Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 20 - Word&Way

Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 20

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

One of the most used words in Israel and Palestine is “peace.” We read about it in the newspapers, politicians promise peace, and we all hope to have it. But we find that peace is far away from us. Instead of peace, our land is full of violence, hatred, and revenge — more now than any time before.

I grew up in this situation, a situation of wounded hearts and suffering people. As a citizen in this country, I always wondered if there was any hope that we could ever live in peace. As I was growing up, I thought that the solution should be a political one, and for some time I even put my hopes in the politicians. But soon I discovered that peace does not come through these people.

A nativity scene inside the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the West Bank town of Bethlehem with a figure symbolizing baby Jesus lying amid the rubble of Gaza on Dec. 10, 2023. (Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press)

A turning point in my life was when I started to understand that as Christians our role is not only to pray for peace or hope for it, but rather be the instrument that God uses to bring peace and hope to the hopeless and the restless people in this land.

I’m aware that many Christians around the world pray for the peace of Israel and Palestine and the rest of the Middle East, especially in these difficult days. And this is very much needed. Yet, I would like to bring your attention to the notion that the Christians who live here already are the answer to your prayers. They are the instruments that God is using to bring his peace.

Therefore, I urge you to seek God and find out in which way you can stand alongside them — how you can encourage their ministries, whether it is a church, Bible bookshop, or a seminary. Help them while they are persevering, even as a small minority, to present true hope for this region.

Rev. Azar Ajaj is president of Nazareth Evangelical College and co-author of Arab Evangelicals in Israel.


NOTE: This is part of our Unsettling Advent devotionals running Dec. 3-Dec. 24. You can subscribe for free to receive them each morning in your inbox.