After hosting an exquisite lunch today, my friend Christie passed along a slightly tattered document: a copied fax, dated 12 March 1994, sent to my parents’ church along with an INGO situation update that my Papa shared with the whole congregation. Reading it brought back memories of tense times (there were quite a few during my 5 yrs there!), but methinks the prayers therein are still applicable – not only for Israel/Palestine but many other places of conflict. So, with my Papa’s encouragement, I would like to share this as a ‘blog’ from a much younger Virginia… & if you have loved ones living in challenging places, may this be of comfort.
12 March 1994: PRAYER APPEAL FROM BETHLEHEM
“To cry out to the God of life in the midst of darkness, to hold on to joy while walking in the valley of tears, to keep speaking of peace when sounds of war fill the air – that is what prayer is about. It is indeed a clinging to the Lord when all is being torn apart by greed, hatred, violence & war. In its pure form, prayer is the divine breath of those whom the world tries to suffocate with terror. Prayer is the martyrdom of those who live.” Henri Nouwen
This crazy red head sends greetings and love from Bethlehem to you at the WCC family. Depression reigns here as 64+ Palestinians have been killed the past two weeks, including 30 shot by an Israeli settler at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron on Feb. 25. Surviving these tense times in the West Bank and Gaza has been rather challenging. God has been really good in the protection department lately – His angels must be clocking overtime. Feb. 25 I was down in Gaza and woke up to frenzied demonstrations as news of the massacre in Hebron hit the streets. Zooming out through barricades and military blocks on to my home in ‘curfewed’ Bethlehem, God’s faithfulness has been REAL.
Although a major ocean separates us, your prayers transcend minor water barriers and God has been very GOOD. I have not felt scared… sure there’s been slight anxiety at times, but He has been very faithful to keep me from totally freaking out. I have been memorizing 2Corinthians 4, which has played over and over again in my head like a tape recorder, strengthening my resolve and faith that God can work even in awful circumstances. “… But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…”
Lord Jesus I pray for hearts of flesh to replace hearts of stone in Israel… in the West Bank and Gaza Strip… in Washington DC… in the U.N. Please let Your peace flow like a river through this land encompassing all peoples living here who are loved equally in Your sight. Fill the soldiers with Your compassion. Please curb the increasing tide of violence that threatens prospects for peace. Disarm the hatred with Your love. Strengthen the Christians in this area to be Your light in the swirling darkness. Grant courage to those seeking to be bridges across the schism dividing the peoples here, especially now.
And Lord Jesus, please continue to send Your shipments of hope in where so many discouraged with words need actions of peace. Stir the leaders’ hearts… shake them up to DO SOMETHING before the chance for peace passes. Holding onto Your joy while walking this valley, please be with Your crazy red head and others serving You here, by granting Your peace in tears on anguish. (And please grant families and friends the peace of Your Holy Spirit to know that we are cradled in YOUR HANDS, the safest place of all to be…)
Clutching Bumbles (her Teddy Bear)
(alias “Ginny Lea”)