Gaza: Love and the Enemy

From the archive.
A Palestinian woman receives food aid from the World Food Programme in Gaza City (file photo) (Photo: © WFP)

As Gaza crumbles, Tanas Alqassis, a Palestinian Christian, makes a heartfelt call for prayer in the spirit of the Prince of Peace

This morning as I sat down to have my breakfast, I switched on the television to watch the news of the Gaza crisis.

As I watched what is happening, with many women and children being killed, schools destroyed and houses turned to rubble, my heart broke and tears filled my eyes.

Violence is increasing on both sides, more Israeli soldiers are getting killed, many of the Israelis who live close to the Gaza border are in fear and it seems like more people are getting angrier, losing hope and wanting revenge.

Related stories
CMS statement on Gaza crisis
Anglican hospital at full stretch in Gaza
Middle East needs prayers and prophets

Gaza PowerPoint
Download Tanas's PowerPoint with facts, statistics and prayers

Tour of Reconciliation
Listen to Tanas and Jewish colleague Joseph Steinberg talking about why the only hope for the Middle East is the Prince of Peace

Useful websites
B'Tselem – Israeli Human Rights Information Centre
Palestine News Network
Al Jazeera – only major news organisation with reporters inside
Israel National News
UNRWA – UN Relief & Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
I am really astonished at world leaders – Israeli and Palestinian included. How come after all these years of violence they cannot realise that violence will only bring violence, that hatred will only bring revenge and that people without hope are willing to die without fear?

So what will happen now? International diplomats will interfere and maybe a ceasefire will be agreed. But all of that is temporary, because the main problems – occupation, lack of trust and fear – are not dealt with. So after a while the whole cycle will start again and more people will be killed. I have seen it before again and again.

What happened to the world? Where is our humanitarian conscience, our compassion? I look around the world and I see many people are getting killed, many suffer, many have no homes and still we are not moved or touched by it.

What are the Children of God doing? Are we just taking sides? Are we trying to justify our own political or religious beliefs? Are we keeping quiet so that we do not offend each other? What are we doing to make a difference?

How about this option: preach the gospel, give people hope, and best of all give them the prince of peace, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

I do not want to take sides, I want to be on Jesus' side and have others join me At first glance, this may seem hopelessly idealistic and some will say even Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians do not get on.

Yet in my former job with Musalaha, a reconciliation organisation sponsored by CMS, I worked side by side with fellow believers from both Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds and saw how loving Jesus above all makes reconciliation possible.

You can never leave your national identity and cultural background behind. Hurts and passions are easily stirred on both sides – it's understandable.

But if you see yourself first as a follower of Christ, you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, find the courage to reach out in love to your enemy.

That's why in my role with CMS I am trying to respond in a creative way and find ways to help Christians in the region work together in mission.

I have Palestinian friends losing loved ones. I have Jewish friends being called up into the army. I do not want to take sides, I want to be on Jesus' side and have others join me.

Yes, there are injustices that we need to address. But we need to learn how to address them with love.

Only Jesus can help us act out his toughest commandment: 'Love your enemy.'

Please join me to pray:

  • for the people of Gaza, suffering unimaginably; for the violence to stop and aid to reach where it's needed
  • for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of Palestinian and Israeli leaders and move them to look beyond political interests to real peace
  • for the international community to take a strong stand and make all parties involved sit down and come up with a real and just solution
  • for Christians everywhere to recognise that their own political or theological beliefs must come second to serving the Prince of Peace and to seek God's leading on how they can make a positive contribution to peace through prayer, advocacy and speaking about both sides with love instead of hate

Prayer for Gaza from the Amos Trust

CMS is able to accept donations to pass on to partners bringing relief to families in need in Gaza, including Al Ahli hospital. You can give by credit or debit card by using the link below, or send a cheque, payable to Church Mission Society, to CMS, Income Team, Watlington Road, Oxford OX4 6BZ, clearly stating that your donation is for Gaza.

Donate online by credit or debit card to support the church's work in Gaza >
Published 7 January 2009

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