NRB President & CEO Travels to Israel: “We Must Tell of the Horrors of Hamas”

NRB | December 14, 2023 | NRB News

Today, NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller concluded a trip to Israel to learn about the situation in the region firsthand through a series of informative and eye-opening site visits and conversations with witnesses to Hamas atrocities, families of hostages, and Israeli officials.

This opportunity for a small delegation of American Christian leaders to visit Israel was organized by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), established in 1901 and noted as one of the oldest Jewish organizations dedicated to “strengthening the bond between the Jewish people and their homeland.” The trip was graciously led by Uri Steinberg, former Israel Tourism Commissioner to North America.

Miller participated in the trip alongside several Christian pastors representing various denominations and affiliations throughout the United States. These individuals came on the trip out of a common interest in understanding the situation firsthand, standing in support and solidarity with the Jewish people, and expressing Christlike love to the people of Israel.

On Monday, Dec. 11, the delegation traveled by bus to visit communities near the Gaza strip, viewing KKL-JNF infrastructure projects along the route. The first destination of the day was Sderot—a city of 30,000 before the Oct. 7 attacks, where far fewer now reside. According to The Jerusalem Post, “Sderot is the largest town in the area known as ‘the Gaza envelope’—communities that are less than seven kilometers from the volatile Gaza Strip border.” As they toured Sderot, participants saw where a police station was targeted by Hamas and more than a dozen people lost their lives to sniper fire as they were coerced out into the street. At least 50 civilians were killed by Hamas in Sderot.

Pictured: Cities visited by Christian leaders

The group then spent several sobering hours at Kibuts Be’eri, where 130 people, around ten percent of the community, were massacred by Hamas terrorists and dozens were taken hostage. Kibbutzim are agricultural communes, some located near the Gaza border. In the kibbutz, the delegation saw homes shredded by bullet holes or burned to the ground. With difficulty, survivors shared testimonies of how Hamas ravaged the community and families and friends sought to save one another from the horrifying violence. Miller, along with the delegation, laid a wreath at the site of a dental office where several were slaughtered as they tried to provide medical aid.

Pictured: Homes in the kibbutz, wreath laid at the site reading “Christian Leaders–KKL-JNF”

Witnesses to the attack on the kibbutz attested to the community’s sense of betrayal, as many considered themselves allies of the Palestinian people and had supported the nearby communities in Gaza through agricultural employment and medical aid. These relationships, they believe, were ultimately used to sabotage them as a source of detailed information for Hamas.

Pictured: Homes in the kibbutz

The group also viewed the location of the Supernova Sukkot Gathering, the open-air music festival in the western Negev Desert where Hamas terrorists slaughtered 364 people, accounting for a third of the deaths on Oct. 7. Miller recalled that the group saw scores of burnt, destroyed, and abandoned cars still being recovered from the site.

“What happened on October 7 can be described as nothing more than pure evil,” said Miller. “This was an evil perpetuated against humanity––those created in the image of God.”

The group’s final site visit on Monday was Moshav Ein HaBesor, an agricultural settlement, to learn about the miracles and acts of courage that allowed the moshav to stave off Hamas militants.

The community leader of the moshav, a longtime peace advocate, expressed that Israel, like Moses in the Old Testament, needs partners to hold their hands up (Exodus 17:12). During their travels, Miller had a spontaneous opportunity to pray for fifteen IDF soldiers, including young men and women, Jewish and Muslim, whose unit was headed back into Gaza imminently.

On Tuesday, the delegation visited the headquarters of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum and the “Bring Them Home Now” campaign, where they listened to the testimonies of loved ones of hostages held by Hamas, including the uncle of Eden Zacharia, who has advocated nonstop for his 27-year-old niece since she was kidnapped to Gaza by Hamas. Tragically, just hours after the delegation met with Zacharia’s uncle, it was reported that Zacharia’s body had been recovered by the IDF.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum was established by volunteers within 24 hours of the Oct. 7 attacks with a singular focus: reuniting the hostages with their families. It provides comprehensive support to the affected families and works through local, regional, and global channels to facilitate the safe return of hostages and missing individuals to their loved ones. During the visit, the delegation also learned about resources to mobilize those in the media to use their platforms to raise awareness of the hostages still held by Hamas, including testimonials, stories, spots, and other materials in many languages.

Wednesday, Dec. 13 began with morning prayer at Mount Scopus, one of the viewpoints overlooking Jerusalem. The delegation then traveled to the Knesset and met with Gilad Kariv, a member of the Knesset for the Labor Party.

Pictured: Miller and Christian leaders at the Knesset

According to Miller, Kariv shared that the support of the Christian community has been invaluable as antisemitic sentiments and even calls for genocide are being vocally expressed around the world, including among groups and institutions that progressive politicians like Kariv once considered allies.

In the evening, the delegation heard the testimonies of six more survivors and took part in a special Hanukkah experience with Rabi Shimon, who opened his home to the Christian leaders for dinner.

The delegation is currently traveling back to the United States. In reflecting on the trip, Miller praised the courage, resolve, and resilience of those with whom the group interacted. He noted that the Israelis he met repeatedly expressed their appreciation for Christian solidarity with Israel in their time of crisis.

“There has never been a more opportune time for us as Christians to live out the Gospel,” said Miller. “This is a time for Christians to take action to support, pray, and help rebuild the devastated communities of Israel.”

One important way for Christian communicators to help: Use your platforms to show the world that the Jewish people will not be abandoned or forgotten by Christians, particularly as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ this Advent season. In a hostile, biased, and distorted media environment, Christian communicators can speak to challenging issues with integrity and moral clarity and raise awareness of information that must not be ignored. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum offers resources to support their efforts through a rich selection of media assets for use on broadcast and digital platforms.

NRB urges the community of Christian broadcasters to continue praying steadfastly in Jesus’ name for the return of hostages and for the peace and protection of those who have survived or are now living under Hamas’ brutality.

NRB thanks trip sponsor KKL-JNF and trip leader Uri Steinberg for generously hosting this valuable and sobering opportunity for Christian leaders. To learn more about KKL-JNF, click here. To schedule an interview with Miller about his experience in Israel, please contact Jonelle Capps at jcapps@nrb.org.

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