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Simple Joys a Stone’s Throw from Gaza

Yael Eckstein at IDF base with Fellowship Vehicle

June 20, 2018

It took me around 20 minutes of driving on isolated sandy roads, in the middle of desert land largely burnt from terror kites, to make it to the secret Israeli army outpost 800 meters (about a half mile) from the Gaza Strip.

At the outpost, everything was sand and dirt. Huge concrete blocks were stacked as high as the eye could see, lining a narrow walking path to get to the Gaza Strip outlook location. The outpost tower was surrounded by thick metal, to protect us from the falling rockets.

From the border outlook, I didn’t use binoculars; I could basically see into Hamas houses just a stone’s throw away without them.

The IDF outpost was full of Israel’s bravest warriors – strong, heroic men who wore kippahs (skullcaps) on their heads to remind them that their real strength comes from God alone. These soldiers fearlessly protect Israel’s borders, knowing that they are fighting a holy war, a battle of good versus evil, life versus death.

When I looked in their eyes, I saw their pain, and it broke my heart; after being constantly bombarded by rockets, machine gun fire, terror tunnels, and flaming terror kites, it’s hard to put on an authentic smile.

But then something happened.

The Fellowship hospitality vehicle pulled up to the outpost, and it was as if the soldiers saw manna fall from the sky. Music played from the vehicle speakers, and the volunteer driver and I spoke over the microphone: “The Fellowship vehicle has arrived – come get free snacks, donated with love from Christian friends.”

The soldiers swarmed the van, singing, laughing, and calling out “THANK YOU!” and “WE LOVE YOU!” as we gave them hot coffee, cold water, chips, ice cream, and gum. God’s spirit of love and joy clearly filled their entire beings.

These snacks might seem mundane, but for these soldiers who have been on duty for 17 hours straight, wearing heavy gear in 90-degree weather, sheltering from rocket fire, eating stale army meals, these snacks are the greatest joy – for their stomachs and for their hearts.

Thank you, friends, for giving me this honor of representing you. I pray I make you proud.

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, FSU, ELDERLY WOMAN

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