Yesterday, Israeli children and teenagers all went, whether excited, kicking and screaming, or nonchalantly, for their first day back at school. For some, it was their very first time, and teachers had made banners greeting them: “Welcome kita aleph (class 1)!” These children are very blessed when we look around the Middle East today.
Here in Israel many are tentatively preparing for war; making sure they know where their gas masks are and stocking up on essentials… but in contrast with those dear ones in Syria and Egypt, Israeli children are very blessed on many accounts. The contrast with their peergroup just over the border is stark.
We have all been horrified at the sights of Syrian’s population suffering at cruel hands, regardless of age. Even the Arab League of 22 Arab nations has now joined in the condemnation of Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own civilians. As the politicians consider their moves, we can pray for God’s great wisdom to guide their decisions and actions.
Israeli hospitals have now treated well over 3000 Syrians, many of whom are children in need of life-saving medical treatment, even though the two countries are still technically enemies. Many thousands of dollars have been spent on the medical aid, with the Israeli government footing the bill.
One of the doctors explained what they were trying to do for Syria: “A large part of our treatment was to try to embrace her in a virtual hug”.
Also, it’s time to love and lift up in prayer all the young people who love Yeshua in the region, who are enduring devastating violence at the hands of their own countrymen. Jamil, who represents the student ministry IFES in the Middle East gives this report about Syria:
“Many people have lost hope in a peaceful resolution to the conflict. But under these dark shadows, we see the hope that God lights within people who have the desire to spread the word of God and train students to continue his mission.”
They have not stopped meeting together, and plan to encourage and equip new young leaders, but finding a safe place to meet is not easy. Shaher, who serves alongside students in Egypt, writes:
‘We need your prayers more than any time before, and we as Christians need wisdom. The Muslim Brotherhood consider the current conflict to be a religious war, and think that their defeat would be a defeat for Islam. So they have started to attack churches and Christians… We need grace to show the love of our God; churches need to challenge their people to practice what they believe. Students need to share the gospel love-story freely, and have the courage to stay in the country when they graduate, and share in building Egypt. We want to encourage students to not focus on disappointment with the political situation, but to take part in the political life of this country, to share in activities without fear.’
Please pray that the Middle Eastern students can make solid plans to gather in Lebanon at the beginning of September – they have been forced to change locations several times already. The IFES student movement asks for prayer that Lebanon will remain a place where young believers from across the Middle East can gather safely. Their desire is to encourage students live lives that are counter-cultural, and saturated with kingdom values.
Thank you for joining us in your prayers for the children, students and young people all across the Middle East today.
website of IFES – the student ministry mentioned above: http://ifesworld.org/