Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 437 | Wed 11 Jul 2007
In the Middle East, Sunni and Shiite Muslims are embroiled in a
political struggle for supremacy that started over thirteen hundred
years ago. Shiite theology says only a direct descendant of
Mohammed can lead Muslims, thus delegitimising Sunni dictatorships.
Sunnis have countered with a fiercely anti-Shiite doctrine. Through
the 1970s some Iranian Shiite leaders adopted Marxist revolutionary
thought, led a Shiite Revolution (Iran 1979) and Shiism became
ascendent. For 35 years the main bulwark against revolutionary
Shiism's expansion was the Sunni Baathist regime controlling Shiite-
majority Iraq. The Sunni/Shia demographic in the Middle East is
nearly 50/50 and a major Sunni vs Shiite conflagration would
devastate the heartland and nerve-centre of Islam. Iraq is ground
zero in that struggle. However one factor uniting fundamentalist
Sunnis and Shiites is the commitment they share to destroy Israel.
In the Levant, the local agenda of Islamist Sunnis has converged
with the regional agenda of the Syria-Iran Shiite axis; hence the
Hamas (Sunni) - Iran (Shiite) alliance.
The Palestinian Territories and Lebanon are prime sites for
conflict as they are home to local Islamist militants - Hamas and
Hezballah respectively - whom the Iran-Syria Shiite axis can co-opt
and support to advance their regional agenda. All the local
Islamists need to do is overthrow the 'apostate' regimes and
Islamist forces will have access to the borders of Israel. This has
already happened in Gaza and now eyes are on the West Bank and
Rumours abound that violence will erupt in Lebanon during Summer or
Spring. It is circulating that the Syria-backed Hezballah may
stage a coup against the Sunni-led, US-backed elected government or
else establish a parallel government to rule over territories it
dominates. Weapons have reportedly been flowing in from Syria. Many
observers believe this civil conflict is imminent. If it erupts and
is not quickly resolved then Israel will probably be targeted.
Being militarily weak, Islamic militants rely on terrorism, human
shields and propaganda. During the Hezballah vs Israel war of July
2006, Hezballah persistently launched rockets into Israel from
behind UN posts and from inside residential complexes and Christian
Lebanon's Christians are facing perilous times, for whenever Sunnis
and Shiites fight each other, Christians and Jews suffer
enormously, primarily because Islamic fundamentalist zeal boils.
Also, concerned Sunni and Shiite leaders wanting to minimise intra-
Islam conflict will seek to unite the Muslim sects against a common
'enemy' - Israel, Christians, the US and US-backed regimes - to
advance the common goal of Islamisation. As lamented recently by
Lebanon's Maronite Catholic leader, Archbishop Beshara Rai of
Byblos, 'If the Sunnis and Shiites agree, their agreement would
come at the expense of the Christians. And if they disagree, the
Christians become their victims.'
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR -
* God to use the turmoil to deliver many people from darkness:
opening their ears and hearts to the gospel and drawing them
close to himself. 'He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
and opens their ear by adversity.' (Job 36:15 ESV)
* the Holy Spirit to give great spiritual wisdom, understanding
and courage to all Lebanon's Christian leaders - religious,
political and social - so that they will be united and enabled
to lead according to God's will and for his glory.
* the comforting presence of our loving Saviour Jesus Christ to be
known by faith and experience by all Lebanon's Christians,
bringing peace, love, joy and revival to the Church.
* God to protect his children, meet their needs, and preserve his
Church. (Hebrews 1:14)
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
CHRISTIANS IN LEBANON FACING PERILOUS TIMES
While Iraq is ground zero in the great Sunni vs Shiite Muslim
struggle for dominance, Lebanon is a prime site for conflict. In
the Levant the agenda of local Islamic militants - the Sunni Hamas
in the Palestinian Territories and the Shiite Hezballah in Lebanon -
has converged with the regional agenda of the Iran-Syrian Shiite
axis to destroy Israel. Hamas (though Sunni) backed by Shiite Syria
and Iran has captured Gaza. The situation now in Lebanon is
explosive. It is rumoured that Shiite Hezballah, also backed by
Syria and Iran, will soon stage a coup against the Sunni-led, US-
backed government. Whenever Sunnis and Shiites fight each other,
Christians and Jews suffer as Islamic zeal boils. Furthermore,
Christians are frequently exploited as human shields for strategic
purposes. Please pray for the Church in Lebanon.
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.