What provides you with most security? After your faith and your family, what comes next? Probably your home.
It is probably your largest monthly financial expense or, if the mortgage is paid, your most valuable asset. You may have only just moved in yesterday. Your life, your memories, your hopes and dreams are still carefully packed away in those unopened boxes, but it is still your home. Or you may be living in your parents home. You may have been born there, grown up there, never spent a night anywhere else. What ever, your home is your security. The place where you can lock the door, feel secure, be yourself, protect your loved ones, raise your family.
Now imagine losing it. Not to a mortgage company through repossession, not because of a divorce settlement or an act of nature be it fire or flood, but lose it violently to a foreign government. Imagine being woken at 6:00am by riot police with dogs and bulldozers. They force you out at gun point.
They give you 15 minutes to remove your possessions.
They demolish your home in front of you. Then a week later, they send you the bill. It happens every day. Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh live in Anata, a village to the east of Jerusalem.
In June, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that their home could be demolished – for the fifth time. Four times it has been demolished and four times friends and international volunteers have rebuilt it.
Carl Moeller of Open Doors has just sent this news and prayer update on their plight.
“As an estimated 10,000 Israeli ground troops invaded Gaza today, the small community of Christians are drawing strength from their faith in God. Last week’s attacks left over 400 dead and 2,000 injured and the numbers are expected to dramatically increase.
According to reliable reports, the Gaza Baptist Church building was still standing this morning but has had some of its windows shattered by the bombings. Some Christian families left Gaza for Bethlehem over the holidays and are now separated from their loved ones with the border sealed. Many of the hospitals, already lacking basic medicines and medical equipment, are overwhelmed with the casualties and often are without power.
This is serious trouble for Christians in Gaza. Even before the recent end to the ceasefire (December 19) and the bombings, the estimated 3,000 Christians in Gaza have been living in fear from threats from Islamic militants.
Please join me in prayer for these brave Christians in Gaza in the wake of this new outbreak of violence. Pray that the war between Israel and Palestine is shorter and less devastating than what military and political speculators around the world are predicting. Pray that Christian families will be reunited. Pray that the Gaza Baptist Church building will be spared from the bombs.
Earlier this year one believer in Gaza stated: “Seventy percent of the Christians want to leave Gaza because they are very afraid. But we love Gaza. It’s our country, we have roots here, our homes are here. We will not know anyone if we go somewhere else.”
Pray that the seeds Brother Andrew sowed with Hamas and other prominent militant groups and the Gazan Christians sowed throughout the years when the Palestinian Bible Society actively shared God’s love with Muslim friends and neighbors will bear fruit. May their offerings of Christ’s love result in peace and God’s glory. Please check our website at http://www.opendoorsusa.org/ for updates.
In Christ our hope,
Dr. Carl A. Moeller
Open Doors USA President/CEO
Read John McArthy’s excellent piece in the Independent If it were your home, what hope restraint?
More photos of Gaza
If you were the real Father Christmas and you happened to visit a few hundred thousand churches today on a pre-Christmas dry run, I suspect you would find a common theme running through many sermons preached this morning.
Marc Lawrence and Katie Ford wrote one of my all time favourite films Miss Congeniality. It’s about an FBI agent, played by Sandra Bullock, who must go undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a group of terrorists from bombing the event. It has some classic lines – like when Stan Fields asks Miss Rhode Island, “please describe your idea of a perfect date”. She replies, “That’s a tough one. I would have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket”. Or when Miss New Jersey is asked why it is called “The Garden State”? Gracie Hart replies, “Because “Oil and Petrochemical Refinery State” wouldn’t fit on a license plate?” Each of the contestants is asked the same final question “what is the one most important thing our society needs?” They all reply “world peace” and the crowd cheers ecstatically. But when Sandra Bullock the undercover FBI agent is asked she replies, “That would be… harsher punishment for parole violators.” And then after a long pause, she adds, “And world peace!” and the crowd cheers ecstatically. What does this world need most?
“World Peace” will be a common, predictable message we will hear on the TV and radio, in charity adverts and from pulpits over the next couple of weeks. The question is – how to achieve it? I believe the UN Declaration of Human Rights to be the finest and most important document devised by mankind. But human words will not bring about peace on earth. I support the humanitarian work of the United Nations wholeheartedly, but the UN will never achieve world peace through passing resolutions and by intervening with peace keeping forces.
This week the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Church leaders in the UK called for military intervention to stop the killing in the Congo. I support that call, and similar initiatives in Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Palestine, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Columbia, and a hundred other places in our world where people are hurting one another, but the UN cannot resolve the underlining causes. That is because hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease are the symptoms not the causes.
Only one person can bring world peace and one day he will. Jesus Christ. Among his people, among those who recognise him, who own him, who submit to him, he serve him, we can experience a foretaste of that peace he will most surely bring one day soon. Please turn with me to Isaiah 9:1-7 and let us meet him, let us learn from his names and learn of his purposes for us, for our families, for our world and for the future.
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