New Years bring new things – good and bad. One of the not-so-good things so far in 2009 has been the escalating hostilities between Israel and Gaza; and not only has it divided the Middle East it has also divided the world. We’ve seen demonstrations in various nations – some opposing Israel with others showing their support. And there are good arguments both ways.
If we were having enemy rockets landing indiscriminately in Melbourne on a regular basis I can’t see our government standing by and not taking action. Southern Israel has been subjected to this for a long time and has demonstrated restraint and patience. On the other hand it was Israel that initially supported Hamas financially many years ago in an attempt to destabilize Yasser Arafat’s PLO. One could suggest that Israel is merely reaping what its sown.
But the real problem runs far deeper than politics. The real problem is that innocent people on both sides are suffering and the suffering is disproportionately falling on the residents of Gaza where hundreds of people have lost their lives.
Mission Network News reports that Christians are hurting with the rest of local residents. Windows in Gaza Baptist Church were blown out when a missile struck a police station across the street. About 40 deaths were reported in the attack. In the words of one local believer: “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, and our homes are here. We will not know anyone if we go somewhere else.” In addition, some Christian families from Gaza that visited Bethlehem over Christmas were reportedly separated from loved ones when Israel sealed the border. How would we feel if that was us?
Right now the best thing the church can do is pray for lasting peace – and not take sides! God loves everyone and is not willing that anyone should perish. That should be our desire too.