Benjamin is a friend of mine who is serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Armored Corps for over a year. I decided to ask him a few questions about his faith and struggles as a believer in Yeshua in the Israeli army:
My name is Benjamin, I’m 20 years old and live in the Jerusalem area. I was born in the USA and lived there before I made Aliyah with my family to Israel. I went to a regular Israeli high school and was enlisted to the IDF like every other young man in Israel. I serve as a combat soldier in the Armored Corps, in the 188th Brigade. I am a tank driver in the Merkava Mark III tank.
Being a believer in Yeshua in the IDF can be extremely challenging. Suddenly I found myself thrown into a strange environment surrounded 24/7 by non-believers who don’t know me or even know what a Messianic Jew was. Most people have never met a Jewish believer in Yeshua before, but those who have seem to respond to it warmly.
–How did your surrounding respond to your faith?
At first most people are a little in shock. They aren’t sure if I’m Christian or if I’m actually able to be Jewish and also believe in Yeshua at the same time. There are some who are interested and ask genuine questions, but on the other hand there are those who dislike me and try to cause me trouble or ask tricky questions in order to mess with me. I always try to be honest with every question that is asked and have to stay encouraged even when it feels like people don’t want to listen or cause my problems. In the end most people end up liking me and accepting me, even if they think that what I believe in doesn’t make sense to them. Still, it gives me the opportunity to continue being a light for them.
–Have you experienced persecution in the army?
There have been several fellow soldiers in my training who would give me an extremely hard time. They could make my life very miserable for me as they mocked me or bugged me nonstop. Most people, however, have not been like this and the majority of my army service has not been filled with these issues. In fact, I have found support from commanders in that I had been given time in the morning for my quiet time as the religious soldiers went to their prayers. Also, for my swearing-in ceremony my officer surprised me and provided a New Testament along with the standard Bible especially for me, even though I didn’t ask! Additionally, when I joined my combat unit, my officer was very interested to hear more about my faith and had me speak in front of my platoon for ten minutes about my faith in Yeshua!
–What gives you strength to continue to do what you do?
I am always facing new challenges and difficulties through my army service. To be honest, many times I wish I could just give up and run away. But I remember that God has put me here for a reason, and I have an important job protecting my people in my nation. My parents, and also my youth leaders, and many other people, support me with encouragement and prayer and have helped me so much through it all. I have to remember that I’m doing all things for God and it’s in His plans for me, and hard things will get better.
–Any tips for our readers?
Keep reading in the Word, even when you don’t have time or energy. Trust me, most of the time, I don’t have much of either! I don’t always read my Bible every day but I wish I would. It builds you up. Additionally remember to keep all things in prayer. God has helped me on so many things, also little things that maybe others wouldn’t consider important, and He’s given me the strength to continue on.
I’m thankful that God put me in the place I’m at even though it is not what I wanted to do. I’ve learned a lot of things and have grown as a person, and met a lot of great people on the way. I am sure God will continue to strengthen me as I continue where I’m at or wherever I will serve in the army.
Thank you Benjamin for being such an encouragement to Kehila News Israel readers. I pray that you could touch more hearts in the IDF!