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A Light in the Midst of Trauma

May 24, 2023
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When a family loses a member, trauma invades the household. Emotions of deep grief, scars of separation and a sense of familial preservation intensify within surviving members. After the tragic loss, the family must learn to live a drastically altered life in the absence of the member who has died. People are often at their most vulnerable following a death in the family.

Israel has suffered a number of wars and countless acts of terror, inflicting loss on the nation time and time again. For Israel, this repeated trauma has had a deep impact and lasting effects. For the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and the bereaved families who will never again feel whole, the sense of acute vulnerability coupled with an intense drive to triumph over the destructive forces is a daily reality.

This year on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism), Israel mourned 24,213 of its sons and daughter who have fallen defending the Land since 1851. Over this same period, 4,255 civilians have been murdered in terrorist attacks. Since the previous Yom HaZikaron, 31 civilians have been killed. Eighteen of these died in terror attacks during the first few months of 2023, including two sets of brothers (Hillel and Yagel Yaniv, and Asher and Yaakov Paley) and three members of the Dee family, mother Lucy and two daughters, Maia and Rina. These terrible murders have plunged Israel into deep mourning.

Bridges for Peace has the honor of shining a light of love into the lives of mourning Israelis. Isaiah 40:1 issues a clarion call: “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God.” Bridges for Peace has answered this call. On behalf of Christians from around the world, we express God’s comfort to the grieving people of Israel. I believe this is close to God’s heart, as we read in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The shattered hearts of Israelis who have lost loved ones need to be comforted and supported by the love of God channeled through the work of Bridges for Peace.

Every year, Bridges for Peace comforts over 200 grieving families through a program that supports them as they mourn and remember family members who have fallen in service to Israel. We also stand with the Koby Mandell Foundation, named after a 13-year-old boy from Tekoa, south of Jerusalem. Koby and his 14-year-old friend were murdered in a brutal terror attack in 2001. Following the tragic murder of their son, Koby’s parents launched the foundation to bring support and healing to other families who have been devastated by terror. Each year, Bridges for Peace supports the camp projects that the Koby Mandell Foundation hosts, and we are able to impact the lives of approximately 350 young people who have experienced one of the most horrific forms of tragedy.

I want to appeal to Christians who love and pray for Israel to support these hurting people through our Victims of Terror program. I encourage you to consider touching someone who is in the depths of despair with the love of God. Your gift can bring light into their life. Let us be your hands and feet to comfort the shattered hearts of broken people in Israel.

I believe God has raised up Bridges for Peace to reflect the hearts of millions of Christians around the world for “such a time as this” (Esth. 4:14) to reach the most vulnerable with the message of God’s unending and unfathomable love. He promises to restore and heal them. I believe we, as Christians who love the God of Israel, are called to carry Israel’s sons in our arms and their daughters on our shoulders (Isa. 49:22) as we comfort Zion.

Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rev. Peter Fast

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