Hearing from the Church: A Middle East Voice on Israel and Gaza

A Note of Introduction (MENA PRN)

The Peace and Reconciliation Network (PRN)  believes that addressing the issues related to peacebuilding anywhere requires listening carefully to the variety of voices in each context, particularly our sisters and brothers in Christ. The escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza on October 7, 2023, has produced devastating suffering, shook a world already reeling by escalating conflicts, and is another call to Christians to pray, speak, and act for our Father’s Kingdom to come on earth, just as it is in heaven as peacemakers and ministers of reconciliation.

This reflection is sourced in the contextual experience of the Middle East North Africa Peace and Reconciliation Network (MENA PRN) team to further understanding and remove barriers to peace and reconciliation. The perspective here is not the official position of the World Evangelical Alliance but is a voice from part of the World Evangelical Alliance family that we need to hear in these very troubled times. The WEA’s official statement on the Holy Land conflict can be found here

The MENA PRN team, comprised of members from various countries and peoples in the region, joins with the voice of the Psalmist who cried out in Psalm 13:1-2, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

For too long, the people who call Palestine and Israel home have suffered under violence, occupation, and threat of war – whether Palestinian or Israeli. In recent days, the violent status quo has broken loose and moved from the simmering violence of occupation and uncertain futures to violence that sweeps up innocent children, women, and men with death and destruction.

We grieve the profound suffering and loss of life on all sides of this conflict. We condemn killing and violence in all its forms, including kidnapping, invasion of homes, and bombing of civilians. We condemn Hamas in perpetrating violence in the name of the Palestinian people. Their violence harms not only Israelis, but Palestinians as well. Likewise, we condemn the violence of the occupation and oppression over generations that harms not only Palestinians, but Israelis as well.

As Christians, we call on our brothers and sisters in Christ to hear and remember the decades-long cry of Palestinians for the end of the occupation and for peace and justice. We also call on our brothers and sisters to hear and remember the Israeli cry for safety. We plead with Christians to advocate with their governments to work for a lasting peace – a lasting Shalom– for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people that would call Israel-Palestine home. We remind our global Christian family that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9) even as he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

As citizens of the world, we lament the inaction of leaders who have disregarded the plea for a sustainable resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We lament the global community’s tendency to take sides based on ethnic and political affiliations, often overlooking the imperative issues of mercy, justice and reconciliation. We lament how the media focuses on one side of the story, while silencing and demonizing the other. We lament that we find ourselves entering yet another cycle of violence when our collective focus should be on pursuing a path for long lasting peace.

Therefore, we express utter and unequivocal condemnation against those who choose words and acts of violence, particularly against the vulnerable and innocent. We urge all with the power to do so, to choose peace. We plead with you to roll back vengeance, seek restoration and not retribution, and not rest until “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:4).

Jesus taught us to pray “O Lord, forgive us our sins, even as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and glory forever, Amen” (Matthew 6:12-13).

Our prayer is for all to have a future in the land that they call home.