Avigail served as an operations officer (sergeant) during Operation Protective Edge (2014), the IDF defensive response to Gaza missile attacks. Her job was to facilitate communications between the forces in the field and the IDF chain of command.
Throughout the operation, Avigail was serving in the northern section of the Gaza Strip, very close to the border fence. She remembers those days as very meaningful in her life, mostly because of two incidents. Here is her story in her words:
“The Angel of the LORD camps around those who fear Him”
Already during the June 2014 operation named “Return, O Brothers” (the IDF search for the three Israeli teens kidnapped by Hamas), and before Operation Protective Edge began, our area started “heating up”. Sleeping in rooms that were not reinforced against missiles was forbidden. Gradually our base evacuated all soldiers who had non-essential jobs. Warnings were received that our base might come under direct attack.
By then, it was forbidden to enter or leave the base. All the roads in the surrounding area were closed. The warnings became more insistent, but still we didn’t know for sure if or exactly when the attack would come. My first reaction, naturally, was to feel the pressure. My whole body felt frozen and I started to tremble, but right after that the adrenalin started running, and I began moving fast to get back my equilibrium.
And I automatically started praying. I was so glad to have Someone to turn to in such a difficult, pressured situation. That was a time when I most keenly felt how important it is that we have Someone greater than ourselves that we can rely on. Among the soldiers, I was more relaxed than most, because God gave me wisdom, quietness and peace. With the help of those gifts, I was able to help the others by calming them down.
In the end, thank God, no attack came. To this day I can’t understand why nothing happened to our base. During the Operation, a number of rockets that landed close to us were really big! But no significant damage was caused to our base, and not one soldier was hurt. The Bible verse that spoke the loudest to me was “The Angel of the LORD camps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:8) God’s angels protect those who believe in Him and revere Him. I really believe that this protection was not only over me specifically, but over my entire base.
“Great in mercy to all who call on Him”
The second incident was connected to Operation Protective Edge itself. A few months before, a regiment came to us from one of the IDF infantry brigades and assigned us the mission of securing the area called Nahal Oz. During this time, those responsible for the frontline command switched one of their officers (the company commander), and a new commander arrived. He was from a religious (national orthodox) background, and he was engaged to a secular girl. On the one hand, he fervently loved Judaism and the Land; he was strongly Zionist and proud of our right to defend our country. On the other hand, he was heavily influenced by his fiancé’s secular lifestyle.
One day he called me, because he had heard that I was a Messianic Jew. I invited him to join us in the war room during a Shabbat evening, and over the dessert after the meal we sat and talked for nearly an hour. I explained everything about my faith. He was very interested in the fact that Yeshua was a Jew; but he wasn’t able to understand everything, and this bothered him a lot. He wanted to hear more.
Every time we would run into each other on the base, the commander would bring up another question. This was during the Operation, when he was under intense pressure, and I was a bit afraid to talk to him. After that came the time when he had to go into the areas where the soldiers were gathering for battle.
Just before leaving for Gaza, the officer looked for me so that he could say goodbye. He gave me a hug and I told him to take care of himself; he told me not to worry about him.
He was killed during an encounter with terrorists in Gaza.
I was really sad, and at first I felt frustrated and angry at myself. The thoughts kept troubling me: What if I missed opportunities to explain more about the Good News of salvation? But many people said to me – and God also showed me – that I don’t know what this man’s last words were, or what went through his mind. In the end, saving people is not our responsibility.
In fact, maybe God sent me to serve at that base, at that time, just so this commander could hear the Good News before his death.
…For the same Lord over all is great in mercy to all who call on Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:12-13)
Avigail’s story originally appeared in Hebrew in the Messianic Youth Magazine “Mashahu MeHaShetach”, June 2015, published by HaChotam. It has been translated and reposted with permission.