The polarizing subject capturing attention – and increasing division – around the world: the Israel-Hamas War. But has the church forgotten about our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ? In a recent statement, Reverend Jack Sarah expressed the following:
“The feeling we are getting here is that even the Christian world has left us. Very few are praying equally for the Palestinians and the Israelis. What we need from Christians all over the world is a message of encouragement. We are so discouraged by the situation. We are here anyway; we will last here because we believe that God is calling us for our people, the Palestinians. I say: Love Israel and its neighbors, including the Palestinians.”
In such a heartbreaking situation as this, in an era where voices are amplified on social media more than ever before, it’s oftentimes easy to make blanket statements, choose sides, cast judgment, and treat this entire situation as if it is clear-cut, black and white. We are humans; nothing is black and white! And with so much information, misinformation, and blatantly conflicting information being presented, it’s difficult to know what is really going on, let alone what people’s intentions and motives are.
As believers, we need to carefully consider our stance – especially about topics we realistically know so little about. Even though I was born in the Middle East and have a heart for the people there, I still lack sufficient knowledge to grasp the full scope of all that is happening. There are a number of political issues and decades of history between these people groups that are quite foreign to me. And I am certainly not equipped to make political or military decisions for Israel or Palestine.
I understand that these decisions are complex; I also know that actions need to be taken to protect the vulnerable and bring stability. But rather than making 'expert' analyses and casting judgment from my couch, I must honor my biblical obligation – namely through prayer, advocacy, and financial support to those who need it. It behooves us to remember the important encompassing message in John 8: judgment is the Lord's. He is the One who knows all things and sees into the hearts of every human.
In this current conflict, there are faithful Christians on both sides – those in Palestine and those in Israel. They are all important to the Kingdom, loved and valued in the eyes of Christ Jesus, boldly leading others to salvation and loving each other. In a meeting with leaders from Christian ministries in Israel and Gaza, I saw no judgment. They prayed for each other – and for all those involved on both sides. They love and have compassion for each other.
As the rest of us are sitting in the stands of this global media amphitheater, judging and taking sides – these righteous individuals, even while their countries are brutally at war, are showing us all the example of real love. We are, therefore, compelled to act justly. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ – feeling forgotten by the worldwide church! We must love and pray for both sides. When we merely pray one-sided, we don't pray all of God's heart into a situation. Jesus himself said to love our enemies and our persecutors. We don’t have to agree with what people are doing to pray for them. In fact, if we only show mercy and love to those we agree with, we are just like the rest of the world.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven... If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus is talking about love, not tolerance. In Christ, we are compelled to biblical, practical, transformative, all-in love toward everyone. This includes not only the Israeli and Palestinian victims but the persecutors as well. Jesus loves them, too – and no less than the completely innocent victims. His desire is that their hearts would also change and be surrendered to Him. Just as in the case of Saul and Paul, the Lord can change any heart in a single miraculous moment.
It is important to note that while more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel (most in the initial Hamas attack), the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 11,000 people. Consider the following notes from a Palestinian ministry leader in Gaza last month:
- 70% of Gaza residents are refugees; 30% are locals.
- There are 800-1000 remaining Christians in Gaza.
- Many people have lost their homes and are now hiding in churches and other locations.
- More than 500 were killed in the hit on the Gaza Baptist hospital.
- 6,500+ lives were lost in the Gaza Strip alone, with hundreds of children and women casualties, not inclusive of the 1k+ Israelis killed.
“Your kingdom come; Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As believers, we are called to pray in confidence, without fear, and in perfect love, knowing that God is on His throne, never caught by surprise; He is sovereign, loving, kind, and able to change any heart. In faith, we come to the feet of Jesus, expecting our prayers to be powerful and make a difference. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Through this bold faith, we can pray for salvation and repentance, as well as miraculous dreams, visions, and ‘Damascus Road’ encounters; in fact, God is actively doing this today in the Middle East, even among people in Hamas!
Certainly, we must also pray for the victims – for protection, faulty weaponry/missed targets, aid to those who need it, preservation of lives, mercy, and supernatural insight for active intelligence communities trying to dismantle evil regimes in order to free the hostages.
Finally, we can ask for wisdom and heavenly insight. May the Lord grant us discernment in our intake and output of information, revealing truths about the situation at hand. Let us also pray for the ministries in and supporting those in the Middle East so that we might have direction in our contributions to effective and righteous organizations.
We must, therefore, ask ourselves where God’s heart is in all of this. What really matters? How would Jesus respond to the situation? Would he sit from afar cheering on violence, hatred, and division? Of course, the Lord desires peace – peace for all nations. And more so, He wants the heart of each and every soul, fulfilling personal relationships of love, intimacy, and Truth. The best outcome is not peace by force but peace by repentance.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Lisa Maree Williams / Stringer
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Chrisitan Headlines.
Lana Silk serves as Chief Executive Officer (USA) of Transform Iran. In this role, Lana actively seeks to bring freedom to the people of Iran, transforming the nation into one which bears the image of Christ. Through ministry and humanitarian aid, Lana hopes that Transform Iran will create divine change in the lives of the Iranian people. She is tri-lingual and considers it her life calling to represent and advocate for the people of Iran in the West. Lana currently lives with her husband and three children in Ohio, actively operating Transform Iran’s mission.