| Amiel Ortiz and Purim
©March 23, 2008 Asher Intrater
This week Israel celebrated Purim, commemorating the events of the Book of Esther. The Scroll of Esther is read, children (and adults) dress up in costumes, and gifts are given by families one to another. The atmosphere is festive, somewhere between an Easter party and a Carnival.
At 2:30 on Thursday afternoon, a package labeled "Happy Purim" was placed on the doorstep of the Ortiz family in the Samarian settlement of Ariel. The package was addressed to David, the father of the family. David is a Messianic Jewish pastor who ministers not only in Ariel, but also sharing the gospel among Palestinian Arabs.
The Ortiz family has 6 children. The 5 older ones have already served in the Israeli army. The sixth and youngest son, Amiel, age 15, was home alone. Amiel brought the package into the house, and when he opened it on the kitchen table, a bomb on the inside exploded right in front of him.
A neighbor, hearing the blast, ran over and finding Amiel wounded and bleeding on the floor, called for an ambulance. Amiel was rushed to Schneider hospital in Petach Tikvah. The following report on Amiel's condition was given by a Messianic pastor who visited the Ortiz family in the hospital:
…second and third degree burns on his face, neck, and chest; a piece of metal in one of his lungs that may need to remain; a piece of metal in his right eye, which was removed, and the nerve was not cut, but there is still some question over whether he will be able to see in that eye; two of his toes were amputated; a heavy loss of blood from his thighs, raising concern over their future strength; serious injury to his hands.
The fact that Amiel was not killed by this explosion, which did widespread damage to their apartment, is a total miracle. Yet he is still in intensive care, needing our prayers.
This bomb attack was not an isolated incident, but part of a growing level of persecution against Messianic Jews in Israel and Palestinian Christians in the territories. At the time of this writing, it is not sure who set the bomb. Two directions are being investigated by the police: either Muslim extremists or Jewish religious extremists. (The Muslims hate Messianic Jews both for sharing the gospel and for being Jewish. The Jewish extremists hate Messianic Jews for believing in Yeshua [Jesus] and maintaining our Jewish identity.)
It is astonishing to think that the attack could have come from either a Jewish or Muslim group. On this holy day of Purim, we think about the book of Esther, in which the "prime minister" of Iran plotted to kill all of the Jews in his kingdom. The same spiritual battle that raged back then is still relevant today.
The attack was reported on Friday in a half page article on page 6 of Yediot Ahronot, the largest Israeli Hebrew newspaper. On Sunday, it was reported on a full page article on page 11. News reports this week have been neither positive nor negative toward Messianic Jews. They almost all refer to us as a cult or a sect; and downplay the terrorist aspects of the explosion. In any case it represents one of the widest exposures of Messianic Judaism in the Israeli media to date. It remains to be seen what their coverage will be when the attacker is found.
Despite the enormous tragedy of this event, let us pray that God will honor the suffering of this young man to bring about a breakthrough for His kingdom. With the right media coverage, it is possible that by the end of this week, for the first time in history, virtually every Israeli will know about Messianic Jews and of our faith in Yeshua.
Almost all of the Messianic congregations in Israel are praying for Amiel and the Ortiz family. In addition, almost all of the Palestinian Christians (as well as many evangelical Christians around the world) are unified with us in compassion and prayer. Here we are all truly one in the Messiah.
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