Planting Roots in a Hostile Environment

The Fellowship  |  October 21, 2015

Emergency team helping a man on a stretcher with a head injury.
Planting Roots in a Hostile Environment

My husband and I are in the market to buy our first home in Israel after living here six years. It just so happens that our house search coincides with the latest wave of terror to hit Israel.

Last Friday, my husband and I went to look at a property. We have bought homes before, both in America and when we lived in Australia, but never before did the real estate agent have an M16 slung over his shoulder. This time, he did.

I chuckled nervously when the man met us at the property and I noticed his “gear.” I asked jokingly if it came with the home. He gave me a serious look and said – as if I hadn’t noticed – that we are going through a difficult time here in Israel.

As we were viewing a potential home from the outside I began to hear what sounded to me like gunshots. The real estate agent continued to talk as though nothing was happening, and my husband continued to listen intently. After a few more bangs, I finally spoke up and said, “Does anyone else feel like we are listening to gunshots?”

Quite confidently, the agent, who has lived in Israel for many decades, explained casually that it didn’t sound so much like gunshots as much as tear gas canisters being exploded. The implication was that, no, we were not in imminent danger of a shooting rampage, but yes, in a nearby Arab village a dangerous riot was going on, leading the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to disperse the violent crowd with tear gas.

Sure enough, a few moments and several gusts of wind later, we felt a faint burning sensation in our eyes and nose.

How ironic, I thought, to be looking to put down our roots here while our country seems to be falling apart. What a crazy thought to be buying a home against a backdrop that includes rock throwing on our roads and weekly terrorism in nearby neighborhoods. Were we being foolish?

And then I remembered the prophet Jeremiah. I recalled how just before the children of Israel were exiled — and Jeremiah knew full well that this was about to happen — God commanded him to buy land and to seal the deed in a jar where it would last a long time.

Jeremiah did as he was told and explained to the curious onlookers that God had told him: “Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (Jeremiah 32:15). Jeremiah bought the land as an act of faith that the children of Israel would one day return to Israel and that his purchase was not pure folly.

Inspired by Jeremiah, I remember the promises God gave to Israel, His beloved children, as I pray about buying land in my homeland. I remember that God promised to bring us back to Israel and that one day we will live in peace. I remember that God promised this land to my people. I believe that the way things are today is not the way they will always be.

This is what I told a concerned family member back in America when I shared my intentions of buying land just 10 minutes south of Jerusalem. “Is it safe to live there?” “Can you be sure that you won’t be thrown out of that land and lose your money?” “Are you not afraid?” These were the questions I was asked. I have no definite answers, but what I do have is faith.

Buying land in Israel is an act of faith. Especially at this time, it is a declaration that I believe God’s Word more than the threats of our enemies. I believe in God’s promise to keep His people in Israel more than the enemy’s promise to obliterate us. That is why even as they do everything in their power to uproot us, I will try my best to plant my family here permanently. This is where we, the Jewish people, belong and where we will thrive.

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