Churches impacted by Holy Land conflict
Footage received by SAT-7 captures a heart-stopping moment when a blast outside a church sends shockwaves of fear through the families gathered inside. It shows how quiet prayers turn to gasps of alarm as the impact of the explosion is felt and heard.
It seems that nobody inside the Holy Family Church in Gaza was injured, and the building did not appear to be damaged in the incident last Wednesday (1 November). But other church buildings and property have been directly hit in this conflict, where there are no places of safety.
On 19 October, St Porphyrius Church was hit in an airstrike that killed 20 people, including 18 Christians who were mostly from a single family. The shelling destroyed one of the buildings in the church’s complex, where hundreds of people – Christian and Muslim – were sheltering. Other buildings on the site were badly damaged, and many people were left with injuries.
St Porphyrius is believed to be the third oldest church in the world, dating back to 425 AD. The people who had been sheltering there were moved to the Holy Family Church, which is nearby. But as the footage sent to SAT-7 shows, it is not safe there either.
“The people need help”
The blast at St Porphyrius Church came just two days after the explosion at the Anglican-supported Al-Ahli Hospital, which shocked the Christian community. But despite the dangers, the Church in the Holy Land remains committed to serving people in need.
In an interview on SAT-7’s A Different Angle program on 25 October, Father Fadi Diab said the hospital had resumed its services. He said that it had served for 130 years, witnessing many wars: “The hospital has many specialties and treats everyone. We don’t ask the people who come in what their affiliation is, but we ask them what they complain of.
“The ceiling of one of the operating rooms collapsed. The emergency department was destroyed, and the church next to the hospital was affected. The library was also affected. But despite all the challenges, the hospital is back in operation because the people need help.”
Christian presence under threat
The presence of the Church in the land where Jesus was born is significant, though the Christian population is small at around 1.6%. The death and displacement of believers and the destruction of church property in this latest conflict threatens the future of the Christian presence in the territory. It has been dwindling in recent years as a result of wars and violence.
SAT-7 is continuing to amplify the voice of the Church in the Holy Land and wider region through live broadcasts and a social media prayer campaign. Every Friday, “The Voice of the Church in the Midst of Hardship” airs live on SAT-7 ARABIC and Facebook, featuring prayers from church leaders and viewers across the Middle East. In Friday’s show, Pastor Nizar Toma of Nazareth Evangelical Church, prayed:
“Our heavenly Father, we come to You who made the Church and put it in the world to be light to the world. Lord, we pray that you put a stop to the war just as you put boundaries to the sea, in the name of Jesus. Put an end to the suffering, pain, and tribulation because of conflicts in our region. We pray that you protect the innocent and the people from evil… Everyone is affected by this war. Heal our hearts and our countries. Save us from the war. We have no-one but You. Keep us in the faith. End the war in the name of Jesus. Amen.”