Israeli cell phones have been buzzing almost constantly for the last few days, with special apps warning of incoming rocket attacks from Gaza. But foreigners who love Israel have repurposed the app, using it as a call to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.
Pastor Viktor Styrsky has been a pastor, music director, and pro-Israel activist in Northern California for more than thirty years and is Christians United for Israel’s (CUFI) Eastern Regional Coordinator. Despite being on the other side of the world, Pastor Styrsky had total empathy for the Israelis living near Gaza.
Rebecca Einstein Schorr wrote about her experiences in America with the app on her blog Kveller.
“Now, I know that having my phone bleep isn’t the same when my life does not depend on my ability to locate and get to a miklat (shelter) with my kids within seconds,” Schorr wrote. “Or, if we were at home, get to our mamad (protected room). Hearing the sound doesn’t strike fear in our hearts or give us nightmares,” Schorr wrote. “But what it has done is given us a reality check. It has given my children a sense of how disrupted daily life has been in Israel lately and, for those in the south, for the past 12 years.”
Lisa and Wayne Craig in Texas made the distinctly patriotic gesture of installing the Red Alert app on the Fourth of July in 2014 when Wayne was working at the Intel plant in Kiryat Gat and the Gaza War broke out. The app was literally a lifesaver as it warned them of hundreds of rockets raining down on Israel. They still have the app installed though for more sympathetic reasons.
“We cringe with anxiety to hear the siren alarm go off endlessly at times,” Lisa told Breaking Israel News. “Last night we put our phones on vibrate, but not to totally silence what was going on. It is hard to listen from afar and feel our hands are tied. We want to give Israel safety but we are feeling bewildered at the same time. Our reading Tehillim (Psalms) will continue as well as our prayers.”
Despite their experiences living under the threat of rockets, the Craigs plan on returning for a visit next month. Rockets or not.
Pastor Trey Graham of First Melissa in Texas has been to Israel many times but he keeps the alerts activated even when back home in Texas.
“I have the Red Alert app on my phone and watch the alerts as they come in,” Passtor Graham told Breaking Israel News. “They often wake me up in the middle of the night.”
The pastor sees the alerts as an opportunity for prayer.
“I pray for the protection of the innocent victims in their homes,” Pastor Graham said. “I pray for the IDF soldiers who will be fighting. I pray for the evil terrorists to be defeated. I pray for Israel’s leaders to make bold and wise decisions. I send messages of encouragement to friends who live in these areas under attack. I answer questions from American Christians who see news reports and want to learn more details.”
Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Israel365 heard the red alert sirens go off in his town of Bet Shemesh for the first time on Saturday. He is grateful for the prayers flowing in to Israel from around the world.
“It’s heartwarming to know that Christians around the world have downloaded the Red Alert app so they can feel what the Jewish people are feeling during times of crisis,” Weisz told Breaking Israel News. “We know that God feels our pain and walks with us in crisis. Psalm 91:15 tells us so, “I will be with him in distress.” Once again, our Christian friends are reminding us we are not alone and they are following Hashem’s word by also being with us in our distress. I encourage all Christians who care for Israel to download the Red Alert app so they turn their smartphones into prayer devices.”