A pastoral letter for peace in the Holy Land

Beloved sisters and brothers:

Over the weekend the world was shaken by Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israeli lives. This crisis quickly escalated with air raids, land battles, random killings, kidnappings and war propaganda. 

No one is more disadvantaged by this escalating situation than the civilians who just wish to live a normal life without fearing for their lives and livelihoods. This peaceful and quiet life is a reality many of us take for granted, but it remains a distant dream for them. 

While the Anabaptist-Mennonite community does not have church presence in Israeli and Palestinian territories, this is a land that pays homage to multiple faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As followers of the Prince of peace, as people who do not put trust in earthly rulers, we refuse to take sides with political interests, but mourn with all who suffer.

In a seemingly unending conflict in a place with connection to many people of faith, I want to call the global Anabaptist-Mennonite communion to remember:  

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place, for all who take the sword will die by the sword.
(Matthew 26:52, NRSVUE)

He shall judge between the nations
    and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation;
    neither shall they learn war any more.
(Isaiah 2:4, NRSVUE)

We ask churches and individuals to pray that the violence will end and that conciliation can begin.

  • Pray for the hostages to return safely to their homes and families.
  • Pray for those who mourn to be surrounded by loved ones as they grieve.
  • And pray that peace workers, negotiators and government staff will put people’s lives and human dignity above political or military gains.   

Although this conflict has been going on for decades, let us unite in asking our God to have mercy on Israel and Palestine, and for a just, peaceful and sustainable resolution to this crisis. 

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
In the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace, amen.

Henk Stenvers, MWC president

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