They’re are still Christians in Gaza, about 1070, according to Matthew Barnes, who works with Open doors and their partners in Gaza.
“I asked the priest yesterday, what do the people need?” Barnes told the Other cheek. He said, peace. We need peace in Gaza, and in Israel, that’s what we need. But on the other hand, also the basics. The basics to survive for those who lost their home, a new place to stay, a place to sleep, to have food, that kind of thing.
“So pray that they will be provided with that, but also pray that there will be reconciliation in the near future because of course there is hatred on both sides. And there is a sense of the other one is the enemy, of course. And yeah, there should be some restoration in the future.
“Especially what we hear from the churches, from the church leaders over there is they need all the basics to help the people who fled to the churches. There are hundreds now who try to find a safe place in the church buildings or in schools of the churches, and yeah, they need food, water, mattresses, electricity. Some of the houses of Christians are already damaged or totally destroyed because they were in the areas that were bombed, and those people are desperate.”
The Other cheek pushed back a little, thinking that the prayer points were possibly one sided.
“No, no, no. I said it’s for both sides that peace will come because at this moment we were also, what Saturday happened, the attack came from Gaza,” Barnes replied. “The rockets were fired from Gaza. The Hamas went out of Gaza and killed people. We all have seen that. So we pray and stand with the Christians in Israel the same as we stand with the Christians in Gaza and on the West Bank. We are an organisation driven by supporting the church, and that’s the church on every side.”
Because he works with Gazans, Barnes naturally knows more of their situation. The people in the North of the Gaza Strip where where the main population centres are have been told to move to the South by the Israeli Defence Forces, so it is likely the churches shelters are emptying.
“To be honest, I could cry the past days and I have done that,” Barnes said to the Other Cheek. “It’s very hard to see what’s happening. And it’s very hard to see that this conflict is going on already for decades, of course. And people are without hope. People always have to account [for] a new outbreak of violence on both sides, and that’s terrible. It’s terrible that people live together like this. It’s not meant how it should be … And it’s hard to see that Christians have to run to church buildings losing everything. Now they have to run from their city to somewhere, not knowing what’s going to happen.”
Image: Gaza October 10, 2023 Credit: UNWRA Photo