Jay* doesn't have flashbacks, but he does think often about the day he saw a neighborhood of fellow Israelis get gunned down around him.
"There were bullets flying over our heads," he said. "It was intense urban warfare."
He and fellow soldiers were pursuing the shooters from house to house as the wounded lay around him. A little boy got the first bullet. A little girl, fleeing into a tent set up for the Feast of Tabernacles, took one next and fell face forward into the tent.
"We had to clear all the houses and all the tents set up for the feast, just to make sure shooters weren't hiding in them," Jay recounted.
That was several years ago, but now every year when he sees the tents or builds them for his family, he remembers the day he walked through them with his gun drawn. And he thinks of the teens who did the shooting—17- or 18-year-olds—and he wonders one thing: "What kind of message did they get from those who invested in their lives? What kind of message of anger and hate in their lives made them willing to give themselves to kill and avenge?"
And he committed to do everything he could to teach a different message -- one of hope and unity in Jesus Christ.
Jay, a Messianic Jew, had for years already spent time reaching across the Jewish-Palestinian divide to train youth leaders in the Palestinian territories. He also had long been committed to building relationships with teens who live there and connecting them with Jewish youth leaders and teens.
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