German-Swiss Tour
By Karin Lorenz

Our Israeli bus driver Tobi never experienced a group like this before. “I’m the tourist here,” he admitted, laughing as his foreign guests guided him. After all, the places he was driving to for the recent ICEJ German-Swiss tour group are well off the beaten tourist track. Some twenty Christian friends of Israel had come to show support for the country in these difficult days of war, venturing to areas where Christian pilgrims seldom go.

German-Swiss Tour

He drove us to harvest potatoes, bring gifts to an integration center and toys to a children’s home, plant oak trees on a therapy farm, and visit an artist’s workshop for senior citizens. Tobi often accompanied us to see the projects funded by the ICEJ, and soon he was just part of the group.

Tobi also came with us to the raided kibbutz Nir Oz, where nearly every house was looted or burned down by Hamas. Over 100 of the 425 residents were either murdered or kidnapped. As we walked through this place of death, we heard detonations in nearby Gaza, as the Israeli army had just blown up a terror tunnel.

Hamas leaders have vowed to repeat the massacre as soon as they can. Our experience with the Israelis was completely different. No Israeli we met spoke of revenge or retaliation.

There was another sentence we heard at every meeting: “Thank you for coming!” Israelis see images of anti-Israel hate marches all over the world every day. But they embraced us, took selfies with us, and held us in high regard for openly standing by Israel’s side in these difficult times. 

“You are now eyewitnesses and ambassadors. Talk about what you have seen,” said tour leader Stephan Lehnert, managing director of the ICEJ’s German branch, as he bid the tour group farewell.

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