By Arlene Bridges Samuels
On November 14, my husband of 47 years and I flew to Washington, D.C., excited to stand with Israel at the March for Israel rally on the National Mall. We are Evangelicals who joined with upwards of 300,000 Jews there. We traveled with a Christian organization called Passages, which on short notice recruited 700 Christian college students. Since its founding in 2016, Passages has hosted more than 11,000 students to Israel with a focus on developing educated, pro-Israel leaders for the future.
Passages converged at the Museum of the Bible, where we received excellent briefings, some of them from my good friend, Passages CEO Scott Phillips. Afterward, walking five blocks to the National Mall, we enjoyed the musical renditions of popular Jewish performers Ishay Ribo, Omer Adam, Matisyahu, and The Maccabeats.
Besides Passages’ student contingent, Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was part of the massive, unified crowd. Penny remarked, “Along with other Christians, I was honored to be here with our Jewish brothers and sisters who need our support.” On her first trip to Israel, Penny and other Christian leaders had visited Kfar Aza, a group I helped host on behalf of the American Israel Education Foundation. In the hours we spent at this beautiful kibbutz close to the Gaza border, we marveled at their delight living in their homeland—despite years of frequent rocket barrages from Hamas. We felt deeply touched by the love for their land. When Penny returned from Israel, she added support for Israel to CWA’s core issues which include the family, sanctity of human life, religious liberty, education, sexual exploitation, national sovereignty, and support for Israel.
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s USA branch also mobilized its members and joined in with 300,000 enthusiastic shouts of “Am Yisrael Chai”—Hebrew for “the people of Israel live,” which is an affirmation of the Jewish continuity throughout the millennia.
Throughout the afternoon, Jews and Christians together rang out in one voice for the one Jewish nation in the world!
The word “exhilarating” does not fully describe what we experienced at the largest pro-Israel gathering in American history! Members of Congress—Christian and Jewish, Democrat and Republican—stood together on the stage, among them recently elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.
Reverberating over the National Mall were comments from rabbis and university students, as well as heartbreaking stories from hostage family members who participated in the programming. Pastor John Hagee voiced his longtime support for Israel. Everyone gathered in peace, listening to speakers who brought us to tears and others who resounded with hope and commitment to stand with our ally, Israel. No violence, no hatred, no destruction of buildings or monuments. The obvious atmosphere of peace and friendliness among Jews and Christians showed a stark contrast to the opposite atmospheres of violent, crazed, and uninformed demonstrators who glorify the barbaric deaths that Hamas committed on October 7 against 1,200 people—mostly civilians.
Passages CEO Scott Phillips’s description of his experiences reflects mine. “We were met with countless hugs, high fives, gratitude and even tears, truly a humbling experience to stand at ‘such a time as this’ with our Jewish friends.”
As I have been advocating for Israel for almost 25 years, my personal blessings came due to the Passages T-shirt I wore emblazoned with “Christians Stand With Israel.” My best moments unfolded when many within the Jewish community walked up to me with big smiles and warm thanks. I replied to everyone who expressed their thanks, “You are not alone.” I felt that my longtime calling to advocate for Israel was affirmed with their smiles and gratitude!
The Israel Rally was timely. The pressures on Israel are intensifying at breakneck speed. An outpouring of compassion from Jews, Christians, and others is evident. However, deepening our prayers and practical help for the long haul is essential.
We Evangelicals must also suit up to pass along facts to oppose Hamas’s propaganda. Find your facts from trusted sources like CBN News. Be aware that the world media rush to report whatever Hamas announces—forgetting or not caring for facts—and that terrorists are not only addicted to hate and murderous, unholy barbarism. They are expert liars and not to be trusted under any circumstances.
In his newsletter, Mission Brief, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, IDF spokesperson to the international media, regularly gives operational updates. While Israel-haters lash out with lies and slander against the IDF, on November 21 Hecht included these illuminating words from Commanding Officer of the 36th Division, Brigadier General Dado Bar Kalifa: “During the last days of the fighting of the 36th Division in Zaytun, we constantly encountered an enemy hiding behind children, women and civilian infrastructure. The soldiers of the division, including soldiers of the Golani Brigade, the 188th Brigade and the Bislamach Brigade, operated in a complex war zone in an urban area, exposed terrorists who were hiding in civilian areas and eliminated many terrorists.”
Hecht must also report statistics that no Israeli wants to hear. Since Israel is such a small country, it is probable that every Israeli—whether Jewish, Ethiopian, Bedouin, Christian, or Israeli Arab—knows someone serving in the IDF and often those who have sacrificed their lives fighting an existential war. Lt. Col Hecht reported on Sunday November 19 that 59 soldiers have been killed in action since the IDF entered Gaza and a total of 383 have fallen since Hamas’s attacks.
Until ALL hostages are released, Hamas must free Jewish civilians, Jewish soldiers, and others from more than two dozen countries. They include Argentinians, Germans, Americans, French and Russians. You can immediately take a valuable action by clicking this link. It is a petition addressed to the United Nations, International Red Cross, Heads of State and G7 Governments, and Heads of State in every country which has hostages kidnapped into Gaza. The brainchild of Israeli Jonathan Feldstein, President of Gen123 Foundation, the petition FREE THE HOSTAGES NOW has already garnered multi-thousands of signers worldwide in less than 10 days. I have been working alongside my friend Jonathan since he envisioned the idea, but time is running short! Sign, then forward to your churches and everyone you know.
Fifteen seconds of your time to sign and a few minutes to forward and/or put on your social media makes you an instant Christian champion for the hostages and their families.
Our CBN Israel team invites you to pray with us this week, remembering at our Thanksgiving celebrations that our faith was birthed in Israel. Romans 11:17-18 NIV reminds us: “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches.”
- Pray for safety for the IDF in the network of 300 tunnels.
- Pray thanking God for lifesaving miracles that are unfolding among the soldiers.
- Pray for families and friends of hostages in Israel and abroad.
- Pray that Christians will sign and share FREE THE HOSTAGES NOW.
- Pray that media grow suspicious of any Hamas “facts” and then report fairly.
Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.