A Palestinian Christian Plea for Compassion in Gaza - Word&Way

A Palestinian Christian Plea for Compassion in Gaza

The head of the U.N. food agency has declared northern Gaza to be in the grip of a “full-blown famine.” As the Israeli offensive continues to wreak havoc across the region, it has become painfully clear that nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are grappling with severe hunger. With Israel controlling all entry and exit points to Gaza, the entire population of Gaza now relies on its authorization to receive essential humanitarian aid and food for survival. Amidst the agony of the ongoing war, we find ourselves at a critical juncture where our Christian faith intersects with geopolitics.

Dr. Fares Abraham

Followers of Christ cannot ignore these stark realities. This is a time for decisive action. Despite these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for Christians to extend compassion to a population that has been forcibly displaced and starved.

After all, the Bible instructs us to do good to all people, especially those within the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). This command includes not only Jewish believers but also encompasses the rights and well-being of indigenous Palestinian Christians, who have lived in the Holy Land for centuries. Among these Palestinian Christians are 25 members of my wife’s family, who to this day are still taking shelter at two churches in Gaza. Furthermore, this directive extends to the millions of innocent Gazans who have endured collective punishment for the heinous actions of a few.

The evangelical community in the United States has largely shown unwavering support for Israel, both before and after the horrific October 7 attacks. In response, thousands of American evangelical churches and ministries swiftly mobilized, raising millions of dollars within days to aid Israel. Yet, beyond the massive military assistance provided by U.S. tax dollars, top evangelical figures felt compelled to go further, donating brand-new ambulances to Israel’s national emergency service, and other Christian organizations have even provided military gear to the Israeli army.

While supporting Israel may seem biblically justified to many evangelicals, we must also address the grim suffering endured by hundreds of thousands on the other side. Direct reports from our relatives and friends sheltering in churches in Gaza paint a harrowing picture of conditions on the ground. Hospitals lack not only ambulances but also basic painkillers, forcing doctors to perform amputations on children without anesthesia. With over 35,000 lives lost and no end in sight, the plight of the innocent Palestinian people remains dire.

In such dark moments, we must recalibrate our spiritual compass to reflect God’s heart for both sides. If we are to emulate Christ, we must mirror his compassionate heart towards those who were considered enemies of the Jewish people, as seen in his healing of the Roman centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13) and his interaction with the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mark 7:24-30).

A Palestinian woman holds her baby amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City on November 25, 2023. (Omar El-Qattaa/AFP via Getty Images)

The statistics are staggering — 50% of Gaza’s population under the age of 18 is severely traumatized by this war, leaving lasting scars for generations to come. Countless babies and infants suffer permanent damage due to malnutrition and neglect. Families are driven to desperate measures, resorting to feeding their children animal fodder and grass in a frantic attempt to alleviate hunger.

As Christians, we cannot remain silent in the face of such disparities. This contradicts our Christian faith and principles. While Israelis have the right to exist and live in peace with their neighbors, so do Palestinians, who have a rightful claim to live with dignity. While we fervently pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we must also unceasingly pray for the peace of Gaza.

What weighs heaviest on my heart, and on the hearts of all Christians in the region where I minister, is not only the deafening silence of the evangelical church in the United States towards the Palestinians but also the absence of Christ-honoring compassion during these darkest moments of our humanity. After all, the Jesus we follow in the Middle East would surely extend one hand to the grieving people in Israel while reaching out with the other to console, heal, and feed the people of Gaza.

As followers of Christ, our call to compassion is not contingent upon official declarations, the intricacies of politics, or theological disagreements. The situation described in northern Gaza, marked by the U.N. as a “full-blown famine” amid prolonged conflict, should stir us to act with the same urgency and empathy that Jesus showed. He would have already been there, breaking bread with those who suffer, overlooking any controversial or political barriers to meet dire needs. Our mandate to love and serve transcends these barriers, urging us to respond to human suffering with immediate and unconditional compassion.


Dr. Fares Abraham, a Palestinian-American born in Bethlehem, is the CEO of the Levant Ministries and an online chair at Liberty University. Follow him on Instagram and X @faresabraham