(Photo: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)
Despite word earlier this week that Hamas and Palestinian leaders were negotiating with Israel to put an end to the latest deadly conflict, both sides have continued trading fire. Meanwhile, Christian organizations and concerned individuals have been calling for prayer in hopes of seeing peace restored to the Middle East region.
The Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, shared in an opinion piece that one of the primary actions concerned believers can take is to pray for Christians caught in the conflict – whom the organization calls "the descendants of the first followers of Jesus."
"Pray! Pray for the Mother Church of the Holy Land. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are united with us in the Christian solidarity of the mystical Body of Christ – the Church: 'If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy' (1 Corinthians 12:26)."
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) also made an appeal to followers Tuesday to remember, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday, those who "know no peace."
"As the situation in Gaza and Israel continues to intensify – even as Americans head into a season of Thanksgiving and preparation for the gift of Christ's peace – let us pause to remember those in Israel and Gaza who know no peace but instead face only violence and the threat of violence. We pray and act for the day when violence will end and a just peace will dawn in the Middle East and in our world."
Christian author and missionary John Huckins lamented this week over the "stereotyping, racism and violent response being disseminated by Christians as they watch the news unfold and enter the discussion."
Having worked through The Global Immersion Project to bring reconciliation to Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle East, Huckins writes for Relevant magazine that Christians should grieve the lives lost amid the conflict and take the time to become informed before "jumping to words or actions that may do more harm than good."
Among his many suggestions for how Christians should respond to the Middle East crisis, Huckins reminds believers to pray.
"Pray for the healing of others, from all nations and religions. Pray for peace in places of conflict. Seek forgiveness for our blind prejudice. Ask for courage for those who promote Kingdom values. Pray for new friendships to be cultivated among former enemies. Pray for your enemies," he writes.
The United States, meanwhile, has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has put on hold a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip as a concession to negotiation efforts. Other leaders, including representatives of the Palestinian government, Hamas, and Egypt, are currently involved in those efforts, with the immediate goal being a cease-fire agreement.