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Churches pray for peace in Israel, members stranded in region

Pastor George Wright calls members of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for church members on a mission trip in Israel during devastating attacks by Palestinians that have killed more than 600 Israelis. (Facebook screen capture)

NASHVILLE (BP) – Christian believers across the globe lifted up prayers for the Israel as they grieve hundreds who were killed in terrorist attacks near Gaza on Saturday. The violence is also affecting churches who have groups in the country.

As of mid-afternoon Sunday, the Associated Press said more than 1,100 Israelis and Palestinians had been killed in the attacks and the following battles.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN Sunday morning: “This is the worst attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War in 1973 — 50 years ago. But there’s a big difference. That was a conventional war between countries, between armies. This, a massive terrorist attack on Israeli civilians — indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilians, thousands of rockets; men and women and children dragged across the border into Gaza, including a Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair; people gunned down in the streets, civilians.  So, you can imagine the impact this is having on Israel, and it should be something that revolts the entire world.”

In a statement on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is at war with Palestine in light of the attacks.

“I urge the public to follow strictly the directives of the military, the Home Front Command. We are at war and will win,” Netanyahu said.

In comments to Baptist Press on Saturday (Oct. 7), Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Brent Leatherwood called the scenes coming out of Israel are “horrific.”

“They serve as a stark reminder of all Israel has to endure merely for the right to exist. Condemnation of these deplorable acts by Hamas, targeting civilians and threatening Israel’s sovereignty, should come from all corners of the world. Vulnerable lives are caught up in the midst of this warfare and they need our urgent prayers.

“At the same time,” Leatherwood continued, “we must realize evil is advancing in multiple theaters across the globe right now, threatening to render even more innocent lives vulnerable to terror. Our leaders must be clear-eyed about confronting and halting the extremists and regimes that endanger the lives of defenseless image-bearers, no matter the context.”

As worshippers gathered in Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday (Oct. 8), Pastor George Wright pointed them to Psalm 1:22, calling Shades Mountain Baptist Church to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Eleven members of the church are traveling in Israel.

“In the midst of our prayers as a church we want to be praying specifically for a group of our members who are in Israel right now.

“They are safe. They are in a good spot,” he said.

It was a similar scene at First Baptist Knoxville (Tenn.), where Chuck Powell, minister to youth and families, called on the church to pray for a team of members who are in the Holy Land. Powell said there were 12 members on the trip, and they were safe.

He said the group’s “travels are taking them away from the more violent regions” of the country.

He called on the church to continue in prayer for peace in the region.

In a Saturday post on X.com (formerly Twitter), Florida pastor Zach Terry posted a video of a group from First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach on a tour bus.

In the post, Terry said, “Our team was touring Israel when war broke out with Hamas. Attitudes are good, we have confidence that our Lord causes all things to work together for good. Pray for Israel and pray God uses our presence here for His glory.”

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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