Christians in the crossfire in Middle East.

By August 2, 2006

Middle East (MNN) — While the battle continues to rage between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Open Doors’ Paul Estabrooks calls Christians to remember believers caught in the crossfire.

“Open doors has always been concerned for the persecuted church or those who are under persecution and suffering,” says Estabrooks, “and our request for that area is that we’d pray for our brothers and sisters there. Among those who are fleeing the country, those who’ve lost family members, those who are caught in the crossfire of that land are many of our family. And though we don’t know them by name always, they are still our family.”

There are tremendous challenges and much is in disarray, and Estabrooks says it’s a difficult situation to be watching, and they feel helpless to do anything to help, “We try not to be political in our evaluations of what’s happening, but we’re just astounded at the devastation of human life that’s going on in Lebanon and ask people to pray for our friends, especially the family of God there.”

And yet, there are some Christians who have decided to stay in Lebanon even in the midst of the crisis, because they know there are tremendous opportunities for ministry during crisis times. “When you’ve become emotionally involved with friends like this, it’s very hard not to be emotionally involved in the political side of what’s happening when you see your friends being harmed. Especially Christian friends, but you know, they’re there to serve the Lord in that situation, and Scripture does tell us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and this is probably no better time than ever to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Estabrooks says we need to stand with our brothers and sisters, and pray that God will bring good out of the terrible war situations going on. “It’s interesting that sharing the Gospel is often easier in a time of crises than in a time of peace. And so we would ask people to pray that during these crises that are going on minute by minute in that country, that our brothers and sisters there would have an opportunity to be able to share their faith in very practical and real ways that will impact those who need to know the Lord and who are searching for the Lord in that land.”

While the crisis in Lebanon takes the spotlight, overshadowing other issues in that region, the situation in Gaza is still very difficult and believers there need much prayer as well.

There are ways to be practically involved, says Estabrooks, including being part of the letter writing campaign to encourage Christians in the midst of the conflict and stressful situations. Go to Open Doors’ website for more information on how you can write encouraging letters to believers caught in the crossfire of the Middle East.

And really, “the least you can do is really the most you can do, and that is to pray,” says Estabrooks, and so pray that the peace of Christ will flood the Middle East, on all sides of the conflict.

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