Israel Welcomes Evangelical Christian Volunteers Amidst Current Conflict

Israel Welcomes Evangelical Christian Volunteers Amidst Current
Dutch volunteers Anja van der Stok, left, and Jannie Slim, right, pick lemons on a farm in southern Israel, as part of a post-Oct. 7 solidarity tour, Monday, March 4, 2024. - Copyright © africanews Maya Alleruzzo/Copyright 2023 The AP All rights reserved

Israel Welcomes Evangelical Christian Volunteers Amidst Current Conflict

Evangelicals have long been fervent supporters of Israel, especially in the United States, where their political influence has significantly shaped the Israel policy of recent Republican administrations. In the past five months, during the Israel-Hamas war, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of evangelicals visiting Israel to volunteer and support the war effort.

Tourism to Israel has seen a decline since October, with up to half of the current visitors coming with faith-based groups, according to the Tourism Ministry. Evangelicals, driven by the belief that Israel plays a pivotal role in an end-times prophecy leading to the return of the Christian Messiah, have been actively participating in volunteer trips.

The Tourism Ministry estimates that around one-third to half of the approximately 3,000 daily visitors expected in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. This marks a significant change from the pre-war period, where around 15,000 visitors arrived in Israel per day.

A study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem revealed that nearly half of Israelis volunteered during the early weeks of the war. However, with many local volunteers returning to work and school, international visitors, particularly evangelicals, have stepped in to fill the gaps.

In the United States, evangelical Christians have made support for Israel a top priority, especially during presidential election years. They have been vocal in backing Israel’s handling of the conflict, and their influence has added pressure on Republicans to align not just with traditional support for Israel but with beliefs rooted in the Bible.

Evangelical organizations, such as Christians United for Israel (CUFI) led by Pastor John Hagee, have played a significant role. CUFI claims to have raised and dispersed over $3 million to support Israeli first responders, healthcare workers, and survivors of attacks.

Despite the challenges posed by the war, faith-based solidarity missions, like the ones organized by groups such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, are seen as morale-boosting and potentially contributing to the revival of overall tourism in Israel.

As the conflict continues, Israel faces international pressure to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Aid groups report widespread displacement and a quarter of the population on the brink of famine. Amid concerns, faith-based solidarity missions are not only providing practical support but also emotional reinforcement for Israelis enduring the ongoing challenges.

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