Brethren are called to prayer in the face of extremist violence




A lamp burns on a worship table

Newsline Special - Nov. 14, 2015

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley...” (Psalm 23:4).

As the world begins to comprehend the magnitude of yesterday’s terror attacks in Paris, Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger is calling the church to prayer for those affected by extremist violence in Paris, and around the world.

Brethren are encouraged to bring into the sphere of prayer all people affected by violence--those hurt and killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris and the bombings that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday evening; communities in northeast Nigeria that are still suffering from violence; the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and those affected by continuing fighting in South Sudan and Darfur; the people of Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan who have suffered years of war; those caught up in an escalating situation in Israel and Palestine; the people hurt and killed by gun violence in the US; the children fleeing gang and drug-related violence in Central America; and other places around the world where violence seems to prevail.

“The grief grips at our hearts, but I am reminded by the Nigerian church’s witness--in the midst of violence they also took the time to pray for those who perpetrated the violence, for the light of Christ to remove the veil of darkness from the minds of Boko Haram,” said Noffsinger. “So today, while my prayers remember Parisians and the French people, I also pray that the light of Christ remove the veil of darkness which clouds the minds of terrorists, and those of us who are citizens in countries that may have acted in unjust ways. God, may the light of Christ illuminate the path to justice and peace.”

Noffsinger serves on the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee and has been in conversation by e-mail with members of the WCC Executive Committee as they prepared the following statement. The WCC Executive Committee is currently meeting in Switzerland. Their statement is recommended as guidance for prayer, and as inspiration for considering how Christians and the church may best respond to extremist violence:

Statement on terrorist attacks in Paris
A statement of the World Council of Churches Executive Committee, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, Nov. 13-18, 2015:

“God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

On Friday 13 November, the people of Paris again confronted terror, violence and death, following attacks that left more than 120 people dead and hundreds more injured. Today our hearts and minds are with the victims, their families and friends, with all those who mourn, and with all the people of France. We are with them in deep compassion and prayer. We pray that they may be comforted, by the love and care they have received from those who have now brutally been taken away, and by the support and solidarity of others, of their families and of their neighbors--whoever or wherever they may be.

The people of Lebanon faced the same violence and sorrow a few days ago, adding to the tragically long list of countries and people affected by such attacks.

Together as one humanity, as people of every faith and none, we should show that our shared respect for human life and dignity is stronger than this evil act of terror, this perversion of religion. As representatives of churches from across the whole world, we the executive committee of the World Council of Churches meeting at this time in Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland, pray and trust that God, the creator and the source of all life, will comfort, console and protect those affected by these attacks and all those who suffer and fear. We hope and pray that they will receive and be assured by these signs that they are not alone.

In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence. We cannot and do not accept that such a terrorist atrocity can ever be justified in the name of God or of any religion. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic, intercultural and human rights values that this terrorism seeks to attack. Let us not allow these events to diminish our care and hospitality to those fleeing violence and oppression. Let us continue to strive to do what we know is required of us: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God on the way of justice and peace.

-- Find a related news release from the WCC at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-strongly-condemned-terror-attacks . To find this statement online go to www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/statement-on-terrorist-attacks-in-paris .

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