(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Apart from the Jewish people, there is no other people group in the world that supports Israel more passionately than Bible-believing Christians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pointed out that without the support of Christian Zionists the Jewish state may never have been established. When Theodore Herzl was rejected by the influential Jewish leaders at his time, it was Christian friends, such as Rev. William Hechler, who introduced him to world leaders who could support his cause.
The list of prominent Christian leaders who have played a key role in the birthing of the Jewish state is long but still many of them are forgotten. The Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1901, Henri Dunant, was not only an exceptional humanitarian and the founder of the International Red Cross.
He was also a passionate friend of Israel who dreamed of a Jewish homeland in Palestine even before Herzl had written Der Judenstaat
. He later befriended the latter and was part of the first Zionist Congress in 1897. In Britain, influential men of cloth as well as government ministers, such as Lord Palmerston and Lord Balfour, believed in restoring the Jewish people back to the land of their ancestors, and they did everything in their power to make it happen.
What unites these heroes of faith is the fact that they loved Israel and the Jewish people, not only in words but also in deeds. For Hechler and Dunant it was not enough to have discovered biblical truth and celebrate God’s promises, they were also willing to become part of their fulfillment.
Modern Christians could learn a lot from these men. Loving Israel can become a subculture where we preach to the choir and celebrate Israel within the four walls of our church while support for Israel in society at large and among the younger generations in particular is eroding. Hechler and Dunant did not keep their passions for themselves but were actively influencing mainstream culture and decision-makers for the Zionist cause.
Also in modern times we have many examples of Christians who have turned their love for Israel in to practical action. Many Christian Jerusalem-based ministries help out whenever there is a need. When the Iron Curtain came down in 1989 Christians from around the world were ready to help those Jews who wanted to make aliya.
For Swiss businessman Gustav Scheller it was simply not enough to watch prophecy unfold, he wanted to be part of it and so he gave up his successful travel business to help bring Jews out from Russia to Israel by ship. Over the years tens of thousands have been assisted in making aliya thanks to Scheller and his Christians friends.
In 2001, as new forms of antisemitism resurged in Europe and around the world, a few of us discovered that Christians who loved Israel did not have a voice in the international political arena. They were helping out in many wonderful ways by visiting the land and giving generously to social projects. But whenever Israel was attacked at the European Union or the United Nations, Israel and the Jewish organizations were alone.
A few years later I helped start a new organization to help give Christians a voice at a governmental level in the international capitals of the world. The challenges facing Israel today are not only from conventional wars but just as often diplomatic. Still to this day, Christians can help defend Israel and the Jewish people with prayer and advocacy. The trenches of the battle for Jerusalem will take place in the corridors of power in Brussels and New York just as much as around the borders of Israel. This is where Christians are again called to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem and to love Israel in the spirit of Dunant, Hechler and Scheller.
The writer is the founding director of European Coalition for Israel. For more info please visit www.ec4i.org. The writer can be reached at [email protected]sign up to our newsletter