A Call for Prayer for Peace in Syria
Prayer is urgently needed for efforts to negotiate peace in Syria, which is entering the sixth year of a war that has resulted in thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. I urge all Methodists and other lovers of peace to ask God to:
- Sustain and prosper the United Nations-organized diplomatic initiatives toward peace taking place in Geneva,
- Plant seeds of peace in the hearts of the belligerents and their allies, and
- Strengthen the resolve of peacemakers, including Staffan de Mistura, the Italian-Swedish diplomat who leads the U.N. team.
Pray also for the welfare and release of two Orthodox Christian archbishops from Aleppo, Syria, who were kidnapped in April 2013 near the Turkish border while on a trip to seek the release of two priests. They are Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi. Their fates remain unknown.
Attempts to open the Geneva peace talks are fraught with complexities. Even before the consultations among the contending parties began at the end of January they already had encountered difficulties over representation and pre-conditions for negotiations. The talks are intended to end the fight between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, and rebel forces, the largest group backed by Saudi Arabia, who are opposed to what they charge is a corrupt Assad government. The situation in Syria is made worse by an incursion into the country by the self-proclaimed Islamic State based in neighboring Iraq. The conflict has left 13.5 million people destitute in Syria and 4.4 million seeking refuge outside the country.
The start of the Syrian crisis’ sixth year prompted more than 120 humanitarian organizations, including the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, on January 21 to join in a common plea for a diplomatic end to the conflict. The signers also asked that until peace is achieved safe access be provided for the care of suffering people and that attacks on civilians be stopped. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has granted more than $3.5 million since 2010 to assist refugees from Syria and Iraq.
In the spirit of the humanitarian overture, I urge all people of goodwill to join in prayer for swift and lasting peace in Syria and the release of all hostages and kidnapped civilians.
Blessed are the peacemakers”
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church