Having just arrived back from a 10 day stay in Israel, I would like to share a few thoughts on the current situation as I saw it during that visit.
My first day in Jerusalem (Monday 10th) began with the upsurge of the recent stabbings. The “old city” was closed for about an hour, apparently the first time that had happened in over ten years. In all my many visits to the city I have never seen it so quiet, usually it is bustling with coaches and tourists, but not this time (although it did get more crowded later in the week). One group of Christians were marching around the walls singing the Hativah (the anthem) and waving the Israeli flag. The Damascus gate, as those of you that have been there will know, is usually packed with many stalls and Arab traders, this time only two stalls and shopkeepers, hardly any shoppers.
Armed Police and Army were everywhere, 1000 extra police and army have been drafted in, usually going around in groups of two or more. Many police cars and motor cycles were cruising the streets constantly.
Sirens could be heard constantly throughout the day and evenings and we always knew when a fresh incident had taken place.
Whilst in the new city on the Tuesday night a stabbing occurred in the city centre, a Palestinian had attacked a 60 year old lady at a train/tram stop some 400 metres from where we were sitting. Within minutes many police cars and motorcycles were on the scene. An extremely distraught older man came running up to us after the stabbing, crying loudly he wanted to move to Australia, because of the hatred.
On that same Tuesday evening suddenly dozens of young people, some in in their very early teens, others up to twenty plus, spontaneously gathered in the square on Yafo Street and began singing national songs, dancing together in large groups, and waving Israeli and national flags. Quite a show of solidarity. I was told that they were students from a local college. The police looked on. This went on for quite a long time, I heard one older Israeli bystander saying to another, “this is what we need (in response)”. Very, very moving indeed to witness! This singing and dancing occurred again on the next few nights. As soon as a police car passed the young people, they stopped dancing and cheered the police.
I could not help but reflect that whilst Palestinian children and young people were being taught to hate and kill, these Israeli young people were thinking and behaving quite, quite differently, what a contrast in behaviour and thinking!
I had an opportunity to give the gospel to our building administrator, a young girl in her early twenties. She has moved from Russia and told me that as soon as she got off the plane, she felt it was home. I showed her the scriptures relating to the Jews returning home from all over the world, and the covenant promise to Israel in Jeremiah 31 she was amazed and totally captivated, even stopping her incoming calls to listen to what I had to say.
A few days after the stabbings started, I asked her if she had had a nice day, quite clearly very, very frightened her reply was, “I am safe here in my office from all that is taking place outside.” It is a bunker.”
Please pray for her, her name in Anna.
I witnessed numerous down and outs on the streets of new Jerusalem begging, some sleeping in doorways. I saw one policeman and one policewoman, going over to one doorway where a tramp had his bed and belongings and place food packages there. There was another group collecting money in Yafo Street to make up parcels to give to the Israeli troops.
Please pray for the police and army, they are brave young men and women, I felt very moved and privileged to be over there at this time and see all that is taking place.
I am reminded that God sent Jeremiah to watch the potter form the pot. It was by applied pressure that the pot was formed that will surely be a “vessel unto honour” to the Lord
Pray that in all the sadness and horror that is happening they will seek and find their Messiah. Thank you.