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Christian Ministry’s Plea For War Zone

by | Wed, Nov 1 2023

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The head of humanitarian agency Baptist World Aid (BWA) has called on Christians everywhere to pray for miracles in Gaza because that’s what’s needed to save thousands of lives on both sides of the war which is intensifying as the Israeli ground offensive gains momentum and the relentless airstrikes continue.

On Tuesday (October 31) Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets around the Jabalia refugee camp near Gaza City demolished apartment buildings as ground troops battled Hamas militants across northern Gaza. Israel claims the airstrikes killed a senior Hamas commander and “multiple dozens” of other Hamas fighters who were directing operations from a “vast underground tunnel complex” which collapsed, bringing down surrounding buildings. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that “couldn’t be avoided.”

Initial estimates of the number of civilians killed varied from 25 to 120 to hundreds. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza puts the Palestinian death toll since Hamas attacked Israel at more than 8,500 which is effectively impossible to verify. More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes although several hundred thousand remain in the north, ignoring Israeli warnings to leave as IDF troops and tanks advance on multiple sides of Gaza City. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire and reiterated his vow to crush Hamas’s ability to govern Gaza or threaten Israel.

Against this background, BWA CEO Melissa Lipsett told Vision Radio: “Christians understand disarming love better than most. We’re the product of it. So our only responses should be to pray, to be bearers and bringers of that disarming love, to be peacemakers in our own spheres of influence and to give generously to those in need. You know, we are called to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves. It’s that simple. And yes, it’s that hard. We’re called to permanently disrupt cycles of conflict and fear and pain in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. And unless we do that, the dreadful cycles that we find ourselves a part of, will only claim more victims.”

The BWA ministry is appealing for donations and prayer to end the war, heal the wounded, house the displaced, feed the starving and free the hostages. It’s very urgent indeed. Our partners have already got some aid in and being made available in the West Bank area and are urgently prepositioning it to move into Gaza as soon as possible. The money is already spent. And we do need to be generous, but I do want people to be generous in their prayer as well. At Baptist World Aid we’re praying for not just for peace, we’re praying for miracles,” its CEO declared.

“There is a long history of complex politics and regrettably, of conflict between the Jews and Palestinians. And we deeply lament that, as we do the most recent escalation of the conflict. As a humanitarian agency, we believe that civilians and particularly the most vulnerable — children, women, pregnant women, the elderly, those with disabilities, they must be protected no matter which side of the conflict they find themselves on,” Melissa Lipsett asserted.

She told Vision Radio that an abundance of compassion was needed for everybody involved. “Compassion alludes to kindness and sympathy. But, you know, there’s something deeper, something that’s even more profoundly powerful in its meaning. If we look at the original word for compassion, it means ‘to suffer with.’ Compassion means somebody else’s heartbreak becomes our own. Another’s suffering becomes our suffering. And, you know, we might think of the verse from Colossians, which goes: Put on then as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another. And if one has a complaint against the other, forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven, you say you also must forgive. This is what really compassion is all about.”

In describing in two words, the situation for both sides, Melissa Lipsett said: “For Israel and the Israelis, indeed for all Jews, it’s shocking fear. The horror of the events that were perpetrated by Hamas just over a fortnight ago are just that. They’re horrific. Now fear is not just contained within Israel’s borders, but it’s growing across the world as violence and division spreads. And alarmingly, we know that public hostility and indeed hate crimes directed towards the Jews are on the rise across Europe in these past few weeks.”

“For residents of Gaza, it’s misery and despair. You know, Gaza is half the size of Canberra and the ACT with over two million people. Half of these are children and teenagers. There are 50,000 women there scheduled to give birth in the next month alone; 1.4 million internally displaced; all of them living with no power; scarce food; a lack of fresh water; insufficient medical supplies; and sanitation systems are failing.”

“Just this morning we heard from our local health partner there that 34% of hospitals inside Gaza and 64% of primary health care facilities simply have ceased operating. They’re not functioning due to damage or indeed a complete lack of fuel. So the already fragile health system is completely overwhelmed. And you know, in the last 24 hours alone, we know that over 700 people, including over 300 children, have died. And we expect outbreaks of infectious diseases to only add to this in coming days. We’re talking about human catastrophe.”

The BWA boss reflected that the humanitarian crisis is spreading: “Tensions have already increased across the region, including in Lebanon where we have a long standing presence with local Baptist past partners. Actually, I just returned from Lebanon a fortnight ago where I was able to witness their caring for waves of Syrian refugees, and now they’re actively preparing to receive more displaced people. They’re stockpiling emergency food and medical supplies. They’re pre-positioning those in hotspots, preparing emergency shelters and accommodation, including using the local Baptist theological college and churches.

Israel has agreed this week to allow 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza every day which resumes the same level it was before the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Melissa Lipsett told Vision Radio: “This is the minimum of what the population in Gaza needs to survive, not to thrive, but to survive. We’re joining with other humanitarian agencies across the world who are calling for increased rapid, safe, unhindered access and to reach those most in need.”

Click below to listen the full interview with Melissa Lipsett: