn. They were eager to listen to our Christian testimony and to allow us to pray for them. We talked about the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Messiah. We prayed together, specifically for the Peace of Jerusalem.
Third, only because we insisted, we ventured far away from the “safe zones” and went to an Israeli town on the Gaza border to see the conflict first hand. We ran to an underground command center when a missile warning alarm went off. After all was clear, we left the bunker. A few minutes later another alarm sounded, so we hurried to an above-ground bomb shelter and heard a loud “boom.” Going outside, we could see the trail and the kill cloud - a successful intercept of a Hamas Qassam rocket by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Moments later, we moved quickly to a different safe room when a third alarm sounded. This time we heard and felt a loud bang. Afterwards, there was confusion and anxiety, some shouting in the village, “Whose house was hit?” The missile struck a home in the village within a quarter mile from us. A young couple with their child lived there; thankfully, they were not home at the time.
|Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson (L-R)
We saw playground bunkers and hospital bunkers for “preemies.” The number of premature births is increasing because of stress on the mothers. This is the tactic of terrorism, leveraging violence against civilians, women, and children to pressure change in government policy.
No one should have to live like this. This is the work of Hamas. Like ISIS and Hezbollah, these terrorists do not believe Israel has the right to exist. We do. Even if the Fire Department makes mistakes, there can be no neutrality between the Fire Department and the fire. As I write this, approximately 4,500 rockets have been fired at Israel since July 8. Americans would not play nice if a neighboring country was shooting rockets daily on us; we should not expect Israel to do so either. We support Israel and the Palestinians who oppose Hamas. Let us be hopeful and prayerful about the most recent ceasefire, but also resolved to support Israel against future terrorism should Hamas resume the missile attacks.
I am thankful to the Israel Ministry of Tourism for coordinating this trip and for those Christian leaders who made the journey: Kay Arthur, Co-Founder, Precept Ministries; William A. Blount, President, Blount Communications Group, and Chairman, NRB Board of Directors; Richard P. Bott II, President & CEO, Bott Radio Network; Annette M. Garcia, President/GM, Son Broadcasting Co. Inc.; Richard Land, President, Southern Evangelical Seminary; Anne Graham Lotz, President, AnGeL Ministries; Katie Pavlich, News Editor/Fox News Contributor, Townhall.com/Townhall Magazine; Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council; Jerry K. Rose, President & CEO, Total Living Network; and Chelsen A. Vicari, Evangelical Action Director, The Institute on Religion & Democracy.
By Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB
Published: August 28, 2014