Pastor Jay Bailey of Solid Rock Church in Columbus is concerned about Israel and the Jewish people.
“We are living in a very urgent time,” he said this week. “Antisemitism is growing everywhere, especially on college campuses. We saw growth in the 30s and 40s. It culminated in the Holocaust and six million Jews died.”
Of Israel, he said, “It has a population of about eight million and is surrounded by 600 million Arabs, many of whom, are hostile toward Israel.”
He called it a “tense situation.”
Bailey has made three visits to Israel, his latest was in December on a trip organized by Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States.
The mission of the organization, founded by John Hagee, is providing a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel.
Bailey said in six years the organization has grown to about a million members. The growth, he said, is almost “supernatural.”
Bailey, 48, a native of Jamaica and graduate of the University of Georgia, is in his ninth year at Solid Rock and his third year as director for Christians United for Israel in Georgia.
On his latest trip, Bailey and 34 Georgia pastors visited religious and historic sites, studied scripture with a rabbi in Jerusalem and delivered more than 20,000 letters of support to Israeli soldiers guarding the country’s northern border.
“Many of the pastors had never been to Israel before, but each one of us was reminded of the importance of standing with Israel and the Jewish people,” Bailey said.
The pastors, he said, needed to experience Israel and its people personally.
“Israelis live under constant threats and daily pressures and we must do all that we can, with all the strength that we have, and for as long as it takes, to support Israel and her people,” Bailey said
Dennis Lacy, pastor at North Highland Church in Columbus, was among the pastors on the trip. It was his sixth visit to what he calls a “magical place, the land of the Bible.”
This trip, though, was different.
“It was not the typical tour where you just see the sights,” Lacy said. “We got to interface with soldiers and go into Israeli homes including that of a renowned rabbi. We met with Palestinians too. It was really a behind the scenes look.”
Bailey said as a Christian he feels “morally bound” to support Israel.
“All of us have a deep, deep love and appreciation for Israel and the Jewish people,” Bailey said. “My love is motivated by an understanding of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. I have a keen sense of the biblical mandate to bless the nation of Israel. In the Bible, it says those who bless Israel will be blessed. God loves Israel and I should love it as well. My love of Israel is a way of honoring God.”
Lacy mentioned the same covenant when explaining his support.
While it might seem strange to some for Christians to embrace a “Jewish State,” Bailey said there are many sites in Israel “special to the hearts of Christians.”
He added, “The Jewish people are very responsive to the faiths of others.”
Bailey disputed the idea that some support for Israel might come because of fear of Muslims taking control.
Bailey said, “That is not true at all.”
Lacy remarked, “I have always been pro-Israel. That does not mean I am anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian.”
He said his church supports many Arab missions.
Bailey said politically Israel is important to the United States. One reason is Israel purchases much of its military wares from this country.
The other is that Israel is “the bastion of democracy” in the middle east.
Each year, a summit is held in Washington where Christians United for Israel supporters go to talk to members of Congress.
“We have found a lot of support on both sides of the aisle,” Bailey said.
The reaction Bailey received from other religious leaders on his latest Israeli adventure was that it was “overwhelming” and they were “emotionally, intellectually and spiritually challenged and touched by the experience.”