Our Stay in Israel: Shock, Horror, and Renewed Unity
By Christian & Fabienne Sollberger
It was Saturday, October 7th, early in the morning. We left the Galilee to spend the day with a few families, encouraging one another. The theme of our trip was: “Family – a team that finds joy together.” While we were on our way, we turned on the radio. Though we didn’t understand Hebrew, we recognized the names of cities, and the words “Hamas” and “Gaza” were mentioned quite frequently.
On this particular Shabbat, which was also a holiday, the police and IDF were unusually present everywhere. When we arrived at Givat Haviva, our suspicions were confirmed. It came as a shock. Running to the safe rooms/shelters, speaking with those responsible on-site, people in frantic commotion, constantly on the phone, and receiving calls from most of the families that they would not be joining us that day showed us the severity of the situation.
The real shock for us was in the evening when we watched the evening news at our friend’s home in Shoresh. News from the airport indicated that our stay in Israel would be very different for us – the longer our stay, the more our hearts broke.
The unimaginable had become real. We were living in the midst of one of the bloodiest wars Israel has experienced in the last fifty years. It was cruelty from another era, accompanied by today’s technological means. The Prime Minister spoke of a ‘state of war.’
Our stay was marked by shock and horror. We slept poorly, lived with uncertainty, looked at the sky several times throughout the day and night, took refuge in the house’s bomb shelter a few times, and shed tears while watching horrific images on the news. It was simply heartbreaking and also moving to hear the hearts of parents whose young daughters had been taken captive by Hamas. And, we were brought to tears every time we saw the candle appear on the TV screen, which is lit in memory of those who have been killed.
By the grace of God, we had the honor of encouraging a group of Christian refugees from Sderot. They came to Shoresh, and we were able to build relationships with them, pray over them, and provide for them practically. Our stay in Israel took on a different meaning. Through various experiences, we witnessed a renewed sense of unity among Israelis. Reports of support and solidarity from many around the world also touched our hearts.
Though we have returned, we remain connected in heart and in intercession with all our friends and will return to the land that God loves.