Saying someone “doesn’t have a prayer” often refers to when someone has no chance to achieve something. Sports. A test. Saving a life. But this year, thousands of Christians from all over the world turned that on its head specifically to be sure that through their prayers, millions of Israelis will have a chance to be saved through Israel’s blood supply.
In addition to donating blood in person, or providing the financial resources to sponsor one unit of blood, offering prayers for the safety and security of Israel’s blood supply, Magen David Adom’s National Blood Services Center, and the blood center’s dedicated staff is one of the most tangible things that can be done to protect all Israelis. Last week, a unique campaign to enable people to send their prayers and blessings to Israel’s national blood center and its staff went viral, something not typically good when speaking of blood. But in this case, viral is great.
The week before Passover, I had made a date to meet up with my friend, NY Times best-selling author Joel Rosenberg in Netanya. I arrived early and was excited to donate blood because it had been more than three months since my last donation, and I know going into the Passover holiday season that Israel typically has a greater need for blood donors.
Arriving to where the blood drive would be, my heart skipped a beat as I found myself in front of Netanya’s Park Hotel, the site of a particularly horrific terrorist attack on the first night of Passover in 2002. At the time, Israel was in the midst of the Second Intifada. Security was tight and the country was filled with fear due to terrorists who were blowing themselves up throughout Israel on a regular basis.
With Passover just days away, my mind flashed back to the Park Hotel massacre. Thirty people were murdered when a terrorist detonated a bomb in the middle of the dining room where hundreds were celebrating the Passover Seder.
As I donated blood some 100 yards from the site of this attack, I recalled how hundreds of pints of blood were dispatched from Israel’s national blood bank that night, to save the lives of the dozens who had been injured. Passover is a holiday where we celebrate our redemption from slavery in Egypt, when God commanded the Jews to spread blood on their doorposts as part of that. “When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” – Exodus 12:23
On a festival when we celebrate our freedom, where blood is so symbolic in our redemption, the blood spilled amid the Seder night carnage was a vast and grotesque contradiction. Donating blood in Netanya, around the corner from the Park Hotel, a week before Passover, was all especially meaningful. Blood saves. Blood is redemptive. It was then, and it still is.
During the holiday season, it’s necessary to maximize the number of people donating blood in Israel. Heart to Heart has been encouraging people visiting Israel to donate in person. We are grateful to those who also support our virtual blood donation program, sponsoring individual units of blood financially, making sure Israel always has a safe and plentiful blood supply. For information, please visit www.saving-lives-in-Israel.org.
What also struck home, donating blood around the corner from the Park Hotel, is that during holidays like Passover, extra staff is needed 24/7 to be on site, processing and storing the blood, and to be ready at a moment’s notice to send blood to the hospitals in the event of a major emergency. As Israelis plan fancy Seder meals and retelling of the Passover story, these people sacrifice spending the holiday with their family to keep all Israelis safe.
This year, Heart to Heart launched a new initiative offering everyone a special opportunity to participate in a most unique way. In celebration of Passover and Easter, thousands of people have sent prayers and blessings to the staff of Israel’s national blood center, who work tirelessly day and night. These prayers and blessings, sent through our website and posted for all to see, will also be presented to the staff of the National Blood Services Center, thanking them, and providing comfort and encouragement.
Prayers have come from at least 32 states in the U.S. and 21 countries, in multiple languages, so far. Some have offered prayers for the staff of the blood center. Others have offered prayers over the blood center itself, and the costly equipment used by the staff to keep the blood safe.
One prayer was as simple as “Psalm 91.”
Pastor Skip Heitzig wrote pointedly, “Our Heavenly Father, during this season of Pesach we are mindful that the blood of countless lambs was once spilled by which You delivered your people Israel from the slavery of tyrants. Thank you for the dedicated staff of Israel’s National Blood Center to ensure that many other lives are saved by those who volunteer their own life’s blood to make a difference for someone else in need. During this season we are reminded that blood saves lives as Yeshua said, Greater love has no one that this: that a man lays down his life for his friends. In His mighty name and for the glory of God.”
Dr. Mark Williams, Presiding Bishop and General Overseer of the Church of God, offered words of encouragement, “May the G-d of Israel cause His face to shine upon you as you celebrate His deliverance from bondage during this Passover season. May you also be reminded, the same G-d who brought your ancestors through the Red Sea is the same One who promised to bring you back from the nations of the earth and to stand by your side and protect you in these troubled times.”
Prof. Eilat Shinar, director of the Magen David Adom National Blood Services Center, expressed her thanks, “MDA Blood Services staff is uniquely dedicated to ensuring that Israel’s blood supply is always safe, of the highest quality, and ready for any emergency medical need. For most, it’s more than a job but a calling. Knowing that Christians throughout the U.S., and all over the world, are praying for us, for the safety of our facilities and equipment, and that we are able to be partners in providing a physical healing to those in need is deeply inspiring. We are profoundly grateful for this outpouring of love and care, as well as for the financial support through Heart to Heart. We thank Heart to Heart for initiating this exceptional effort.”
To express your gratitude, and provide prayers and blessings to support MDA’s national blood center staff, please join us at https://www.afmda.org/submit-prayer/.