WASHINGTON (BP)–The Baptist World Alliance’s general secretary has urged Israel to withdraw from Palestinian areas and for Palestinian believers to condemn suicide bombers.
Denton Lotz, in a pastoral letter to Baptists of Israel and the Middle East April 8, wrote, “The forces of the Israeli government should withdraw from the occupied Palestinian areas,” while “the suicide bombers [should] be condemned.”
There are 62 Baptist churches and more than 5,300 baptized believers in Middle East churches in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, according to a BWA news release April 10.
Lotz, in his letter, appealed to the governments of Middle East, Europe and North America to use their influence “to call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied areas.” And, Lotz wrote, “we call upon our brothers and sisters in Palestine to condemn suicide bombers as an attack upon the dignity of humanity.”
Lotz called “upon the governments of the world who have tremendous influence and power to understand that the use of power without a concern for justice ultimately becomes totalitarian and unjust.” He also urged them “not to resort to violence, power, nor the sword, but to work for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict in the Middle East.”
Describing the current conflict as a part of the tragic “clash of civilizations” which has brought the Middle East and much of the world to its knees, Lotz noted that the idea of peace coming from a sword is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
“We are called to be a servant people,” Lotz wrote, calling on Baptists in the area to be servants of those who are suffering and those who have been tragically maimed and injured for the rest of their lives.
Lotz called upon Baptists worldwide to immediately begin prayer vigils for peace and justice in the Middle East. He assured believers in the region of the love and prayers of Baptists during this tragic war “which now engulfs the cities where our Lord Jesus walked and where he called for peace, righteousness and reconciliation.”
The full text of the pastoral letter is available on the BWA website, www.bwanet.org.