As we continue to pray for all those caught up in the violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, Embrace the Middle East, one of the missions which we support here at St John’s, is continuing to support its Christian partners working in the Holy Land.
The following is taken from an article on the Embrace website.
“The Christian faith has a long history in Gaza, going back over 1,600 years. Although there are now only around 1,000 Christians left in the Gaza Strip, the Christian community continues to make a deep impact by serving those in need.
During the current Israel/Hamas war, the Orthodox and Latin churches in Gaza City have become places of refuge for those who need it, including for around 800 Christians, approximately 80% of the Christian population in Gaza.
Although there are now only two functioning churches, they are part of the small but strong Christian community in Gaza. The Orthodox Church shares a boundary with the local mosque, and they are immensely proud that there is no wall to separate the two buildings. Christians and Muslims are neighbours; they are one community; they wish to get on with their lives, provide for their families and practise their faith.
On 19 October, those sheltering in the Orthodox church were packing up and distributing food parcels to their neighbours and other families who cannot flee the city. Later that evening, a missile landed close by, causing the hall where many were sleeping to collapse. Whole families died, and many were injured. Even churches like this one are no longer a safe place for people to shelter.
As they seek to remain and continue to serve their community, we can carry them in our prayers, we can share messages of solidarity and assure them that they are not forgotten. We can push back against polarising language and we can call for justice and accountability for all those who have been lost or who are suffering amidst this conflict.
In this time of challenge in Gaza, we too have a responsibility, as part of the one household of God, to help support our Christian sisters and brothers as they carry the heavy weight of the cross that they bear.“
News, updates, prayers and resources can all be accessed on the Embrace website at https://embraceme.org/israel-palestine-news
At this time of remembrance, we think of all those who have lost and are losing loved ones through war and conflict. We pray for peace wherever there is suffering and especially for Israel, for Gaza and for Ukraine as we see the terrible distress conflict brings. We pray this in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.