We are in prayer every day for what is happening in Israel and the Middle East. Israel was exposed to cruel acts of terrorism on Saturday 7 October, and is at war with Hamas. More than 1,400 people have lost their lives in Israel, around 200 people have been taken hostage. Innocent people who were brutally dragged from their homes, whole families, young, elderly, children and old! There is unimaginable suffering that happens. People suffer on both sides. We ask that Egypt’s border with Gaza be opened, so that innocent people can be rescued from the area. We pray for Israel’s leaders, for their defense and for all those who are called into the reserve forces and who come from all over the world to participate in the defense of the country. They are preparing for a possible ground invasion of Gaza, but at the same time we know that this is exactly what their enemies want. Get them into Gaza so they can kill even more people there. We must pray for wisdom over all decisions Israel will make in relation to this. We must ask for protection across the borders, and that no new fronts are opened in the war. We must ask that the rocket attacks stop, that Israel be protected from missile attacks, and that there is a demand all over the world for the acts of terrorism to stop, and for the hostages that have been captured to be released! Is there any other country that would not receive support and sympathy if they experienced what Israel is exposed to these days? The cruel war in Europe that is still ongoing, where Ukraine is attacked by Russia, has led to countries all over Europe welcoming people fleeing the war. We know how Oslo City Hall was illuminated with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, we know how the Ukrainian flag waved from buildings all over Europe. These are actions that express vital humanity, warmth, and support. It is the strong language of love that paralyzes evil and triggers human action and security in interpersonal relationships. We know how Ukrainians who entered various countries have been able to safely display their flag and let it fly from all the places they live because they know they are on safe ground. We have seen this with gratitude in our own country. On Sunday, we participated in the support rally for Israel in front of the Parliament. It was a peaceful, dignified rally. It started with a minute of silence for all the victims of the war. Many important speeches and appeals were made, both by members of Parliament and leaders of various organizations. Many people showed up, including a large presence of police to protect the rally. Many people had the Israeli flag with them. It was announced not to display them until we were on the square. To avoid provocation! I saw three young women, even with flags they were proud of, rushing towards an older woman holding an Israeli flag in her hand, screaming at her to remove it. The police had their hands full trying to hold them back and prevent them from attacking her! Because she was holding a small Israeli flag in her hand. After the gathering, we were asked to fold all the Israeli flags together before leaving the square. I was present at the rally after July 22nd in Oslo, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to “fill the streets with love,” as Crown Prince Haakon said in his touching speech that day. I stood there in the crowd when something none of us had ever experienced before happened: Roses in everyone’s hands were raised as a sea of flowers towards the sky, as if to say that we stand together, we stand together against terror, against hatred between people, against evil and injustice. A special sentence was formulated those days, it was on a sheet of paper that was handed out and passed from hand to hand in the rose parade; “If one man can show so much hatred, think how much love we can all show together.” A strong and important sentence in the midst of darkness. A sentence that lit up, that gave us direction. And this is what we wanted. We wanted to stand together and do exactly what the Bible itself says so clearly, we wanted to overcome evil by doing good. We wanted to push back fear. The fear of being subjected to more terror, more evil, more destruction. What should we do now? How should we handle this situation we are facing? How can we stand together with Israel in the deep tragedy they have experienced, and still experience now, on their own soil? The picture is so complex, there are so many layers to this, there is so much politics, and so much we don’t understand. But what we do understand is that allowing hatred to grow is a dangerous path. It is a path that will not lead to anything good. On the contrary, it can lead to the escalation of evil, and even more human lives will be lost! Therefore, we as believers must understand the spiritual dimension behind what we see, and we must use our weapons, which are spiritual and have their power from God. We must pray, intercede, and guard all the values we know are important for all people, for Israel, for Jews, for Arabs, for people all over our world. During World War II, there were some countries that managed to protect Jews amidst the unimaginable persecution they faced, leading to the extermination of more than 6 million Jews. One of these countries was Denmark, and it is said that the courage of the Danish king played a significant role. History tells us that when all Jews were required to wear the Star of David as a sign of their Jewish identity, so they could be singled out, the king himself wore the Star of David and asked all Danish citizens to do the same. Consequently, through this simple act, it was impossible to distinguish who was who. Later, the Danes managed to secretly evacuate almost all their Jews on small boats across the Skagerrak to Sweden. May God grant us wisdom in what we can do. History shows us that simple actions can make a huge difference. In these days, there are many brave individuals trying to do whatever little they can. An Arab Christian woman stands on a rooftop in an Arab country, proudly raising the Israeli flag. A young Iranian girl posts a message expressing her desire for a new regime in Iran, wishing that their two countries, Iran and Israel, could be friends. A cardinal offers to take the place of children as a hostage, to save them. Let us pray for wisdom, stand up for the truth, pray for our leaders, walk in the footsteps of love, and witness evil being pushed back by choosing to do good. Let us choose compassion and warmth, and speak, write, pray, and do whatever we can to show care and empathy for those who suffer. At the gathering on Sunday, where we stood together with hundreds of others, we heard Hebrew spoken beside us. We turned and said “shalom,” and the young woman holding a placard with a picture of one of the hostages told us that the woman on the placard was her friend, and that two other friends of hers who were at the music festival on October 7th were killed in the terrorist attack! Dear ones, these are unimaginable days. We know that the prophetic clock is ticking, and there are actions that will unfold in what is referred to as the end times. Where we stand on the prophetic timeline now, none of us knows. But what we do know is that God desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. We may not understand all the things unfolding in the political landscape. Nevertheless, even if we don’t comprehend everything happening, we can pray! And we can encompass all people in our prayers. Anne Christiansen
LET US STAND TOGETHER IN PRAYER! We urge everyone to come together in prayer for the next 7 days, praying from 06:30 to 07:00 every morning. Feel free to join others in prayer and please use these prayer points when you pray: 1) Pray for peace in Israel! 2) Pray for the protection of lives, both for Jews and Arabs! 3) Pray for those taken as hostages, that they may be rescued! 4) Pray for Egypt to open its borders and welcome those fleeing the war in Gaza! 5) Pray for Israel’s leaders and the Israeli defense forces. Pray for protection for all those called up in the reserve forces who are now preparing for a possible ground operation. 6) Pray for the cessation of rocket attacks, for Israel to be shielded from missile strikes, and for no new front to be opened in the war! 7) Pray for comfort and renewed hope for those who have lost loved ones! Pray for hatred and hostility to cease, and for the power of God’s love to touch hearts and minds throughout Israel and Gaza!
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