Worship leaders Mark and Carrie Tedder recently held ‘Concerts of Hope’ for Arabs and Jews in Israel. Their mission was to play healing music over troubled souls, but when the air raid sirens sounded, their own faith was put to the ultimate test 


You just sat and waited for the rockets to fall on you?!

My wife Carrie, and I have recently returned from spending nine weeks in Israel.

Our mission was to play music to the troubled, traumatised, and broken souls of the land, following the attack on 7 October.

Some have wondered if we played our worship concerts in churches and for Messianic believers, to encourage them. And while we did play a couple of 24/7 prayer houses, for the most part our mandate was to play the harp over troubled souls. We did not play in churches; we took the music to the people in kibbutzim, hospitals, hotel lobbies, courtyards, beaches and theatres. Both Arabs and Israelis came to our ‘Concerts of Hope’.

We arrived on 1 April, armed only with love, our instruments, a small PA system, and a selection of songs in Hebrew.

When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he told them to “go to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6). That was what our mission was all about. 

Holocaust Survivors

Playing a concert for Holocaust survivors

The Psalmist, David, was also our model. When King Saul was tormented by an evil spirit, the Bible records, “David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would feel relieved and become well, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (1 Samuel 16:23, NASB)

We knew the evil images of war, the distressing sounds of sirens and the horror of people having to flee their homes were the source of trauma in young and old minds alike. We were keen to try something we’ve done in other restricted countries; to play music over the traumatised in public places. It was scary!

The Lord is our refuge

In the weeks that followed, we cried with people, embraced them, and listened to their stories. 

We held workshops for worship leaders, musicians and artists from the Galilee, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem teaching on subjects such as ‘Music is Medicine’ where we unpacked the philosophical and spiritual aspects of music, noting the power it has to alleviate mental and emotional trauma. 

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But within a few days, our mission was interrupted. The US State Department issued a text to all American citizens living or visiting Israel, saying that an attack from Iran was imminent. 

My wife Carrie and I were in a deep sleep when our phones started vibrating with numerous text messages from friends and family members around the world asking, “Are you guys ok?”, “Can you get the next flight out?”, “Please stay safe!”

We immediately scanned local news sources in Israel and learned that over 300 missiles and drones had been launched directly at us, and that Jerusalem should expect impact within the next hour. 

What did we do? How did we prepare?

I was asked that question two weeks later by Amit, a school teacher working in the town of Sderot, just 1 kilometre from the Gaza border. 

She wanted to know: “What exactly did you do?”

As the sirens blared across Jerusalem, Carrie and I had sat on the sofa and read the first four verses of Psalm 91:

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

After reading this, we sent voice messages to our two boys and grandkids. Then we said a prayer, kissed, embraced and shared some very private words with one another. And then…we waited.

“You mean you just sat there and waited?!” Amit exclaimed.

“Yes, we were ready,” I replied.

“Ready for what?” Amit asked.

“We know what comes next. We’ve lived a good life, have two boys and seven grandkids that are taken care of… and we have hope!”

“How can you be so certain?” Amit asked with hollow eyes and a longing gaze.

That conversation was repeated almost daily with secular Arabs and Israelis we engaged with, as well as many Orthodox Jews. They were all surprised that we came to Israel in a time of war to play music. And they wanted to know what motivated us. 

The Gospel shines


Our faith was put to the ultimate test the entire nine weeks. As Christians we have a choice to run towards the battle, or retreat and do nothing and wait for the outcome. For whatever reason he chooses, God seems to always push Carrie and I to take worship where the risk seems highest; North Korea, Tibet, China, North Africa, Cuba, Myanmar…To us, it has always been part of our mandate and desire, to take the gospel to some of the darkest, remotest parts of the planet.

When it comes to the politics of this conflict it is very easy, as we say in America, to take the position of an “armchair quarterback”, and judge from the comfort of our homes. I want to take a different path. I am a songwriter, author and worship leader, not a politician, diplomat or advocate. If you have a strong position either way on the rights and wrongs of this war, I respect that. My mission was simply to serve those I met who were broken, traumatised, and in need of healing. 

The truth is that in war, no one really ever wins. Battles may be won, but ideologies and beliefs go back thousands of years. There are no easy answers. But as Christians we can and must pray for all the peoples of this land that God loves. 

Lord have mercy.