A newspaper headline from 1938 shrieked, “German Jews Pouring Into This Country!” The wartime journalist complained: “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage”.[1] When thinking of Middle Eastern refugees pouring into the West, it’s important to pay attention to the problems that are causing people to flee in the first place.

But even if we have a good grasp of the situation, is there anything we can really do about the troubles in Syria? By God’s amazing grace, yes there certainly is!

Power to influence world events

During the Second World War, Rees Howells and his school of intercessors in Wales, UK, vowed to give their lives over “to fight the battles of the Kingdom, as really as if called to fight on the Western Front.” They prayed and fasted throughout the whole war, taking a stand of faith in order that the Gospel might not be hindered. For several years Mr. Howells insisted that God must destroy Hitler, if the Great Commission to take the Gospel to every creature was to be fulfilled. Howells declared,

“The Lord has made known to us that He is going to destroy Hitler and the Nazi regime, that the world may know that it was God and God alone who has scattered the dictators. Three and a half years ago, the College prayed this prayer for weeks and months, and we firmly believe He will now answer it… He will deal with the Nazis as He dealt with the Egyptian army in the time of Moses.”[2]

Rees Howells was a man who knew the power of prayer, and knew that they could affect what went on in the battlefield in Germany from his own “War Room” in the United Kingdom.
In one incident, the Germans were advancing rapidly and the intercessors prayed that they would be stopped in their tracks and not be able to proceed any further. That night a lot of rain fell, producing mud, which rendered the German tanks literally stuck in the mud, and stopped right in their tracks. The stories of how their prayers really influenced battle situations over those terrible years are breathtaking.

Joining God’s purposes in prayer

How seriously do we take the power of prayer? Notice that the main motivation of Howells and his fellow intercessors was that the Gospel should be free to spread unhindered. This is the bottom line.

We may not have all the intelligence or information to truly know what to do in this awful situation, but God does. And he bends down to hear our prayers. Are we willing to step up to pray more earnestly for God’s purposes in the Middle East?
What are God’s purposes? The spread of the Gospel to every creature has to be a top priority – he wants none to perish.
We can certainly be praying for all of those in Syria to come face to face with the living God of Israel, and Yeshua his Messiah. It is often reported that some 60% of Muslims who come to faith do so because of a dream or vision of Yeshua. We can certainly ask that God in his mercy would reveal himself not only to those in desperate need, fleeing an evil regime, but also to members of ISIS themselves. No one is out of the reach of God.

Radical, Yeshua-style love

We need to be people of radical love, as Yeshua showed us. This involves fearlessly loving, giving, and praying for others caught up in this conflict – even to those we might think of as enemies.
One man who is a great inspiration to me was a Messianic Jew from Romania – Richard Wurmbrand. Although he and his wife lost many friends and family members in the Holocaust, they still protected a Nazi soldier who was fleeing the incoming Communist regime. Wurmbrand would also dress up in the Russian army uniform so that he could sneak into the enemy camp in order to share the Gospel with them. What kind of love is this?! After being imprisoned for his faith for 15 years, Wurmbrand eventually set up an organisation called “Voice of the Martyrs” dedicated not only to help believers in countries where they are persecuted – but also to share the Gospel with their persecutors.
Similarly, Brother Andrew, now an old man, has never tired of going to share the Gospel of peace with all kinds of people – in the last few years he has met with known terrorists in the Middle East, in order to tell them about the new life they could have in Yeshua.

Don’t talk to others negatively ABOUT the refugees – talk directly TO them about God! And even more importantly, talk to God about them.

My pastor here in Israel wisely said that it is important not to talk negatively about others, but to talk TO them about the Gospel. How much time do we spend saying negative things about ISIS and others, compared to the time that we spend praying for them? We might not be able to meet them face to face, as Brother Andrew so bravely does, but we can certainly talk to their creator – our Father in heaven.

There are many great reports from Syria about large numbers coming to faith. A few years ago when the civil war was gaining momentum, I read a report by the Bible Society that they simply could not meet the great demand for Scriptures! People were desperate even for calendars with Bible verses on. And only a few months ago I heard a pastor from Syria reporting in an Arab congregation here in Israel that whilst they never saw the troubles coming in Syria, they also did not expect the great revival they have seen, as many have come to faith in the midst of crisis.

There are many avenues through which we can give and help the Syrian people – and all those affected by the troubles in the Middle East in very practical ways, but let us never underestimate the power of prayer in war-torn situations.
May the Gospel spread unhindered throughout Syria and the whole Middle East. May there be a great harvest as Muslims far and wide wake up to the deception of Islam and the kindness of Yeshua and his followers, before they have to meet him on the last day. May God’s children come to understand more about the great and powerful weapon that we have in our hands to make a difference – the power of faith-filled and God-inspired prayer.
[1] Daily Mail, 1938
[2] Rees Howells: Intercessor | Chapter 34 – Intercession for Dunkirk

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