December 18, 2023

The situation continues to be very difficult for everyone in the region. Today’s call included a pastor in Israel, a pastor in the West Bank with connections to the Baptist church in Gaza, and an update from Lucas (MERATH) on the situation in Lebanon.

The Baptist church building in Gaza has been abandoned and nobody has been able to visit it for about 2 months due to the conflict. There are rumors that the building has been destroyed or badly damaged, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Christians in Gaza (including Baptists) are sheltering in Catholic and Orthodox church buildings. However, these have also not been entirely safe and some Christians have been hit by snipers when the leave the building to go to the washroom which is in a nearby building. Opportunities for aid and relief in the area are limited, but some small shipments of food and hygiene supplies were delivered recently. Christians are mainly looking to leave the area, either to temporarily relocate to the West Bank or to leave the region entirely and emigrate overseas.

In Israel the situation is a bit different. This is in part because the government is better able to offer support to those impacted by the war including internally displaced people. The Baptist churches are mainly located in northern Israel where there is less active conflict. However, the war has still impacted their economy and caused many people to feel unsafe and question the future. In particular, young adults are feeling hopeless and looking to leave the region which will have long term implications for the health of the country and the local churches.

In Lebanon the conflict is mainly contained to the southern border region. While it is not anticipated that the conflict will escalate into war in Lebanon, the situation is also somewhat uncertain. Approximately 64, 000 people in Lebanon have been displaced by this conflict and MERATH is responding by providing food, hygiene supplies and other basic needs (CBM has financially supported this project). This conflict comes on top of the many other economic and political challenges facing Lebanon recently.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for peace in the Middle East. Pray that the conflict would end and people would be able to start the long process of rebuilding their homes and lives
  • Pray for those displaced by violence. Pray that their basic needs would be met and they would find spaces of safety and rest.
  • Pray that Christians in Gaza would be able to find safe routes to the West Bank and other more stable areas
  • Pray for those experiencing grief, trauma, heartbreak and other psychological impacts of war. Pray that God would provide them with comfort and peace.
  • Pray for the churches in Israel and Palestine. Pray for their short-term survival  and their long-term health in the midst of so much uncertainty, loss and displacement.

October 18, 2023

The hospital in Gaza that was hit yesterday has been informally known as the “Baptist hospital” because it was established by the Southern Baptist Convention. There is a Baptist church in Gaza very close to that hospital.
In the West Bank, there are no major issues except lots of demonstrations. In Gaza, things are getting unbearable; people only have one meal per day. There is hope that the humanitarian corridor will open today to allow some food trucks through.
In Israel, there is a lot of grief and loss. It’s difficult to cope with the loss of life and continue living in fear and not knowing what might happen next.
Churches in Israel have been having daily meetings on Zoom to pray together. Baptist churches are mainly located in Northern Israel, which is quite far from the conflict. Baptist churches and members are opening their homes to people evacuating. There is tension in the north as well, and some small towns on the border are being evacuated, but no missiles or major armed conflict. The churches are trying to be places of refuge in the midst of this, offering shelter and counselling support. They are praying that the conflict will end quickly.
Prayer requests:
  • Pray for peace. Pray that the war would end.
  • Pray for the government of Israel and pray for the leaders of Hamas, that God would intervene in their lives and they would want to work for peace.
  • Pray for long-term solutions so that conflict doesn’t keep happening year after year.
  • Pray for those who have been injured.
  • Pray for those who have lost loved ones.
  • Pray for the children who have been impacted by the war, especially for the psychological impact.
  • Pray that food, water and electricity will be able to be provided in Gaza soon.
  • Pray for protection for Christians in Gaza and Israel. Pray that they would be safe and their minds would not be polluted by hatred, but would learn to speak the language of peace.
  • Pray that God would raise up peacemakers and that through this situation, people would come to know Jesus more as the Prince of Peace.