Church leaders from the Holy Land and Sudan have spoken out about the conflicts in their countries, calling for support for their vulnerable Christian communities. Churches in both places have come under attack, and Christians have been caught up in the violence.
Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, President of Bethlehem Bible College, told SAT‑7 ARABIC’s You Are Not Alone how he traveled with a delegation to Washington to seek protection for Christians in the Gaza region.
“We met with senators and members of the Congress in Washington and four assistants to President Biden to deliver a message from the pastors in Jerusalem to ask them to stop the war. Some said they would try. We held 20 meetings in three days,” he said.
“I believe the Church must have a voice – what I call a prophetic voice – to tell the truth and ask for justice for the people. The Church must not be afraid to call out for justice for the oppressed,” Dr. Sara said.
His call comes as two Christian women – a mother and daughter – were shot dead at the Holy Family Church complex in Gaza on Saturday (December 16). Seven others suffered gunshot injuries. Those still sheltering there are trapped and fear for their safety. Another part of the church compound housing 54 disabled people was also struck, causing a fire that destroyed the building’s generator, its only source of electricity. The building is no longer habitable, leaving some of the disabled people without access to their respirators.
Another church leader from the Holy Land, Pastor Nizar Toma from Nazareth, also spoke to You Are Not Alone, echoing Dr. Sara’s call for the war to end. “Our message as Christian Arabs living in the region is a message of peace,” he said. “The Church is politically unbiased, but our hearts are breaking for those in pain and the victims.”
He added, “There are also Jews who are Christian believers, and they lost their homes and loved ones in the war. We have a role to help all those in need. I want to say to the leaders of the world to seek peace. Help those in dire circumstances and have mercy on them.”
Sudan has been in a state of conflict since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in April, but it has been described as a “forgotten war” because of the limited international attention it has received. Nearly seven million people have been displaced inside and outside the country, which has descended into economic and humanitarian crisis. A number of church buildings in Sudan have been attacked; some have been occupied and turned into military bases.
Pastor Yehia Nalo, President of the Evangelical Church Synod in Sudan, told You Are Not Alone that the presence of Christians in Sudan is “under threat because of direct attack” on the community. He asked for prayer support so that “people would remain steadfast in the faith.”
He continued, “The Church in Sudan has seen several levels of persecution, and this is no different. Every time the Church experiences persecution, it comes out stronger in faith. This is the Church in the Bible. Nothing can defeat the word of God. It will continue until the coming of Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Nalo thanked SAT-7 for its support. “I like the name of this program: ‘You are Not Alone.’ It gives me comfort and makes me feel that we are not alone.”
You Are Not Alone also spoke to people in refugee camps in Gaza. Wesal Abu Oudeh, who is pregnant and has two children, is living in a tent after her home was flattened. “I fear the future because whatever plan I make gets destroyed,” she said. “I had been dreaming of building our home for eight years, and after we had lived in it for only eight months, the war came and destroyed our ambitions.”
Another woman, Ghada El Karm, is living in a refugee camp that is accommodating around 50,000 people, even though its capacity is for only 3,000. “It’s a tragic situation,” she said. “We are in tents in this cold winter weather. There are no beds or covers. The drinking water is polluted and difficult to get.”
A man in the same camp, Aysar Nasrallah, said that his family had scattered to different places so they would not all be killed if a missile struck one area. “People are angry,” he said. “The humanitarian situation is not good. We struggle every day. Every morning, we wake up and go out to search for wood to make fire. Prices are high. We try to search for medicine for the sick. Many cannot find the treatment they need. We hear missile strikes all day long. We pray action would be taken swiftly to relieve us.”