FROM THE EDITOR

Each time another crisis rears its head in the Middle East, people from around the world call the International Christian Embassy for a personal travel advisory: "I've been planning to come to Israel for a long time. Is it safe, or should I wait until things quieten down?" they nervously ask.

Invariably I will urge them to come and not delay. It may be hard to believe, but even in the middle of the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi Scuds were raining down on Israel, it was a lot safer being in this country than in many other parts of the Western world. What's more, if Christian tourists were to wait until tensions subsided in the Middle East they would never make the journey so many of them rightly believe will be the experience of a lifetime.

Besides, this is a very exciting place to be, especially for the many Christians who believe that the events taking place are those foretold on hundreds of pages in their Bible. For them, Israel is a front row seat from which they can prayerfully view the setting of the stage for the final awesome acts of history.

But there are other, more important, reasons for Christians to come to Israel, especially during crises like the one this nation has just gone through.

Operation Desert Fox got underway as the festive season was picking up speed. For the second time in three months, British tour operators yanked hundreds of holidaymakers out of Eilat and flew them home, snatching tens of thousands of dollars out of Israel's pocket. The US and Britain ordered their diplomatic staff to leave, and advised their citizens against visiting.

Actions like these deal Israel a double blow. They rob the economy of the tourism revenue so vital to the country. And they amplify the sense of aloneness and isolation in the world already so deeply felt by many Jews.

Our advice to all Christians contemplating travelling to the Holy Land is: Come right away, and stay as long as you care to. You have nothing to worry about. You'll be perfectly safe. And you could not do much more to send a message of comfort and encouragement to the Jews as you demonstrate your faith in their God's commitment to keeping them safe.


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