Christians Wage War Against Hamas

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On the front lines of Israel’s war with Hamas, “we were exposed to an unimaginable, horrific reality,” said a dust-covered, camo-clad Yehuda Bachana in a 90-second cellphone video.

The Israeli soldier and his paratrooper unit canvassed the Jewish settlements near Gaza “to clear the area from hostiles and to collect casualties,” he said.

The action followed a wave of violence on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants, backed by a barrage of missiles fired from Gaza, launched a surprise attack on Israeli towns and an outdoor music festival.

READ: Palestinian-American Community Mourns Death Of Muslim Boy Killed In Hate Crime

The militants gunned down civilians and soldiers, killing at least 250 people and wounding 1,500 more, the Associated Press reported. In addition, Hamas took between 100-150 hostages.

“We completed our mission with success,” Bachana said. Despite the horrors that he witnessed, “as a believer in Yeshua, my personal strength comes from above.”

Bachana is one of four members of the Ro’eh Israel (“Shepherd of Israel”) congregation called into active duty after the attacks, which fell on the Sabbath holiday of Simchat Torah — and a day after the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Yom Kippur War.

The paratrooper, who serves as an elder of the congregation, is deputy director of Netivyah, a Jerusalem-based ministry led by Jewish followers of Yeshua (Jesus).

Netivyah serves a network of Messianic Jewish congregations, one of which lost the son of its minister in the fighting, said Joseph Shulam, Netivyah’s founder. Shulam receives support from Churches of Christ and is a sought-after speaker on Christian campuses, including Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In a video posted from Nashville, Shulam and his son, Barry, asked for prayers and for support. In addition to its feeding programs and “Houses for Healing,” an apartment ministry for families of patients in an Israeli hospital, Netivyah supplies Israeli soldiers with headlamps, cell phone chargers and utility kits.

Healing Hands International, a relief and development ministry associated with Churches of Christ, is working with Netivyah to provide humanitarian aid.

The attacks are the result of “deep-sown, satanic hatred” for Jews and Christians alike, Joseph Shulam said. Without military intervention, “the poison that Israel is eating today, tomorrow is going to be served to people in Nashville and Atlanta and Miami and Washington.”

Prayers in Jesus’ hometown

As Israel prepares to invade Gaza — a small strip of land, controlled by Hamas, that borders Israel and Egypt — Christians across the nation of 9.3 million souls are praying for peace.

That includes the 50-member Nazareth Church of Christ. The congregation, composed primarily of Arab believers, meets in the hometown of Jesus, which today comprises Greek Orthodox and Coptic Christians as well as a growing Muslim population.

“Thank you for your concern. We are safe in lower Galilee,” Sandro Jadon, a member of the Nazareth church, told The Christian Chronicle.

Although Nazareth is about 100 miles north of Gaza, it is relatively close to Lebanon and the Golan Heights, the focus of territorial disputes between Israel and Syria.

Church members fear attacks by Hezbollah, a heavily armed Islamist militant group based in Lebanon that “will not allow Hamas’ destruction,” an analyst told the Associated Press

‘This whole situation needs the Prince of Peace’

Tensions also are high in the West Bank, a landlocked territory comprising 165 Palestinian enclaves and Jewish settlements. The Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by the political party Fattah, governs the enclaves.

“If they join their brothers in Gaza, this could be a problem,” Dr. David Vanderpool said of militants in the West Bank. Particularly at risk are about 20 disabled children served by LiveBeyond, a ministry the Christian surgeon and his wife, Laurie, launched in 2005.

LiveBeyond, which is supported by Churches of Christ, sends medical teams and provides aid to developing nations including Haiti, Honduras, Mozambique and Ghana. In 2018, LiveBeyond expanded its Johnny’s Kids program to the West Bank, providing rehabilitation services and therapy for Palestinian children. The program takes its name from Laurie Vanderpool’s brother, Johnny Stallings — the son of legendary football coach and Church of Christ member Gene Stallings. Johnny Stallings, who had Down syndrome, died in 2008.

With permission from the Israeli and Palestinian governments, LiveBeyond built a facility on the outskirts of Ramallah, the capital of Palestine. The administrator is an Arab Christian, and the facility’s staff offers speech and occupational therapy to children whose families sometimes consider them to be a mark of dishonor due to their disabilities, David Vanderpool said.

“These children, who have never walked before, are now walking,” Vanderpool told the Chronicle. Their parents are thrilled, he added, and the ministry seeks “to integrate these children into the community as much as possible.”

Vanderpool cited John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

“Everybody deserves that shot,” he said.

Now, that all could be in jeopardy. Schools and public transit in the West Bank have shut down as Arab and Jewish communities prepare for possible attacks.

“This is Israel’s 9/11,” said Vanderpool, who had to cancel his plans to travel to Jerusalem, where he and his wife spend about five months per year. “It’s hard for Americans to understand how much hate there is. This whole situation needs the Prince of Peace. We need to be praying for the peace of Jerusalem, praying for Christians who live there. They’re being persecuted.”

‘Israel is standing in the gap’

Although the attacks by Hamas were unprecedented, there is nothing new about them, Joseph Shulam said.

In his video message, the Bulgarian Sephardic Jew, who immigrated to Israel in 1948, traced the history of his people. He began with God’s promise to Abraham and the years in the wilderness when Moses led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.

As the Israelites abandoned God, Shulam said, God allowed them to fall victim to their neighbors, ultimately resulting in their exile to Babylon. In the book of Nehemiah, when King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, they faced opposition from Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab.

Thousands of years later, “nothing has changed,” Shulam said. “There is a resistance by the same elements that resisted Israel returning from Babylon. They’re now resisting the Jewish people returning back to the land that God gave them as an everlasting inheritance according to Genesis 13:15.”

Now “Israel is standing in the gap for all of us,” he said. “If Israel folds and allows these terrorist elements to continue flourishing, the virus is going to hit you wherever you live.”

To contribute to Israel relief contact Healing Hands International or Netivyah.

This story is republished from The Christian Chronicle.





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