We ask all persons to be in prayer for people in the Middle East following a weekend of senseless violence and deplorable acts of terrorism. We pray for the families of all victims who have died. We pray for the short- and long-term safety of the people who are now hostages. We pray for all people threatened by war. It has always seemed inhumane to me to consider human lives “collateral damage.”
While immensely complicated, I also pray for short- and long-term peace in the Middle East. One of our seven Mission Table priorities, adopted earlier this year is, “Peacemaking in a culture of violence.” Perhaps nowhere else in the world is peace more complicated than in the territory of the Middle East. Yet, as Christians, we are called to be peacemakers in all circumstances. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
A resolution passed by our American Baptist General Board in 1980 states:
“A Christian approach to the complex situation in the Middle East should be one of moral realism. It should acknowledge that all concrete initiatives and human solutions are imperfect and inevitably partial, and cannot eliminate all the human suffering and injustice experienced in the area. Nonetheless, efforts can and should continue toward a total peace settlement for all the peoples involved in or affected by the conflict.”(ABC Resolution 12-80)
On Saturday, “Churches for Middle East Peace released a statement condemning all acts of violence committed against civilians over the past twenty-four hours and calling upon the U.S. to support the safety and dignity of all people impacted– Israeli and Palestinian. Their full statement is available here.
In difficult times, we find shelter in God and shelter in the Psalms. “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burn the shields with fire. Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46:9-11
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
American Baptist Churches USA