Comfort in Dark Times of War
By Corrie van Maanen, Homecare Nurse
Our joy that resulted from the Feast of Tabernacles—when Christians from many nations traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast with us—dramatically changed to shock and tears as sirens bellowed, people raced to bomb shelters, and we realized the horrors of what had happened on October 7.
ICEJ Homecare immediately began to contact the people we care for. What could we do for them? What were their needs? Each person had a different reaction. Some were in total shock, while others were gripped by fear, depression, or anger. Single mothers became protective of their children. Holocaust Survivors feared a time of hunger lay ahead, while the jolting images of Jews suffering at the hands of terrorists revived memories of their own past horrors.
One elderly lady lives alone and is still recovering from an operation. I promised her weekly visits, which have become the highlight of her week. She makes soup so we can share a meal together. While we eat, she cries over the situation. She went through many hardships in life back in Russia and fears this war in a way I can hardly fathom.
When I visited Tatjana in her bedroom, she anxiously asked: “Can you buy me medicine to calm me down?”
Because I know her so well, I already brought some. Years ago, Homecare provided nursing care to Tatjana and her father during a long illness. We also cared for her husband until his passing a few years ago. This lady lost family members in the cruelty of World War II. I sat beside her, carefully listening to her trembling words, and asked her what she was doing during the day.
“I listen to the news from Israel in Russian the whole day,” she responded. “I am afraid to go out of the house.”
Then I showed her my “medicine”—a small book of Psalms in Russian. Together we started reading. Slowly, she calmed down. After several psalms, she looked up and said: “You are right. I shouldn’t listen to the news so much. These words are giving me the peace I need.”
I also visited an elderly lady who lives in the South with no family and only a small support network. She is in poor health, and daily life is a challenge. When I arrived, she was distraught about the war. As I helped resolve some of her smaller irritations, she calmed down. After a while we could discuss her concerns. I wondered if she had enough medication, food, and water in the house and if she had somebody nearby to contact. I asked, “Are you still praying, knowing the God of Israel is with you?” Her eyes lit up.
“Yes, I am praying day and night.”
We drank our tea and talked about many subjects. When I rose to leave, she said: “A stone was rolled from my heart this morning.”
In Jerusalem, I regularly visit a Jewish couple in their 80s who survived the Second World War in a ghetto. Last year, they escaped the horrific battle for Mariupol in Ukraine, fleeing their home as rockets hit their apartment building by climbing down a ladder from the second floor. After a long and dangerous three-week trek, they made Aliyah via Hungary to Israel with their two daughters, leaving behind a son-in-law and grandson. They suffered from grief and loss of all their treasured belongings.
When I recently visited them, she held up three fingers, saying: “This is the third war we are in, and this time we have nowhere to go.” Still, they were finding strength and hope in the God of Israel.
During the Feast, people from the nations blessed Homecare once again with suitcases of gifts for needy Israelis. A group of Finnish believers brought bags filled with new bed linens, towels, and many hand-knitted socks. I did not know how valuable these would be until I took the gifts to a kibbutz just outside Jerusalem that is housing 150 traumatized Israeli evacuees from the Gaza border area. The gifts were much appreciated and met a great need.
Israelis have come together in heartwarming ways to help each other during this war. Homecare is helping too. We sit with people, listen to their worries, and encourage them to trust the Lord. We are buying groceries, helping with showers and hygiene, and sharing soup and tea. Sometimes, we feel our arms are too short to help everybody, but we make a difference where we can because His love is a never-ending source.
You can help with protect Israelis and contribute to our war relief efforts by donating today!