FIRST STOP: “THE KIDNAPPED SQUARE”
The large square formerly called Tel Aviv Art Museum Square has been renamed The Kidnapped Square. Here families, friends, and concerned Israelis gather to honor and await news of the hostages. A giant digital clock counts the days, hours, and minutes of their captivity. On the 63rd day, our 63-person Solidarity Tour went to the square to demonstrate that we stand solidly with them.
Two men, directly affected, came to talk with us. They asked us to tell their story to everyone we could.
The first was a doctor who’d been a longtime resident of one of the attacked kibbutzim and served as physician to several others along the Gaza border. He recently retired and moved elsewhere. Early on October 7 his cell phone began to ring. One frantic call after another came from the required “safe places” where people he’d known for years were hiding from terrorists. They were unable to reach each other. But their calls went through to him. For many grueling hours he served as a go-between-messenger to the callers, relating their messages from one to another. His voice broke as he described the hard decisions he had to make.
“For instance,” he said, “through the hours I had to decide, ‘Do I tell #1 that #2 was just murdered?’”
He examined some of the hostages after they were released. He said they were in bad physical condition.
Eitan Gonen wore a T-shirt with the picture of his 23-year-old daughter, Romi, as he spoke with us. He told us she was the “sandwich” child in the middle of his five children.
At 10:15 am, she called to tell her family she’d been shot in the hand. Her mother said, “You are at a concert. How could you have been shot?”
She and her friend Gaya were hiding in a bush from where Gaya called her friend Ben. Ben, now known in Israel as a hero, was at the concert. Ben had crammed people into his car and driven them to safety in Beer Sheva. He turned around, went back to the concert, and rescued another carload. Ben selflessly saved twelve lives. He then headed back to the concert site and to the bush where Romi and Gaya were hiding. They got into his car as did another young man.
It was from Ben’s car that Romi made her last call at 10:58. She told her mother her arm was bleeding and she thought she was going to die.
It is now known that Ben and the other passengers were murdered. Romi’s fate was not known until one of the released hostages reported that they saw her alive in captivity.
Eitan said, “We know she has been violated, but she is alive! I am not a hero. She is.”
Guy asked if we would pray with Eitan. We joined hands. All the group. Eitan and a few others waiting. The Lord gave me utterance as we prayed for Romi and all the others.
A long white table is set with places for the 240 hostages taken. 138 yellow chairs represent those still in captivity.
We stood behind each white chair where the names and faces of the hostages are placed. And we prayed.
We then drove around the nearby buildings which house Army Headquarters, Air Force Headquarters, Offices of the Chief of Staff. We prayed for them according to the Scriptures for wisdom, guidance.
I know you are praying.
Pray for the hostages. Their families.
The leaders and the people of Israel.
Pray that the leaders of Israel will not be pressured by the U.S. or any others to abandon the goal of completely wiping out Hamas.
Carmel—The Place of Elijah
On this rainy day, we drove to Mount Carmel and the place of Elijah’s triumph over the prophets of Baal. This site overlooks the Jezreel Valley and Israel’s large, almost hidden, airfield. So I also teach here about the coming Ezekiel 38, 39 war.
Today there were no other buses. (There is usually congestion with many buses and people here.) So I taught inside the church. I did not know until Guy told me that a group of students here on a field trip from a nearby Maronite Christian Village gathered at the door as I taught. They listened with rapt attention. Not wanting to leave. Pictured here are our guides giving them our contact information.
Yesterday Guy called our Druze friends who own the restaurant we always go to after Carmel.
Normally one has to stand in line with other buses who have stopped there. Today we were the only two.
When Guy called yesterday, he told them to prepare because he was bringing a large group.
The owner said, “Guy, you are joking.”
Guy said, “Billye Brim is coming, and she’s bringing a group.”
“Oh,” he said, “Billye is coming! Now I believe you!”
When we walked in both the husband and wife kissed me on both cheeks, hugged me, and their eyes filled with tears.
The owner told Guy and the drivers, “I’m not making any profit on this. But I had to open up and provide food for Billye and her group.”
I didn’t know he’d said that, but I knew it must be that way. So I was led to give the wife what we call “a Pentecostal handshake” upon leaving.
Pray for the many businesses, like this, throughout Israel that are hurt by the lack of tourists coming to this Land whose third largest income is that provided by pilgrims coming to visit this land of the Bible.
Pray for the guides and drivers who have lost their source of income.
Pray for the economy of Israel.
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