Lebanon shuts down to mourn the death of a leader; believers urge prayer.

By February 23, 2005

Lebanon (MNN)–Last week’s assassination of a key Lebanese leader sent shock waves throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Syria is denying accusations of its involvement in the plot, while supporters are rallying as Lebanon begins to mourn.

Opposition groups are stepping up their campaigns for an end to Syrian interference in the country’s politics and a withdrawal of its 14,000 troops.

The U-S, meanwhile, is urging an international probe into the murder. U-S President George W. Bush and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, issued a joint statement for the immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Baptist World Alliance’s Denton Lotz describes the tenuous situation developing. “The whole country is in uproar because of the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. Hariri is the one national leader that really had the respect of all the people, Christians and Muslims, even though he was a very convinced and strong Muslim. He was one of the men that really defended religious freedom.”

Lotz says that is why there is some apprehension about the future of evangelical work. He’s urging prayer for believers in Lebanon. “We hope it doesn’t return to civil war. Nobody knows, at this stage, who assassinated Hariri. But, there’s a great concern for peace in Lebanon, and Christians and Muslims are working to maintain the fragile peace that they have. They don’t want another civil war, since thousands were killed in that tragic civil war several years ago.”

Nabil Costa, Baptist leader of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, says, “Pray that God gives the Lebanese people wisdom that they do not react negatively to this huge loss that befell us.”

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