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As rockets fall, prayers for ‘true peace’ rise from Christians

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Amid the shouts of fear and fury as rockets rain down on Israel and Lebanon, a deeper cry is rising to God from Christian believers in the Middle East: “Lord, bring peace!”

Not just political or military peace, which may or may not ever come, but the peace only God can bring through Jesus Christ.

“Last night our family fell asleep to the sounds of bombs and woke up this morning with more of the same,” one Christian believer in the region reported after days of attacks. “But we know without a doubt that God is on His throne, and He is pursuing the nations for Himself.

“Pray that God’s light will shine through followers of Jesus during these days and nights of trouble in the Middle East,” he said. “Ask that believers in Jesus will find rest and hope in the promises of God’s Word. Pray that they will have His perspective and guidance to know how to minister in Jesus’ name to the many hurting people around them.”

And there are so many who are hurting.

The bright, shiny new Lebanon that emerged in recent years from the rubble of a long civil war is now a war zone, caught in the crossfire between Hezbollah guerrilla fighters and the Israeli military. Daily life throughout northern Israel is being held hostage to air-raid sirens and the rush for cover from hundreds of Katyusha rockets. In Gaza, hungry Palestinian families huddle in their homes as fighting goes on between Hamas-led militants and Israeli forces. In Syria, Christian believers wonder if the fighting will spread to their homeland next.

“It’s escalated in a way that I don’t think anybody could have imagined,” said a Christian observer close to the situation in Lebanon. “The thing I really find sad is that it’s between Hezbollah and Israel, not the Lebanese people. Lebanon, true to its history, has alternated between being a playground for the Middle East and a battleground.

“Peace is something that has been really illusive for the Lebanese. They talk a lot about it, they value it, they search for a peace provided by the rulers, politicians and governments around them,” he continued. “We need to pray that through this situation, the Prince of Peace would reign, because there is no peace in the Middle East. With all the factors that are in play, if we keep chasing after ‘Middle East peace,’ we’re always going to be disappointed. We know that nations are going to war against each other. Ultimately, whether in prosperity or in war, we want the people to know true peace. They don’t know that. They don’t realize that only Jesus can bring joy in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation.”

The observer also asked for “supernatural intervention in the lives of the leaders of all these parties -– Israeli leaders, even Hezbollah. Sometimes we fail to pray for things that seem completely out of the realm of possibility, but our God is sovereign.

“God knew that this was coming. God is standing in the midst of this. We need to look for His hand at work. We need to pray that war will not stop the things God is doing. We need to give Him enough credit that He’s going to work through the conflict. There are Lebanese believers that are smack in the middle of south Beirut where the bombs are falling. Pray that their light will shine brightly during this time.”

John Brady, who leads Southern Baptist work in Northern Africa and the Middle East, emphasized that Christian workers in the region are “not here to take sides. Our tasks are to pray and minister in the name of Jesus Christ, so one day the people of these troubled lands will know the Prince of Peace.”

Currently, all Southern Baptist workers in the region are accounted for and safe, he said.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Christians are delivering food and New Testaments to shelters housing civilians fleeing the fighting in southern Lebanon. They’re asking for prayer for their safety and the continuation of this ministry to terrified refugees. Many Lebanese Christians living in Beirut’s southern suburbs and elsewhere in southern Lebanon remain cut off from escaping the area because of the ongoing bombing of roads and bridges out of the area. Pray for their safety and their ministry to others amid the chaos.

Other reports and appeals for prayer are coming from throughout the Middle East:

— Israelis have experienced attacks from inside and outside their land for nearly 60 years. Pray that they will at last come to know peace -– inner peace through Christ as well as peace for their nation.

— Pray for Palestinian Baptists, who continue a long-term project of delivering food to refugee camps in Gaza -– a ministry that has become all the more important as ongoing fighting shrinks food supplies in the densely populated area.

— “Shiite Muslims are located all over the Middle East — in countries like Lebanon and Iraq — and many of them are experiencing the trauma of war right now,” another believer reported. “As you see them on the news and hear about the latest explosion in one of their neighborhoods or mosques, ask that they will be comforted. Pray that they will come to know Jesus and learn to walk in His ways. Pray for the Shiite Muslim leaders in the countries of Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Ask that they will miraculously encounter Jesus and begin to listen to His instructions. Pray that they will respond to Jesus’ invitation to come into His sheepfold, so that millions of Shiites will hear the Good News and be able to walk in the light of His love.”

Hatred, fear and violence are potent forces, particularly in the Middle East, but they cannot defeat the power of prayer. Middle Eastern believers are claiming that power -– and they hope Christians around the world will join them in this dark hour.

    About the Author

  • Erich Bridges