pray….and pray some more for the middle east

my heart breaks for the lost…..not just the spiritually lost….but the literal lost…the ones traveling through the Iraqi desert with no where to go.

my heart mourns those that do not know Jesus…not just the ones living on my street or in my city…but also the ones that kill other people for religious purposes or out of a conviction that some god somewhere will be pleased somehow

my heart hurts for people that have never heard the gospel….the true gospel…the gospel that turns lives upside down and changes everything in someone’s life…..forever…..THAT gospel.

What is missing in Iraq….in Syria….in Gaza…..in Israel….is Jesus.

For those that don’t know Jesus…this might sound like an oversimplified solution to a very complicated problem. 

Fortunately….for those that DO know Jesus….know that Jesus is enough for any problem….regardless of size or complication. 

I think about the displaced people in the middle east…the ones that have never heard that the God of the universe and of all creation has had (past, present and future) a perfect plan of redemption for a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages and one day they will ALL be standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

I see pictures splattered all over the web and on various blogs from those that have something to say about the chaos that is now our world. Pictures of hurting people. Of evil people. Of scared people. Of people in mourning. Of vengeful people. Of thirsty people. Of hungry people. Of hopeless people….and wonder if they have ever heard these words from Jesus

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for    theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As a Christ following woman living in the U.S., I tend to feel a sense of helplessness to everything that is chaotic that happens outside of my country and my immediate world. I get overwhelmed with possibilities that run through my mind with small, yet probably insignificant ways to help people on the other side of the world. I succumb to the impossibilities of my plans and realize that the only way I can help right now is to pray. My American sensibilities tend to think of prayer as a last resort….but in reality…I know it’s not.

I don’t know all the facts when it comes to who is who in the world’s chaos….however….

I know enough about Israel as a collective whole that keeps me from blindly following and supporting a nation simply because God used these people and this specific geographical area throughout Bible history.

I know enough about the situation in Gaza/Palestine to know they are also not innocent victims. 

I know enough about the situation in Syria and Iraq to know that many of the people now being displaced reject the God of the Bible and worship various gods and belief systems.

I know enough about the psychological make up that creates Islamic terrorist’s like the men that created ISIS to not see them as just plain evil men…even though they are. Remember Saul persecuted Christ followers with the same anger and vengeance and was on his way to kill more Christ followers when Jesus literally knocked him off his feet, blinded him, changed his entire world view, gave him a new name, Paul, and had him change the entire footprint of Jesus’s church forever. (Acts 9)

Point being, as Christ followers, are we called to pick sides? Are we called to side with one group of people over another? I honestly don’t think so. 

The true gospel of Jesus changes lives radically.

My heart hurts for those that don’t know this gospel…this same  gospel that tells people that Jesus is enough for even the most complicated issue. The gospel that tells people that they don’t have to DO anything to please God…because God saves who He wants, when He wants, however He wants. He is the God of the universe for heavens sake.

And ohhhhh…how sweet it is to be saved by Jesus.
How beautiful it is to changed by Jesus. 
and also….how heavy hearted it is to be saved by Jesus….only because we want others to know the beauty and the freedom that we have in the core of our being when we know Christ…our King!!!

When I become aware of crisis after crisis and see pictures of people behaving in ways that reflect not knowing Jesus, I am typically moved to want to do something….yet when I don’t know what that is exactly…..I pray. 

I pray the minute my eyes open in the morning. I thank God for allowing me to know Jesus, to have a bed to sleep on, to have a house to live in. I pray that God reveals himself to the people in Israel. I pray that God takes off the scales from their eyes so that they come to the full realization that Jesus has already come and He will come again. I pray that the Jewish people realize that Israel is not their home without Christ. 

When I walk past my children’s bedrooms, I pray and thank God that my children HAVE bedrooms…with walls that divide their space. I thank God that my children can walk out of their respective divided spaces yet realize that this house is a gift from God and we are merely occupants to care for this house. I pray for the people of Gaza. I pray that they are allowed to build homes, raise their families, teach their children…things we take for granted often. I pray that in their ability to settle where they want, God shows them that there is a greater settlement for those that know Jesus. I pray that in their ability to have settled lives, the person of Jesus becomes their Savior, their Redeemer, their King. 

When I take my morning walk, through trees and shade, I pray to God to thank Him for trees and shade. I pray and beg Him for shade for the displaced people fleeing persecution in the hot summer Iraqi desert. I also pray that Jesus becomes their shade. I thank God that Jesus is revealing Himself to the people of Iraq and throughout the Middle East in ways that American Christians cannot fathom- through visions and dreams. Oh, how I love to read stories about Muslim’s, who do not have access to the Bible or our plethora of Christian literature yet come to a saving knowledge of Jesus due to a re-occurring dream or vision. This flies in the face of our American Christian pragmatism but I love it. 

Whenever I get on the internet and see pictures of ISIS, which is daily now, I pray for the evil men of ISIS. I pray that Jesus knocks them off their feet and radically changes their lives in ways they cannot even understand. I pray that their world and their entire belief system gets turned upside down. I pray that when this happens, Jesus brings other courageous believers to cross paths with them to encourage them, forgive them, and be reconciled as brothers in Christ. Just as Ananias was skeptical when Paul was converted (Acts 9:13) others will be skeptical when ISIS men are converted. I pray this happens so that many will praise the name of Jesus. 

I pray to keep away feelings of helplessness that arise in the midst of world chaos. Staying tethered to the Father through prayer keeps me from feeling helpless and helps me to feel connected to not only the ones being persecuted for being Christian, but also to the lost who do not know Jesus. 

I pray that God will continue to strengthen persecuted Christians for resolve, for perseverance, and to not lose hope when things seem hopeless in their immediate world. 

I also pray for myself because through prayer I can see things clearly, Biblically and discerningly. I am also given emotional and spiritual strength through Jesus, who is my ultimate strength so that I can continue to pray for the persecuted with wisdom that only comes from God.

I pray against empathy and a desire to not pick obvious sides on any given world crisis situation but to trust God and the discerning power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit that in all things I point people to Jesus…not a worldly solution.  

For those that feel convicted to give, here are also some good reputable organizations to give financially –

Christian Aid
Voice of the Martyrs
Open Doors

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