Do we have a strange dilemma this Christmas? On the one hand we’re celebrating the coming of the Saviour – the Prince of Peace. Isaiah said, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” On the other hand, it doesn’t look as though his peace is increasing. Currently the very place he was born is near the centre of the violent conflict hitting our news every day.
Not all crises make news headlines in the west. As you read this, dozens of crises are pounding the places where our 270 Frontiers field teams live. A recent article in Forbes cites a United Nations statistic that five times as many natural disasters are occurring now compared to 50 years ago, and civil unrest interventions by the UN have increased 10-fold in the last 50 years.
However there is good news! What often doesn’t get reported is that many of these places are also seeing significant numbers of people turning to faith in Jesus and house churches rapidly multiplying. Jesus talked about the kingdom of God being like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough. We’re regularly hearing how the yeast of the kingdom is powerfully working in the hearts and homes of people living in the places we see on the news.
From Genesis to Revelation we see that God frequently uses man-made and natural disasters to advance his kingdom, move people around the globe and cause them to seek him and find him. These movements towards Christ often happen when victims of crises experience Christ’s love through the believers who have gone to live among them, or through local church (where it exists). For example, Turkish and Syrian disciples, assisted by foreign gospel workers are caring in practical ways for their Muslim neighbours who are still suffering the aftereffects of the February 2023 earthquake. Sudanese refugees flooding into neighbouring countries are being cared for physically, emotionally and spiritually by followers of Jesus. Ukrainian and Russian disciples are caring for wounded on both sides of the border.
How about us? How can we help in the midst of these crises?
1. STRATEGIC PRAYER
The word of God tells us the prayers of people like us are powerful and effective. How can we pray Biblical prayers, especially for the situation in Israel/Gaza?
Pray that Jewish background believers, Muslim background believers, and the Arab Christians in the Holy Land would find a way to come together in the unity of the Messiah (Ephesians 3:6).
Pray that their love for one another and a miraculous ability to forgive and reconcile will be an example of reconciliation and peace (John 13:35).
Pray that Jesus’ command to go beyond “eye for an eye” would take root and begin to transform society (Matthew 5:38-39).
Pray for hope. Pray that Jewish and Palestinian families will cry out to the God and father of our Lord Jesus for help and salvation (Psalm 121).
Pray for the political leaders to look to the Lord for heavenly wisdom (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Pray for those who have committed atrocities to see the blood on their hands, to encounter Jesus, repent, and enter his peace (Acts 9:1-6).
Pray for the Lord to raise up many more workers to go to the harvest field where these crises are occurring. Pray that they will demonstrate the love of God, the power of the Spirit, and bring good news to the poor (Luke 10:1-11).
2. BE AN ANSWER TO YOUR PRAYERS
Maybe God is stirring in your heart a desire to go and live among some of the people who are suffering these natural disasters and conflicts. If so, we’d love to talk with you about how the Lord might use you and what some practical next steps might be.
If God is moving you, get in touch with us and we’ll arrange a chat: email@example.com