Date: October 24, 2023
Israel (MNN) — Israel’s pending ground offensive into Gaza and growing tensions with other neighboring countries all point to potentially long-term conflict in the region.
Pastor Israel Pochtar of Beit Hallel Congregation in Ashdod says, “Israel has the biggest military mobilization of people ever in its entire history. So 350,000 Israelis — young fathers and mostly young ones — who were mobilized in the military. It’s affecting every part of our society.”
Pochtar’s own two sons are in Israel’s military – one is already serving and one was recently deployed. His youngest son’s best friend (also in the army) was killed by the Hamas attack on October 7th, as was his daughter’s best friend who was at the music festival.
At least 30 young men from Pochtar’s church have deployed since the start of the conflict. Civilians are feeling the impact of war.
“Church services, we have to limit them to 50 people,” Pochtar says. “We do have a bomb shelter in my church that helps, praise the Lord. We still can do services. But even just to drive to the church is dangerous because we can come under fire at any time. So when we have sirens, people need to run to the bomb shelter. That’s our reality now for the last 16 days.”
During this time, Christians in Israel are showing compassion in Yeshua’s name to their communities.
“It’s tragedy. It’s painful. It’s caught us by surprise, so it is a difficult situation. But as a church, we have no time to slow down. We are working hard because crisis and war and tragedy, that’s the best time for the Church to be light, and that’s our focus. We’re collecting ourselves and going through the pain of losses.”
With so many Israeli soldiers suddenly deployed, their troops need day-to-day essentials. Beit Hallel Congregation’s war relief action teams are getting food, water, hygiene products, and other aid items to Israeli army bases in the south.
Ashdod where the church is located has been hit by continued bombing from Gaza. It’s also very close to Ashkelon, another major target of rocket fire.
“I live on a high floor, so I can see from my windows Ashkelon and Gaza,” Pochtar says. “When rockets fly, I personally see it with my eyes. So we’re close.”
Beit Hallel Congregation is providing emergency food baskets and care hampers to Israeli families affected by war in the south.
Pochtar says, “For us in the beginning when it started, we said, ‘We need to go ahead and buy groceries, buy food to be ready because soon people will cry for help.’
“As time goes on, people stay home. With the rocket fire, they cannot go into the shop. There is no house delivery. You cannot order Uber or other ways people order food. Women, young moms with little kids…stay home. They cannot even go out and buy groceries. Disabled people, old people, they are stuck home… We know from experience as time goes by, the needs will grow.”
Please pray for a resolution to the conflict and for Gospel opportunities among devastated Israeli and Palestinian communities.
Header photo of war relief action teams delivering much-needed essentials to soldiers at the Israeli army bases in the south of Israel. (Photo courtesy of Beit Hallel Congregation)