This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

How renewed rocket fire affects the local body of believers

Since Monday morning, March 25 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the first one hitting the coastal city of Netanya which is north of Tel Aviv, a distance of about 120 km. This was followed by a barrage of more attacks throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning. Kehila News Israel contacted a number of congregational leaders, both in Netanya as well as near the Gaza Strip to get their reactions on these new disturbing developments. Here are some of their comments:

Eugene Mitrea, congregational leader at Sar Shalom, Jerusalem: “We have two families in Ashkelon that are part of our congregation in Jerusalem. They both have ten children. It is not easy for them every time the alarm sounds, having to run to the shelter…I think it’s ridiculous how Israel -a world power in many areas – allows Hamas to call the shots and terrorize more and more people in our country. We hope and pray our leaders would deal with them once and for all.”

Howard Bass, congregational leader at Nachalat Yeshua, Beer Sheva:  “Of course, it’s always worrying when the ‘conflict’ breaks out and begins to escalate, with rockets being fired at cities, towns, kibbutzim — especially for those living right near the border with Gaza. There are also believers in those areas, and I praise God for their fortitude and faith to remain living where they do for the sake of the gospel and the Kingdom of God. It is the beginning of Spring, “when kings go out to war.” Beer Sheva is not exempt, and our night may not go uninterrupted. Yet the message that we have from the Lord is to pray for a change of heart and mind of those who oppose Him and His people and His land, that they repent and believe the gospel and come to salvation. When this happens, then even these enemies can be used by Yeshua to stop seeking Israel’s destruction, but rather show mercy to her and tell the Jewish people and the nation how Yeshua changed their hearts and lives to love them! Only a Holy Spirit encounter can accomplish this. Our challenge is to love our enemies, even as we want our country’s political and military leaders to do what is right to protect its borders and population.”

Michael Biner, congregational leader at City of Life Messianic Congregation, Sderot (border town near Gaza): Many members of our congregation especially suffer from these rocket attacks as we live so close to Gaza, but our faith sustains us through it all. Our prayers have been answered so many times, and we have seen incredible miracles take place. For example, a rocket fell in a public preschool kindergarten play area at 11 p.m. at night. Had that occurred during the daytime, countless mothers and young children could have been killed. I remember a rocket falling just 20 meters from my own window. A couple of more meters, and it would have landed in our living room. There is no question the Lord has protected us. We continue to pray and believe that God is faithfully watching over us.”

David Loden, former congregational leader at Beit Asaph, Netanya: “I heard the sirens in the night… they actually woke me up, even though they were several kilometers away. We have a siren right next to our house, and when it goes off… the dead rise!! It was not going off – only those far-away ones! So I went back to sleep thinking it must be a test or something. It was a shock to learn in the morning that there was a real attack, and with devastating results as well! I am retired from active participation in our Netanya congregation, but here in the house, which is a duplex together with another couple, we are embarking on a program of preparing our somewhat neglected bomb shelter for use.”

Ya’acov, Ashkelon: “We just finished celebrating Purim. As with most Jewish holidays the theme is the same; “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!” Sadly that has not been the case with Gaza. We have fought three wars with this enemy and have yet to have a victory. No, instead the saga has been; “they tried to kill us, we gave in and signed a ceasefire, now what?” It’s been nothing but a tit for tat you bomb us we bomb you merry-go-round ever since we pulled our citizens out of Gaza in 2005. I am a resident of the south (Ashkelon) living under the shadow of not knowing when the next conflict will start, when the next missile will be fired towards us. The gloomy part is our enemy is the one deciding on the when. To them we are like fish in a barrel. Happily this last round did not reach our neighborhood but is that any consolation? No, especially when you only have 15 seconds to make it into your bomb shelter. Last November, when Hamas decided to fire over 500 missiles at us, one landed in the park across from our apartment causing considerable damage. Thankfully it took place in the early hours of the morning and the park was empty. However, had the rocked traveled a mere 400 meters to the east it would have slammed into an adjacent apartment building, perhaps even ours! ”

Evan Thomas, Netanya: “Unfortunately/fortunately we are visiting NZ at present so a rocket hitting a home seems a long way away. We spoke to our daughter who lives in Netanya and works in Tel Aviv. She did not seem the least ‘phased’ by the incident or by the threats from Gaza. For her it was just another day. Maybe that is the Israeli reality that needs to be stressed. The political climate is toxic, of course, and the Palestinian hard liners seem to be doing everything by their actions to see that PM Netanyahu is re-elected. It’s a crazy upside down world!”

Simcha Davidov, home group leader, Ashdod: “Living in Ashdod includes the awareness we could get hit by rockets from Gaza. Since 2014 no rockets have hit Ashdod, but we are watching this possibility every time there is fighting going on. Our hearts are with the people that live around Gaza as well as with the many innocent people who live in Gaza who suffer often under the sounds of war and some get hurt. We pray about this complicated situation and call on God for help.”

Avigail Ginat, Ashkelon believer and congregant of Beit Hallel, Ashdod: “I found it to be a very challenging week, but God is great.  Despite the challenges, He gave us so much peace. I live in a very old building without a safe room. Our only bomb shelter is across the street, and it takes us at least 15 seconds to get there, leaving us really 3 or 4 seconds from the time we hear the siren. We were there for two nights. The same thing happened a couple of months ago. A rocket landed just a few meters from our building, and two people were killed and others injured Needless to say, this time has been very intense for our four children, the youngest being 10, but God even was able to use us to declare the peace we felt in our hearts. One of the daughters of our neighbor was really panic struck, but we were able to let her know that the Lord would protect all of us. I praise the Lord and know that He will continue to be with us. We are not leaving this area, because we really love being here.”

[NOTE: This article was last updated on March 28, 2019.]

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Cookie is the former managing director of Makor HaTikvah Messianic School in Jerusalem.

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