May 24 Blog -Nova Music Festival Memorial - Photo Credit - Sarah Fern

We Are Witnesses: Testimony of My Time in Israel During the War

In Blogs, Current Affairs by Sarah Fern13 Comments


I remember the first time I realized I was not confident I could be brave enough to hide the Jewish people like Corrie ten Boom and her family did during World War II. When I was a single college student, the choice seemed easy. Years later, as a wife and mother, I realized such courage would require risking not only my life but my family’s too. I remember praying that, if the time came, God would give me the strength to do the right thing.

Several weeks ago, I was invited on a trip to Israel. Although I wanted to go, I quickly dismissed the offer—after all, a war is going on, and I am a wife and mother. My husband thought otherwise. He knew the importance of this trip and assured me he and our son would be fine. And while going to Israel today is not nearly the same as hiding Jewish people during the Holocaust, the trip taught me why supporting the Jewish state with tangible actions matters so much.

Becoming a Witness

October 7, 2023, changed my life forever, even though I am neither Jewish nor an Israeli. I made myself watch the GoPro video footage Hamas released as they shot and mutilated people all over southern Israel. I saw women and children kidnapped. I watched little boys and girls ask the terrorists if their moms and dads, lying in pools of blood, were truly dead. I saw people dancing in the streets as dead Jewish bodies were paraded through Gaza.

Hamas proudly recorded all of these atrocities, and I watched them with angry tears. But going and seeing the actual sites of these evil acts? I wasn’t sure I could take it.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, “I believe firmly and profoundly that whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness, so those who hear us, those who read us must continue to bear witness for us. Until now, they’re doing it with us. At a certain point in time, they will do it for all of us.” I became a witness to October 7.

Death and Destruction Up Close

I am still processing everything I witnessed on my trip. While in Israel, I walked through an open field at the Nova Music Festival memorial, where Hamas terrorists paraglided and drove armed trucks into a sea of young people, killing almost 400 souls indiscriminately. Now, the site is a memorial.

As I walked, I tried to look at the many pictures of faces and memorabilia with which families and friends decorated the site for their lost loved ones. I wept for those lives that were taken, many of whom were in their late teens and early 20s. I don’t know if any of them were believers in Jesus. I prayed for their families and friends, still mourning and processing their horrific losses.

Then, I heard something I had heard only in movies: A bomb dropped. It was the day Israel entered Rafah, and we were only a few miles from the Gaza border. The reality of Israel’s proximity to its neighbors who hate them and want them wiped from the earth could not be ignored. 

From the massacre site, we drove along the highway to a car cemetery. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Black spots still lined the highway on both sides, where cars had been riddled with bullet holes and set on fire with a powerful accelerant, with no hope of anyone surviving. These cars were full of people fleeing their homes and the festival. Most cars were burned beyond recognition. I stopped in my tracks when I saw a charred ambulance in which 16 young people hid during the attack at the Nova Festival. Surely no one would attack an ambulance, I naturally thought. Yet, all 16 people were killed. 

In the wheat-field-turned-cemetery, people stopped us and thanked us for coming to be witnesses to the horror of October 7. All week long, Israelis stopped our small group of Americans to show us their appreciation.

The Heartbreak of Betrayal

In the midst of unimaginable sadness, we were taken to Kibbutz Erez on the Gaza border and told a story of triumph. This kibbutz (community) was not infiltrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. We met the head of security and learned how his brave team living in the gated community saved hundreds of lives. For hours these men held off terrorists who shot and bombed the security fences, trying to gain access to the community. 

What the Jewish people saw as a means to achieve peace with their neighbors was actually a Hamas plot to infiltrate, gather information, and attack.

Many do not realize that these Hamas terrorists had specific assignments. They received instructions on how to enter the communities and where people would be hiding. They had detailed papers listing which houses had dogs, where guns and ammunition were hidden, if there were safe rooms inside the homes, and more. How did they obtain such intimate information?

Many of these communities allowed Gazans an opportunity to work inside their communities, where they were paid far more than the average wage in Gaza. What the Jewish people saw as a means to achieve peace with their neighbors was actually a Hamas plot to infiltrate, gather information, and attack. 

Standing With the Apple of God’s Eye

The world wants to diminish what Hamas did to Israel on October 7 or to equate it with the nation’s response in taking out the terrorist organization in Gaza. But the truth I witnessed in Israel contradicts ideas the mainstream media and social media has fed us these last seven months. Is the war truly justifiable? Are the Jewish people acting like victims but really the oppressors? Are they trying to take Gaza for a land grab? Stripping away everything at the surface, we see Israel striving for peace and being forced to eliminate its enemy because of Hamas’s open promise to perform the October 7 massacre again and again. 

Never would I have believed standing up for Israel and the Jewish people in my lifetime would require such bravery. Yet, here we are. Israel will always be the target of the enemy because it is through the Jewish people that God will pour out Satan’s eternal punishment. Now, we, believers in Jesus and supporters of Israel, need to speak out.

Never would I have believed standing up for Israel and the Jewish people in my lifetime would require such bravery. Yet, here we are.

I remember reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I learned that Corrie, her sister Betsy, and her father all were caught and sent to concentration camps for protecting the Jewish people during World War II. Their care for the Jewish people didn’t begin only once the Nazis entered Holland. It came from an overflow of what they knew and believed in God’s Word.

Corrie’s words resonate with me now like never before. “‘Those poor people,’ Father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away. ‘I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye.’”

May we stand up for and stand beside the Jewish people now because we are all witnesses.

About the Author
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Sarah Fern

Sarah is the Media Content Strategist for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. She lives in the Knoxville, TN area with her husband, Martin, and their son.

Photo Credit: Sarah Fern

Comments 13

  1. Thank you for sharing. Israel, and the ministry of Friends of Israel are in my prayers constantly. Love in our Saviour’s name.

  2. Thank you for your article.
    It’s so obvious to us who know the Lord who the real enemy is and how he wants to eliminate God’s chosen nation. However, the enemy has blinded the world…… in Corrie ten Boom’s father’s sentiment, I feel sorry for those who choose not to see the truth.
    Come quickly Lord Jesus.

  3. Sarah, We relived our journey while reading your detailed and inspiring blog. Thank you so much for putting it all together.
    Russ and Naomi Breiner

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing this. Definitely a supporter of Israel. I’ve been wanting to go there for years. Maybe like you, i should go ahead and go.

  5. How does one become part of a group to be a witness, to go to Israel as you did and see the horrific sites in person, to become a part of it, to testify?

  6. That’s an amazing testimony Sarah, its succinct, captivating and I believe it is blessed. I am an Irish Christian. I am so ashamed of my countries current stance on ‘touching the apple of God’s eye’. We too will be punished for this. I believe Ireland is drinking from it’s pagan past and our nation will pay the consequences. I hope your testimonial is heard wide and far, it is prophetic.

  7. Sarah, what a great opportunity you had to be a witness to the truth. You expressed it beautifully in this blog entry.

  8. Sarah, thank you for your bravery in going and witnessing the truth of the atrocities heaped upon the nation of Israel. Your blog just inspired me to pray more fervently for this nation!

  9. Thank you so much, Sarah, for your courage and resolve to go to Israel in spite of the difficulty during this perilous time. I was part of the 2022 Fall Tour, and very thankful I didn’t delay the trip to 2023! So grateful for that amazing experience.
    I pray daily for Israel and for The Peace of Jerusalem.
    But I am aghast at the behavior towards Israel by our current administration! Clearly they don’t understand the consequences of “touching the Apple of God’s Eye”. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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