Girl on Fire: Fearless Passion for God and Israel

Siraya Chambers might be young, but her bold faith far exceeds her age. Connected to CUFI by her Bible teacher as a high school senior. Siraya fell in love with CUFI when she attended Summit in 2015. She came back from Summit on fire and founded a CUFI on Campus chapter at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

If one word could describe Siraya Chambers, it would be passion. She bubbles over with a zest for life that is infectious. Another word to describe her would be tenacious. She’s one of those people for whom every roadblock is just a challenge to overcome the problem with a creative solution. One example of this would be her determination to found her CUFI on Campus chapter, despite a lack of support from other students and the fact that she was only 18 and brand-new to campus with no connections to the university faculty. It would have been easy for her to give up after the initial setbacks and move on to other priorities, but instead she persevered and found a way to make it happen.

Siraya began praying to visit Israel right after her first Summit experience, and soon two opportunities arrived. She chose the Bonhoeffer Fellowship because she wanted to see Israel from a Christian perspective, and that decision led to a life-changing experience.

Before going to Israel, Siraya had loved studying the Bible. It was through reading the Bible for herself that she first became passionate about Israel, after seeing how clearly Scripture describes God’s great love for Israel and the Jewish people. When she arrived in the Holy Land and finally saw it in person, her faith came alive. She looked around and realized that she was standing in the very places where God had spoken directly to humanity and revealed His divine plan for the world. That realization filled her with a fresh passion and a new perspective on her faith. Suddenly the Bible wasn’t just words on paper. It was real.

Meeting Pastor Khoury in Bethlehem also made a huge impact on Siraya’s faith. She’d read about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and how he fearlessly stood up for the Jewish people against the Nazis in Germany. Bonhoeffer had done what he knew to be right despite having to stand alone as other Christians kept silent out of fear or indifference. Siraya recognized that same courage and commitment to the truth in Pastor Khoury, who has faced years of persecution from his own community for daring to be an Arab Christian who loves Israel and the Jewish people. Inspired and challenged by his modern-day example of the Bonhoeffer spirit, Siraya began to contemplate what it means to be willing to do exactly what the Word of God says with no excuses.

As she thought about how Bonhoeffer had lived, Siraya admired his willingness to sacrifice everything, even being willing to die and put his family at risk, for the sake of doing what God told him to do. She realized that such bold no-nonsense faith is sadly lacking in today’s Christian leaders here in the US. So many are tempted to water down the truth or simply close their eyes to uncomfortable realities because they don’t want to get involved in controversy. But that isn’t authentic Christianity. The faith Bonhoeffer had was radical, but it was no less than what every single Christian is called to practice.

Learning about Bonhoeffer’s life, and then seeing Pastor Khoury live out that same courageous faith in Israel today, caused Siraya to make a commitment at 19 that will forever alter the course of her life. Had she not gone to Israel, she would have likely still been a passionate lifelong Christian. But now she isn’t satisfied with having an ordinary faith. Now she looks for opportunities to take a bold stand for God and for Israel on a daily basis.

Being a Bonhoeffer Fellow during this school year has given Siraya a deep sense of conviction about what it means to be Christ-like and step outside of her comfortable bubble to follow Him regardless of the cost. Her goal now is to be bold in every area of her life as she leans on God and trusts Him.

Since coming home from Israel, Siraya has seized every opportunity to put her newly-energized faith into action. She looks for ways to bring up Israel in daily conversations with her peers and coworkers and during the Sunday School class she teaches. She’s only 19, but she’s already doing her best to impart a biblical love for Israel into the younger generation at her church. And on her campus, she hasn’t shied away from engaging with people who are anti-Israel.

\She noticed one man near her campus who kept posting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti. Although not a student, his messages were catching the attention of the students, and Siraya decided to try talking to him about why he felt that way. Instead of approaching him in anger, she approached him in love and with a friendly attitude to try to understand why he didn’t like Israel. The resulting conversation was surprisingly positive, and she was able to share her personal experiences in Israel that contradicted some of his assumptions. Siraya walked away feeling that God may have used her to dispel some of the myths and lies this man had heard and believed as the basis for his prejudice.

Siraya is a perfect example of the way God so often uses love to destroy hate, if we only have the boldness to speak the truth with love for the person who fights against us. With young leaders like Siraya coming out of CUFI on Campus, we can win this battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation.