Comfort in Dark Times of WarPublished on: 13.11.2023
By: Corrie van Maanen, Homecare nurse
From the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated with Christians from many nations, we were confronted with a shock. Suddenly there were sirens, racing to bomb shelters, and realizing the horrors of what had happened on 7 October. We suddenly went from joy to tears.
ICEJ Homecare immediately began to contact 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, others gripped by fear, depression or anger. Single mothers became very 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 gave nursing care to her father, as well as to her during a long illness. We also cared for her husband until his passing a few years ago. This lady lost many family in the cruelty of World War Two. I sat beside her, carefully listening to her trembling words. I 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 Psalm in Russian. Together we started reading. Slowly, she calmed down. After a few 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. Her health is not good and daily life was already a challenge for her. When I arrived, she was very upset 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 and food and water in the house. Was somebody nearby to contact? Was she 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 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. In their 80s, they had to climb down a ladder from the second floor. After a long, 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, Homecare also was blessed once again with suitcases of gifts from the nations 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. They 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 are sitting with people, listening to their worries, and encouraging 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.
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