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Western allies blasted Syria over the weekend in response to reports the government used chemical agents against its own people, prompting international calls to prayer over the devastation.
President Donald Trump commended the strikes, which were carried out by the United States, France and Great Britain.
"When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Saturday.
Theresa May, prime minister of the U.K., says the airstrikes were "legally and morally right" to prevent "further human suffering."
BBC reports she said her country "explored every diplomatic channel" but regrettably decided there was no alternative to "limited, targeted action."
Trump still wants to bring U.S. troops home from Syria but has not set a timeline, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said two days after Western allies bombed Syrian targets over a chemical weapons attack. Sanders, speaking to reporters traveling with Trump to Miami, said the president also is still willing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but she indicated that no meeting is imminent, Reuters reported.
Syria, one of the countries specifically mentioned in the Bible, has faced international scrutiny over the rise of terrorism, fleeing refugees, Russian involvement and the Assad government's use of chemical warfare against its own people.
For international ministries like Open Doors, which assists persecuted Christians around the globe, the strikes demand a prayerful response.
"We firmly believe it's in the DNA of every believer to care for the suffering church—and we ask for your urgent prayers," Open Doors says in a statement.
They offered the following specific prayers for believers' use:
- Lord, we pray for peace and your protection over the men, women and children of Syria. Keep them safe from the bombs and missiles—no matter who is firing them.
- Father, we know that nothing is impossible for You. We ask you to stop this ongoing civil war in Syria and to provide stability and peace for its people and a future for this generation and generations to come.
- Lord, we pray for You to convict the hearts of the Syrian government to care for its people, more than power. We know that no leader is beyond Your reach and we ask—with unflinching courage at the foot of Your throne—for You to provide relief and hope for the people of Syria.
- Father, we lift up the church leaders in Syria, like Father Edward, and ask you to empower them with courage, wisdom and the resources to meet the needs of their people—and to be a light in the darkness.
- Lord, we join our brothers and sister in Syria—as one church—and pray this prayer from Psalm 33:20-22. "We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."
- Finally, Father, we pray for Your name to be known in Syria and for your sovereign will and purpose to prevail. And that through this tragedy and ongoing hardship many more people will come to know You—both through the bold, loving actions of the church and through your Word.
Here is what other leaders are saying:
Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary general of The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA):
Following the U.S. led multi-lateral strikes on Syria over the weekend, targeted with precision to destroy chemical weapons with no escalation, The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) leadership remains hopeful it will be an isolated incident with no retaliation. Recognizing complexities that remain, including the ongoing civil war and use of conventional weapons on citizenry, the WEA calls for prayer: that the atrocities committed in Syria—by too many parties to count—and the resulting suffering would come to an end. We pray for our brothers and sisters, including evangelical and Protestant pastors and their congregations who continue to make a difference in their nation even while they are caught in the crossfire. Further, we call on the Prince of Peace to bring peace in the Middle East and we pray for the leaders of all nations involved as they work to that end. We pray most of all for the millions of innocent individuals and families who have endured so much unnecessary pain for so long, including the more than 7 million Syrian refuges who have been displaced to other countries around the world.
Vernon Brewer, CEO and founder of World Help:
For Christians, our role in Syria hasn't changed one bit: We are still called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people in need. With or without these recent air strikes, the reality still remains that millions of families are in desperate need. They don't know where they're going to sleep tonight or whether they'll be able to provide food for their children. Some families have literally nothing besides the clothes on their back. Though we are thousands of miles away, Christ calls us to love these people as He loved us and to see them as He sees us. We may not be able to stop the bombs from dropping, but we can always do something to help someone in need.
The greatest thing to keep in mind when we're praying for the people of Syria is that they're really just like you and me. They have kids and grandkids that they're concerned about, parents they love and families they'd do anything to protect. So put yourself in their shoes and think about the things you would pray for if you were in their situation: You would pray for your kids' safety, for the opportunity for them to go back to school, for them to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to not let the hatred they've experienced poison their young hearts. You'd pray that you could return to work and provide for your family. You'd pray for enough food to eat. And you would pray that you could return home soon.
This story will be updated throughout the day. Please check back for the latest information.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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