Messages received recently from our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Lebanon:
“Since October 2019, Iraq has been going through a new series of crises: protests, strikes, and road blockage, random killing in the streets, kidnapping, assassinations, schools closing, electricity current cutting, water lacking, the terrible situations which our church members and believers go through.”
- Badveli Norek Hovsepian, President, Armenian Evangelical Community in Iraq
“The situation in Lebanon is getting darker and more intense by the day. The level of violence is getting more serious and rough for the people in the streets. The economic situation is getting worse; people are losing their jobs, others are only getting paid half of their salaries. The political situation also seems hopeless and very difficult to form a new government pleasing for all sides and political parties.
WE NEED HIS LIGHT! 'In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' John 1:4-5
Our only hope is in God! This is our prayer, and we want to invite you all to join us in this prayer. Remember the families, and especially the youth and the children in your prayers.”
- Armenian Evangelical Christian Endeavor Union of Syria and Lebanon
The dramatic conditions Badveli Norek Hovsepian describes are real and accurate. Also, the situation in Lebanon is getting worse. Without the Prince of Peace prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah, there will be no real peace. More than ever, we need to lift our voices to the Lord, the real source of peace, to remember and pray for our brothers and sisters and churches in Iraq and Lebanon.
When we lived in the Middle East, we greeted people on a daily basis with “Salam alekem” (peace be upon you). The given response would be “Aleh kom el salem” (peace also be upon you). This meant to each party: from the depth of our heart we greet you, the Peace of God be with you. The moment this greeting is given and received rightly, it means: I am not here to harm but to help you, you are not my enemy but my friend, without questioning who you are I will take care of you, without doubt I welcome you. This greeting, which acknowledges God as the source, creates an atmosphere of peace and is held sacred.
The word Shalom, in Hebrew, is derived from a root that conveys wholeness, unity, and harmony.
Peace is a relational concept. Our vertical relationship with the Lord is the first step toward real peace. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1; “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one.” Eph 2:14; “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Col 3:15. Our churches can experience this peace as they draw close to God. In our churches, our families, and privately, we must pray for this peace for others.
Peace is experienced through pleroma, which means fulness of the spirit. Being filled with the Spirit, our lives will reveal the fruit of the Spirit, and among these are love, joy and peace.
Peace is experienced even in the most difficult situations in our lives through the promise of his unshakable presence. Jesus told us, “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
As Christmas is upon us, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Lebanon, and let us also join the great company of the heavenly hosts singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” Luke 2:14. May we all by faith experience the presence of the Prince of Peace.
- Rev. Berdj Djambazian
Minister to the Union