• Working with the team at Hineni, feeding the hungry. | Photo: Bryce Turner

The whole world said “never again”. And yet here we are.

Bryce Turner - 24 November 2023

Evidently, flying into a war zone suggests one is either dodgy or crazy. At least the interrogations we received at several places along the journey would suggest so. No matter how many times I visit Israel, the trip is still a really long grind.

Just to hit the ground running, we started straight from the airport with a visit to the Alzheimer’s Medical Centre, which is struggling with an influx of refugee patients who have had to flee the south of Israel or the northern border. It is a great privilege to be able to visit in person and to be able to bless and encourage those who are facing this tragedy and its aftermath.

Then, travelling to Jerusalem, one could be forgiven for not realising that there is a war on except for the flags. Israeli flags fly everywhere. Tens of thousands. A unity I haven’t seen before. Not just from Jewish Israelis, though; Arab Israelis—some 2.5 million of them—are grieving too. Attacked and killed by the terrorists or their rockets, homes damaged or destroyed, these Israelis have been violated just the same as their Jewish neighbours. And then there’s the posters. They are everywhere. Each one is the face and name of a pawn in Gaza’s power games. Each one represents not just an innocent person being held in a terrorist’s lair, but the friends and family left waiting, longing, and aching.

We found our accommodation, checked in with the Hineni team, and then grabbed some sleep before reporting for duty the following morning.

Having come to serve in whatever way was useful, we had anticipated hours peeling potatoes and washing dishes. So far, we haven’t really done any of that, as it was quickly revealed that Hineni, the humanitarian restaurant in Jerusalem that C4I has supported for many years, had other uses for us.

And so we’ve fixed things. Lights, machinery/equipment, plumbing, electrical, we’ve been flat-out getting through Benjamin Philip’s long—and growing—list. It is great to be able to sort out some of these issues, allowing the foundation to operate unhindered.

As we sit together at lunch, surrounded by needy folk of all shapes, sizes and colours, we bring encouragement. There are people here who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany, escaping death camps, who remember the explosion of racism and prejudice that became known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass, 1938)

The whole world said “never again”. And yet here we are.

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