Who are ‘Lone Soldiers?’
In Israel ‘lone soldiers’ are usually classified as persons who join the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and lack family in Israel. More specifically, these soldiers often include foreigners to Israel, orphans, and even those who were disowned by their families when they choose to enter the IDF. Further, as these soldiers are usually alone, they lack any non-Israeli governmental financial support that their families may have provided, along with the comforts of someone to come home to on leave.
Sadly, because of these factors, being a lone soldier often leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a general lack of belonging. Couple this with the financial pressures of a relatively low paying, high stress occupation, and many lone soldiers find it difficult to cope… a sad state considering that, so often, they leave everything and everyone they know to fight for land promised by God.
“…He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey…
“…bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.”—Exodus 13:5; 15:17
Thus, when a soldier, having surpassed all the obstacles of lack, solidarity, and distance to join, comes to find that they still require greater mental and financial support than they have, depression can sink in. Unfortunately, these feelings can not only affect their mental and physical health in the short term—potentially even lowering work performance in an already dangerous vocation—but it can affect their lives forever…
The heartbreaking, unthinkable reality is that suicide is often the end result. Yes, the number of suicides has lessened significantly over the past decade, but they are far from vanquished. Half a dozen to over a dozen a year is not uncommon*, leaving those around them—fellow soldiers, friends, and sometimes even family—to grieve and question everything they thought they knew. Yet, even if the number of suicides were reduced to as low as one a year, that one would be far too great—every life is too precious to waste.
“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”—Luke 12:24
Even with all of the ways the IDF and Israeli government are working to combat feelings of isolation and burdens placed upon lone soldiers, they can only do so much. Once soldiers are on leave—aside from moderate financial aid—the number of ways the IDF and Israeli government can help their lone soldiers lessen. This is why it is important for others to step in, to show them they are treasured and loved in ways the IDF and government cannot. We know that every life is valuable, and many times, a simple act of caring can mean the world to someone who is considering the unthinkable—restoring meaning to their lives as they see God working through you.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”—John 13:34-35
What can we do to help?
At Curt Landry Ministries we are striving to combat many of the issues faced by lone soldiers in Israel. Currently, through the support of people like you, we are providing lone soldiers a community base, where they can join together and have Shabbat meals. This, in a very small way, removes a little of the financial pressure, but more than that, it gives them hope. It allows them to join in fellowship with other soldiers who are struggling with the same issues… yet find joy in a common bond with people just like themselves. It brings to light a sense of self-worth that may have been lost to emptiness and despair. Yet, we try to go further to help these soldiers…
We give knife-proof vests to young women in the IDF patrolling Jerusalem—protecting them from a daily threat. We give socks, toothpaste, and other basic necessities to lone soldiers. We give monthly food boxes to their families. We supply high-grade boots. We help wherever a need is presented that we can fill…
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”—Matthew 25:37-40
Yet, while all this is important, it obviously is not enough when young men and women are taking their own lives—potentially three in the past few months. We have to be ever praying, ever seeking God to heal their hearts and to show us how we can better serve them. Because, we are meant to serve. We are meant to help God’s people.
As Matthew 12:18 said of Jesus, “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!” (emphasis added)
If Jesus was willing to serve, how much more are we meant to serve?
“…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him… And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” —Colossians 3:17, 23-24
Just knowing that someone out there cares about them, is thinking about them, and is willing to help AND pray, is a blessing to so many of these young men and women. It brings a smile to a face ridden with worry and despair, and gives their souls hope. Hope that what they are doing truly matters, and that their lives hold value, not only for those they are protecting, but those thousands of miles away.
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”—Luke 6:38
There is always more that can be done, more that we can be doing, yet, as we pray and ask for God’s guidance, and give out of the love God has put in our hearts… we truly make a difference.
Some make a difference by putting on a uniform—others, by providing for those who do. Each providing a necessary function for the other as we fulfill God’s Word for each other.
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is written as a decree in the Word, one we are meant to fulfill. If we ignore the troubles of those who act as her guards on earth, are we completely fulfilling that decree? Are we not, in some way, taking the easy route as we leave young men and women to struggle on the frontlines without our help or prayers… expecting them to carry the burden alone?
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
prosperity within your palaces.’”
“Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.”—Psalm 82:3
Let us join together as One New Man and give hope. Let us say to those on the frontlines, “You are not forgotten. We are here for you.” Let us help as we can, in prayer and action, for the glory of God!
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”—Matthew 7:12
*While the statistics given include ALL IDF soldiers—separated statistics of lone and regular IDF soldiers not yet including this years suspected suicides—the percentage of lone soldiers committing suicide is higher per capita. With approximately 30% of all suicides being from the 4% who are classified as lone soldiers. (https://www.whytheyfell.com/)