By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor
Reports from the Middle East fill websites, newspapers and television news stations with bad news about terrorist groups and uprisings. Our own government rightly strategizes and builds coalitions to bring peace to the region and protect national interests. But true peace is not established through military dominance or economic sanctions. True peace is found in a person and His name is Jesus. Forgiveness and Reconciliation are only possible through a relationship with Him. This is the message of the Christian church today in places like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. These Christians trace their ancestry back to the first church born at Pentecost. Sadly, many are forced to flee their homes, neighborhoods and work places in order to find refuge in safer places. But some Christians are staying. They refuse to be enemies with those who persecute them. They choose to love rather than hate. They have faith that their Christian witness will point to the only one who can bring true peace. As hard as it is for us to imagine here, they believe that staying rather than leaving, enduring persecution and suffering, is what Jesus is asking them to do. It is the cross they are being called to carry.
On June 18, Muslims around the world will begin 30 days of fasting during a season called Ramadan. 23% of the World’s population is Muslim with 20% of those living in North Africa and the Middle East. This season creates a great opportunity for Christians in the West to join with Christians in the Middle East in solidarity and mission. Through prayer, we engage in an act of love for Muslim people, understanding their concerns, learning about their customs and praying they will discover Jesus as the true object of their devotion.
I invite you to pick up a copy of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World in the lobby or at the Welcome desk. This guide will help you learn about Islam, what God is doing in the Muslim world and how you can pray for them. You can also find the guide and more information at www.30daysprayer.com. Our hope and our peace are in a person. Prayer is our most effective way of bringing change to the Middle East and supporting our Christian brothers and Sisters who are still living there.