A Note From Chris- October 10, 2023

I wanted to get a note out to you early this week due to the sensitivity of the information and what is happening globally this week. As you have no doubt heard, the world has been rocked by what is now being declared a war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Extremist group Hamas. Below is a quick summary of the situation followed by a prayer guide. I hope you will join me in praying daily for the people in the Middle East.
To date, over 1,600 people have been killed (more than 1,000 civilians in Israel), with almost certainly more to come. The battlefield is towns and villages on and near the Israeli/Palestinian border in homes, streets, and places of business.
While the entire situation is beyond complicated, the tensions of a 16-year siege on the Gaza Strip that has left millions of Palestinians without any hope for their future has erupted in violence. 2023 has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in twenty years. On the other hand, Israel is declaring a commitment to protect their borders against the hatred toward their nation and terrorism against their people. It’s super messy and totally heartbreaking.
Naturally, thousands of families across Israel are terrified. Many of them are being called out of the reserves to fight. Others have had to flee into safe rooms to the sound of blaring sirens, unsure what may happen to them, their homes, or their families along the way. Thousands of Palestinians are also scared. Whether they are Israeli citizens, living in the West Bank or living in Gaza, and whether or not they agree with Hamas’ approach, their current reality and future is unknown. We know this violence will likely lead to more and more violence.
As is often the case in war, innocent families are being killed. Hamas knows they are killing innocent people, including other Palestinians in Israel. The Israelis know that attacks in Gaza will certainly produce civilian casualties. This is the horror of war.
Friends, we must pray for and long for a day when the violence will be no more. We must pray for a day when Israelis and Hamas can live together and side-by-side without violence, with dignity and freedom. Below is an adapted prayer guide from an online source customized for us. Perhaps copy/paste or print this out and make it part of your daily prayer time until this war is ended.

1. Pray for peace.

In Psalm 122, mentioned above, we see the simplest way to start our prayers: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’" (Psalm 122:6-8). Pray for God to bring peace to the region and to the heart of every Israeli and Palestinian.

2. Pray for relationships.

The book of Genesis records how the Jewish people descended from Isaac, and the Arab people from Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18). In God's heart is a deep desire to restore loving relationship to these two "brothers." Pray for a restored relationship between the historically broken peoples of Israel and Palestine.

3. Pray for forgiveness.

Modern Israel is far from being a "holy land" in its behavior before the Lord. The same kinds of sin befalling all modern nations—abortion, abuse, injustice, and sexual immorality—also exist in Israel and Palestine today. In Ezekiel 36, just before God promises to bring the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, He says: "I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" (Ezekiel 36:25-26). Join with this promise in praying for forgiveness and repentance in Israel and Palestine.

4. Pray for leadership.

The leaders of Israel and Hamas (terrorist group) each have an investment, responsibility, and opportunity as they represent their people. May God use each of them, despite their hearts for him, toward his ultimate aim in the region and among the people. May they lead with wisdom and not simply emotion.
Pray the words of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; He guides it wherever He pleases.”

5. Pray for salvation. 

All Israelis and Palestinians....Jews and Arabs....Muslims and Christians....all are created in the image of God. He loves each of them and longs for them to know the peace of Christ. Only Jesus can salvage the pain and brokenness in the Middle East and beyond. Please pray that the message of Christ will be proclaimed and received.

Ephesians 4
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
*Information and source cred given to multiple news sources, the Center for Israel, and Telos. 

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