Last Saturday, 7 October, marked the beginning of another conflict between Israelis and Palestinians which has already caused hundreds of deaths and has escalated into a war.
Bible Society Australia is a part of the United Bible Societies (UBS) Fellowship, which has three Bible Societies present in the region: Bible Society in Israel, Bible Society in Palestine and the Arab Israeli Bible Society. The conflict affects all areas and communities in Israel and the West Bank.
Bible Society Australia has a long-term partnership with the Arab Israeli Bible Society, supporting them in maintaining a core presence in their community with Bible conferences for families, youth and women, as well as producing and distributing specialised Bibles and Bible engagement resources.
“My staff have not come to work today. They are afraid,” Dina, Director of the Arab Israeli Bible Society (pictured), shared on October 7. Dina sent an update to the UBS Fellowship, saying, “There are no cars in the streets, no schools, no universities. Everyone is at home. We are told to purchase food and water for a whole week. It might be even more. There are serious things happening … I think things will escalate even more. May God have mercy on all of us.”
Dina’s husband Yohanna is a pastor in Nazareth, and October 7 wrote, “Despite our courage and conviction to follow the prince of peace, we covet your prayers and solidarity. We are encountering a bad day and hope that this too shall pass. May the day be short, and its night be less gloomy. May we be the candles of hope, of peace, of faith, and of love. Remember the followers of Jesus as well as Israel/Palestine in your prayers.”
Yohanna, on October 9, says that many churches declared the need for prayer:
“We are begging God for mercy and for bringing peace to our region.” Yohanna says that their churches dedicated their Sunday services to teaching and preaching about “peace-making, the sovereignty of God, and the need to spread the gospel in a country that is marked with hatred and bigotry … We cry out for mercy and preserving the lives of the innocent.”
Victor, the Executive Director of the Bible Society in Israel, said that following the terrorist attacks, massacres and kidnappings: ‘Many are in a state of shock. Our staff is safe, but the situation is very tense. One of our staff was called for army duty. Some rockets fell very close to us. However, all of us are safe and thank you for your prayers.’
Similarly, Nashat, General Secretary of Palestinian Bible Society, was in touch with UBS and said: ‘The situation is bad, and we are sadly and suddenly in wartime! It is heart-breaking to see and hear the number of casualties! Please pray for us all and for our team everywhere and for their families …” Nashat also asked for prayer that the war would end quickly.
Dina provided the Bible Society community worldwide with a guide to pray for the region during this time of conflict, written by her husband Yohanna: