It was Thursday evening, July 13th; two more Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped the day before - this time on the northern frontier by Hizb'allah guerillas. Tents of Mercy had called an emergency prayer meeting and many of us were gathered to intercede for our captured soldiers and our young men risking their lives searching for their other kidnapped comrade in Gaza. Sometime in the middle of our gathering Moshe Morrison received a cell phone call - he motioned with his arms for all of us to quiet down (we had been joyfully and purposely interceding). Calmly he passed on the news. Haifa had just been hit by two Katyusha rockets.
We all stood there in stunned silence for a brief moment. In all the tragic history of warfare and terrorism in Israel such a thing had never happened before. Our silence did not last long. Almost simultaneously a cry and a shout rose up from among the gathered believers. Not a cry of fear and desperation but a cry of confidence in Adonai Tsvaot - The Lord of Heaven's armies. All of us linked our hands together and raised them up to the God of Israel. In the midst of terror and shock our voices rose together in worship. I don't recall ever hearing our people pray and shout with such exuberance and I don't think I had ever been prouder of our Tents of Mercy family. Our intercession was a spontaneous reaction of trust in the God of Israel.
Sometime later we heard that the two rockets had fallen harmlessly on a Haifa street. No one was hurt and life carried on. Sunday morning I was just getting ready to head out the door when I heard the booming echo of Katushas landing. Hizb'allah had launched a rocket attack all across northern Israel - rockets that had plagued the far north and Gaza border towns were now landing in Haifa, Akko and in the Kriyot.
We live two doors down from a public bomb shelter but in the ensuing confusion those responsible had failed to un-lock the doors. Because our home is protected (sort of) by our landlord's flat above we soon became the meeting place for several neighbors. Together we did what all Israelis do at such times - we huddled around the radio for the latest news and manned our cell phones trying to get in touch with folks to see if they were OK.
Soon another neighbor came by to let us know the shelter was now open. Our whole street was gathered together, no one really sure what was going on or what the future held. Cramming around a TV we learned the tragic news: A powerful missile had scored a direct hit on Israel Railways maintenance depot in Haifa. Eight Railway workers were dead.
My landlord is a jovial man and the veteran of four Israeli wars. His face went ashen. His son worked in this same railway depot and his wife in the adjacent Israel Rail office building. A cell call from his son soon relieved him of his worst fears but other fathers were receiving calls with much grimmer news. An hour later my landlord's wife arrived home. I could see this dear and gentle lady was carrying great grief upon her. My wife Sue and I hugged her to give her our condolences but we had no adequate words to bring consolation. She personally knew all the workers who were killed. She would spend the next days attending funerals and sitting shiva with grieving family members.
Life Goes On
We have spent much time together with other Tents of Mercy folks that remain in the area (most families with small children understandably have moved south). We have been meeting together to pray and worship and despite the pain and suffering all around us these times have been especially meaningful. It is not naive to reckon that praise and worship is a great weapon against the forces arrayed against us. Scriptures such as "He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps" have taken on a new significance. Typically we have sought meaning in the application of these scriptures to our personal fights against self and spiritual forces seeking to hinder our life in God. However, these scriptures first and foremost are not about personal application - they are the sure word to Israel that the God of heaven and earth keeps His covenant promises.
Miracles of Protection
We continue to hear dramatic reports of God's miraculous hand protecting Israelis from harm. Tents of Mercy has its growing list of miraculous provision. There is Svetya. The other day she went out to get some needed groceries. Her husband was away and she left her children at home. While she was out the sirens sounded and soon after her cell phone rang - her children were understandably scared and asked her to come home. This dear lady is 8 months pregnant - she tried to find a cab but none were available so she set off towards home on foot as fast as she could. She decided to cross a vacant field by her house when a taxi pulled up and offered to take her home. Just as they headed off a rocket landed in the same field she had moments earlier thought to cross.
A rocket landed just three doors down from Tents of Mercy's congregational apartment in Kiryat Bialik but failed to explode. There were no injuries and no property damage. But here's the topper: One of our elderly couples who attend our Haifa congregation was inside their home when a Katyusha struck their apartment! They sustained only minor injuries.
Connecting to the Land
When we made Aliyah we knew that coming here meant the possibility of facing such things. But somehow both then and now His peace gives us courage to move forward. My landlord asked me the other day: "I don't understand? We were born here but you can go back to Canada. Why do you stay?" I told him we came because the God of Israel told us to return to His land. "How can we now run away?" He smiled a huge grin and firmly shook my hand. We were two Israelis meeting together at a new and deeper point of contact.
Rockets continue to fall (even as I type this article) but we remain safe under the shadow of His wing. For every crisis and difficulty the question comes down to: "Do you trust Me?" We have said in our heart, "Yes Lord, we do."
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Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: In The Cross Of Messiah I Glory|
|Eitan Shishkoff: Esther's Call|
|Eitan Shishkoff: Messianic Children And Youth Take Refuge|
|Asher Intrater: Tisha B'Av 2006 On The Lebanese Border|
|Gateways: Missional Community: Creating A Landing Pad For The Glory Of God|