Baptist workers call for prayer for Middle East conflict


By LESLIE PEACOCK CALDWELL, IMB

In silence since the May 20 ceasefire between Israel and Gaza ended 11 days of violence, Baptist workers among Israelis and Palestinians urge churches to look beyond politics and see people who need Jesus.

“We don’t have to choose sides,” says Ben Martin *, a worker in Israel. “These are really people who need Jesus. When people are killed, unless Jesus changed their hearts, they die and will spend eternity away from him.

While Baptist workers in the area are safe, many have felt the effects and fear that resulted from the 11 days of targeted attacks – another chapter in a long history of conflict between nations – and they mourn their friends. and neighbors.

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS PRAYER GUIDE

It’s a complex and complicated situation, Martin explains, with “good and bad on both sides.”

Martin says he hopes churches can adopt a spiritual posture consistent with the gospel: love for all. He says that if Christians are not careful, “we can start to hate, and hatred is not of God.

The need for believers to align their hearts with God’s is true for people on both sides of the Gaza Strip, echoes Andrew Weir *, who serves among the Palestinians.

Weir explains that it is difficult not to be partial to the groups of people that God has called them to serve among. As Baptist workers, focused on reaching a specific group of people, they develop a deep love and concern for their countries of service. But he says they are working to keep the mind of Christ and focus on all who are in need of the gospel.

“It is a struggle that those who work in the Middle East must constantly face,” says Weir. “It is a fight against our own hearts not to bow to politics but to let the heart of Jesus transform our minds so that we can see the world around us as it does.”

Weir, who is not currently in Gaza, says he was unable to make contact with his friends in the country due to the destruction of lines of communication. He must question himself and pray, especially for the Church in Gaza – believers who “yearn for freedom and autonomy but have little hope.” He says his heart breaks for the Church inside Gaza, but also for the vast destruction and loss of life.

“Christians across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are waging a war on darkness,” Weir explains, speaking of spiritual oppression in the region. “Yes, there are rockets and fighter jets, soldiers, deaths, missiles and political rhetoric. But this noise is so loud that it often drowns out the real fight against darkness.

Martin says that when Israeli believers pray for themselves, “we don’t forget to pray for those in Gaza.” Weir says the Church in Gaza remembers this too, and it’s a message Baptist workers want to emphasize.

“We want to represent the groups of people involved as real people, created in the image of God, and not as political puppets that the world uses to paint a picture of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Weir adds. “We want the Church in the United States to pray against darkness and loss.”

“It is our heart’s desire.”


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