Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Break from Gaza

Most of you have heard about the current crisis in Gaza. We've been on the edge of disaster many times, but never closer than we are today. This has consequences far beyond the immediate situation. Please be in prayer that a peaceful solution can be found and that the kidnapped soldier will be returned unharmed. Israel’s arrest today of the Hamas leaders only raises the stakes.

In the midst of the crisis, we’d like to tell you about a miracle:

Y & S are friends from Gaza. Y is originally from Gaza; S from Nazareth. They and their four children all have Israeli citizenship. They had permission to enter Gaza, but have not left in 7 years. (It is difficult to explain, but this is a big problem!) They have been on the front line of the conflict in Gaza, but have felt called to be ministering there. Y directs a relief project that has helped several thousand families over the last few years. All are active members of the church in Gaza. So they've stayed when they might have left. Their oldest child, just finished high school. They have planned to leave this Thursday for a couple of months to visit S's family, get their oldest son started in college and just take a break. They NEED this break! This already big problem has been immeasurably complicated by the current situation. The border has been closed since Sunday. NO ONE has been allowed to enter or leave.

The Israeli soldier in charge of Erez (the crossing into Gaza) told them on Tuesday to call him every day. Maybe they could leave on Thursday. Well, they called on Wednesday around 3 PM and he told them to "come right now". They had not expected that so they threw things in a suitcase and were on the way by 4PM. We were on stand-by to pick them up at Erez so they called us. We got there at 5:30. We could see them across the security area having their luggage inspected, but could only wave. Then they were taken inside. Finally, around 8 PM they came out, but that wasn't the end. They had to go with the police to Sederot (about 5 miles away) to answer questions about why they had been in Gaza for so long. We followed with the children and luggage. Finally, at 9 PM, they were released and we headed to Nazareth. We feel like this is really a miracle! God answered many prayers! The situation is worse today because of the killing of the settler in the West Bank and the arrest of the Hamas leaders. If it hadn't happened "unexpectedly" yesterday, it may not have happened!

It was such a privilege for us to be with them for this first excursion out in so long. We went through the drive-in window at McDonald's. The youngest, who is 7, said, "Thank you, you have a nice place." and the older kids thanked us a dozen times for the McDonald's. The kids could not have been more excited at Disney World. "Look at that factory" (which was all lit up), "Look at that bus" (which was very big) JOY! WONDER!

We arrived in Nazareth about midnight. S's parent's hadn't seen the youngest since he was 3 months old. So, it was a joyous reunion. We had planned to come on back to Jerusalem, but they insisted we spend the night. (It didn't take much to convince me I was so tired.)

Please continue to pray for our other friends in Gaza and the West Bank. The situation remains very tense. Women were now coming to the compound begging and crying for food. We haven't seen that in a while. They also told us that an Israeli missile hit a car in front of one of the church member's homes on Monday. Our friends were not hurt, but it was a horrendous experience. (I'll spare you the details)

Please continue to pray for Y & S and their 4 children. Ask God to use this time to heal and renew them. They also need guidance for what's next in their lives.

Posted by PL


Anonymous said...

Our prayers and thoughts are with all of the Palestinian team. Especially Y & S and children in Nazareth since news of Nazareth being hit.

SB, Tx

skbrittain said...

Always praying.

SB, Tx