Date: October 12, 2023
Israel (MNN) — The death toll continues to rise from Saturday’s attack on Israeli soil by Palestinian Hamas terrorists. We now know over 1,200 Israelis were brutally murdered in the attack, including women, children, babies, and the elderly.
Sebastian Schmidgall, a Christian pastor in Israel and a friend of MNN, shared his account of what it was like on the day of the attack.
“Saturday morning, I was outside sweeping in front of the church with my two-year-old and a familiar sound went off which were the sirens to warn people that there were incoming missiles. So I had quite a few backflashes.
“At that moment, I just grabbed my little girl and we went inside to check and make sure it wasn’t just a test. We realized this was serious and we were quite surprised. Within our region, usually the rockets do not reach this far.”
Schmidgall recounts then rushing to get his other children out of their Christian school in the West Bank. (School in the West Bank takes place on Saturday, with Friday and Sunday as days off for Christian and Muslim holy days.)
“We actually cross checkpoints in and out. So thank God, that day a friend was already there and was able to bring them across. We prayed that morning because a lot of the points were already being shut down. The Lord answered immediately.
“We’re usually not used to saying ‘amen’ and getting a response. But literally, I said, ‘Lord, help. Help them get out.’ And I said ‘amen’…and I got a text message saying, ‘We got out.’
He continues, “So then we had to make the trek to our friend. When we got there, the sirens went off again so we sheltered there under their home for a while. When it seemed to clear up, we threw the boys in the car and took off toward home.”
Just as many Americans have vivid memory of where they were and what they were doing on 9/11 during the 2001 terrorist attacks, this pastor’s story is one of many that will be a horrifying memory of Israeli citizens and residents for generations to come.
What Can Christians Do In This Dark Hour?
Hamas terrorists still have up to 150 Israeli hostages, even as the Israeli military has begun counterattacks on Hamas in Gaza.
“The sad thing always with conflict, with war, is that the innocent people suffer most,” says Schmidgall. “It’s true on the Palestinian side. And it’s true on the Israeli side. It’s just heartbreaking when you see women and children that have to go through great evil.”
For Christians in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and around the world, it’s an incredibly helpless feeling not knowing how to respond.
Schmidgall offers this Gospel perspective:
“We have to actively resist resentment, anger, and hatred. We cannot allow that to take root in our heart. We really want to focus on that our battle is not against flesh and blood.”
Your prayers are needed. Now more than ever.
“We have the ability to commune with the living God. And we oftentimes neglect that. But there’s such strength in that. So I want to encourage the body of Christ to seek Him, to press into His presence.”
Schmidgall asks, “Pray for all those innocent involved, obviously, those that have been kidnapped. I can’t imagine. I’ve been hugging my kids a lot tighter this week. I can’t fathom the pain of a parent sitting there not knowing where their child is at…. Pray that God intervenes.”
Ultimately, the greatest tragedy is those who die without believing in Jesus Christ.
“It breaks my heart for the Muslim world because to commit an act of violence against an image of God and think you’re serving God, we all know that’s counter to our Scripture,” says Schmidgall. “Our greatest commands are love God and love thy neighbor. It breaks my heart that there are millions of people that think they’re serving their god by committing an act of violence against someone.
“Pray there that people’s eyes would be open, that they would see, ‘This is not a faith that I want to be part of,’ and that they would…find the Way, the Truth, and the Life in Jesus Christ.”
Header photo of Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo courtesy of Dariusz Kanclerz/Unsplash)