SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University professor Wave Nunnally and his wife Lacey are safely back in the U.S. after landing in Israel just hours before the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks began.
When the Nunnallys arrived in Israel, their taxi driver immediately informed them in Hebrew about Hamas launching 2,500 rockets into the country. The announcement left Nunnally and his wife Lacey perplexed until the driver reached over and turned on the radio.
“I looked at her and said, ‘OK, I guess you’re not pulling our leg’,” Nunnally told The Heartlander.
The Nunnallys were anticipating two groups to join them for onsite Bible studies, but by God’s grace, their flights remained grounded and never advanced toward Israel. As incoming rockets took flight from southern Lebanon and northeast Syria, the State Department sent out caution warnings until Wednesday, Oct. 11, when Hamas leadership issued a call for worldwide jihad and the killing of both Christians and Jews.
The Nunnallys were in Netanya, just 70 miles away from the Gaza strip where Hamas is based. The State Department finally issued warnings to evacuate Israel. Nunnally says their hotel was quiet until the evening, when Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted a volley of rockets.
The Iron Dome intercepts rocket attacks using radar detectors and missile launchers.
“We just heard, ‘boom, boom, boom’ and the ground and building shook,” Nunnally said. “Very quickly, the staff of the hotel whisked us down into the basement and into the bomb shelter, which also served as a synagogue. There was a service going on at that very time. We were there for a little less than an hour.”
Having resided in Israel during the early 1980s while Nunnally pursued his master’s degree in the Hebrew language, the couple were familiar with small conflicts in the region. But the Nunnallys swiftly grasped the gravity of the escalating situation as busloads of war refugees flooded into their hotel on the sun-drenched shores of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Nunnally reports that the hotel was suddenly swarming with people, and children were scattered all over.
“When I looked into the eyes of the mothers of young children you could see there was worry, fear, anxiety, terror and the sense of shell shock. Every time we would receive another volley of rockets, thank God they were all intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. I watched the mothers react. They jumped and looked to the door, they looked to the windows, and after they had scanned the horizon, they started looking for their children and drawing them close. We knew we were in a serious situation.”
Israel felt relatively safe during the 1980s. It’s much different today.
“It’s hard to get used to the sirens, constant patrols of helicopters and jets flying back and forth up and down the coast, the sounds of the Iron Dome intercepting missile volleys from time to time. It does feel different. There is a much greater sense of urgency and watchfulness.”
Today’s conflict, as explained by the Bible professor, is not about land, property, or economic oppression. Instead, it is the battle of a radicalized Islamic faction who hates Christians and Jews. The objective of Hamas is to establish an Islamic state worldwide, eliminating those who disagree.
“Their ideology is almost equal to that of Hezbollah, of Islamic jihad and ISIS. The people who usually carry out these acts of terror are pretty much pawns in a bigger scheme. The people at the top will call the shots and tell them where to go and who to kill. When there are acts of violence, there are all kinds of people caught in the crossfire.”
It is not uncommon for Muslims to be killed in conflicts with Hezbollah or Hamas. Neither terrorist regime shows mercy toward children and women.
The Nunnallys fled Israel and landed in Qatar with the help of Bluebird Airways. Nunnally expressed concern about Qatar’s significant support for Hamas, which worried both him and Lacey. Fortunately for the Nunnallys, they had a short layover in Qatar before their 15-hour flight to Chicago.
The journey home took a grueling 70 hours, adding to the difficulty of airport screenings in Chicago. He has a message for The Heartlander’s readers following the experience.
“I would encourage readers to follow the Bible and to recognize that God promised that those who bless His people, He will bless in Genesis 12. To follow the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 40, ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.’ Then also, Psalm 122 to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and in Isaiah 60 to bring out from the dungeons, those who are captive.”
The professor points out that the Apostle Paul said these people are still beloved and others should recognize that God has not rejected His people, but wants to yolk believers together in prayer for a resolution and protection of the innocent.
Nunnally is a professor emeritus of Early Judaism and Christian Origins, and closely studies the Holy Land with his Bible Unplugged ministry and Nunnally Institute of Hebraic Studies. He invites everyone to view his teachings on his YouTube channel.