Gilad Shalit speaks with his family by phone moments after being released Tuesday. (photo credit: Reuters)

Millions of Israelis are rejoicing today after one of their beloved sons has been returned home after being held hostage for more than five years by the Hamas terrorist group. IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released Tuesday in a deal brokered by Egypt. He had been held by Hamas for a horrifying 1,941 days after being captured on June 25, 2006 in an attack that triggered the Second Lebanon War. The deal is not without controversy, however. Israel has released 477 Palestinian prisoners in the first swap, and will ultimately release more than 1,000. Some have been involved in deadly attacks on Israeli citizens and not a few Israelis are deeply concerned these terrorists will be back to capture, torture and kill more Israelis soon.

Those issues will be debated in the weeks ahead, but today is truly a day to rejoice. The Joshua Fund has been encouraging evangelical Christians around the world to pray for the Lord to protect Gilad’s physical, spiritual and emotional health and praying that the Lord would set him free — and pray for the Lord to comfort and strengthen his family and friends — all this time. Today, we are rejoicing with the nation of Israel that the God of Israel is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God. We’re also praying for the protection of all Israelis in the days and months ahead and for wisdom for the Prime Minister and his security advisors.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners, yo proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

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