ACLI Prayer Weekend Recap
—by Shannon Bennett, Leadership Outreach Coordinator & John Vedder, Church Relations Coordinator
Throughout the weekend of November 17–19, 2023, thousands of churches prayed in agreement with synagogues worldwide for the nation of Israel and the release of the hostages held by Hamas. The astounding result: 105 hostages were released during a weeklong pause in fighting that began the following Friday. The release is truly bittersweet as there are still over 100 hostages still being held in Gaza. As we’ve learned more about what the hostages endured, the thought of so many still being in captivity is agonizing.
Though the situation remains challenging, we thank God for moving so powerfully in response to our prayers. Throughout this crisis, relationships between Christian and Jewish communities are deepening as we stand together. For example, in Auburn, Alabama, Pastor Miles Fidell of Auburn Community Church (ACC) hosted Bruce Pearl, head coach of the Auburn Tigers basketball team. Coach Pearl’s grandparents fled from Ukraine and Russia to Israel to escape the Holocaust. Pearl shared, “I didn’t go to Hebrew school learning that … He (Jesus) lived his entire life as a Jew, and that makes us family. That brings us together … Pray for those hostages for sure, but this is personal, ACC … Jesus’ family has been attacked in Israel … This book (the Bible) was written by Jewish men inspired by God. I stand with Israel. ACC, I ask that you also stand with me.”
At Berea Baptist Church in Rockville, VA, Daniel Lifshitz, from Kibbutz Nir Oz where one out of every four residents was kidnapped or murdered, spoke. Daniel is also the grandson of hostages Oded and Yochabed Lifshitz. His grandparents tried to build bridges with Gazans, routinely accompanying those suffering from cancer to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Oded is still in captivity. Daniel described their capture, sharing that his grandfather was shot in the hand before he could close the door to their safe room and how his grandmother was rolled inside a carpet and taken to Gaza while being beaten along the way. He implored the church to “take one of them—take a grandmother, take a baby, take a daughter, take a face—and think about it every morning and every evening.” The church then prayed with him and his family.
The situation in Israel remains complex. The impact of the temporary cease-fire is being debated by military experts and others. We are thankful for the release of these hostages, but how much momentum has been lost toward ridding Gaza of Hamas’ vicious rule? The need for continued, persistent prayer is clear.
Thanks again to all those who participated in the Weekend of Prayer for Zion’s Sake. Your support of this initiative enabled us to reach so many more than any of us could do alone.
American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) is a project of the US Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. While the “Weekend of Prayer” is over, daily prayer continues—join our Global Prayer Gatherings.