My Heart Aches As I pray
By Rev. Alex Awad
a Christian minister
supported by the Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries
living in Beit Sahour
April 17, 2001

I pause and pray before my fingers hit the letters on the keyboard.  I
pause and seek the Almighty because I can’t find the right words and
phrases with which I can express the suffering and anguish of my friends
and neighbors. I lift my eyes to heaven because the injustices inflicted
on the Palestinian people and their leadership is becoming unbearable
while the world seems to care less. In my frustration I turn to God in
an attempt to understand why when it comes to Palestine, the United
Nations seems so inept, Europe largely indifferent and the rest of the
world incapable to put an end to injustice.   As I write, I pray again,
because the United States, the alleged champion of democracy and the
defender of human rights, continues to stand with the oppressor and with
those who steal and occupy rather than with those who are wronged. I
seek God because our representatives in Congress are ever eager to
please the rich and powerful in keeping with their tradition of blaming
the victim and empowering the arms of the destroyer. They finance those
who steal the land of the weak and demolish the homes of the poor to
build their own mansions in their places. My heart aches as I pray when
I think of the way the United States constantly and shamefully uses its
clout in the United Nations to stand against the human rights of all
Palestinians, but especially against the legitimate rights of the
Palestinian refugees; denying them the right of return to their homes. I
knock at the doors of God’s mercy and pray because Pharaoh, the messiah
of modern Israel, is hardening his heart and the leaders of the Western
world are clasping their hands in his bloody hands. I seek God as I pray
to understand why the Church is so indifferent to the suffering of a
whole nation and why so many in the Church opt to stand with aggression
while others are paralyzed by the fear of confronting the aggressor.

I ask God as I pray when will this injustice end and the violence stop?
When will the Holy Land dry out from the shed blood and tears of both
Palestinians and Israelis? When will the siege of all Palestinian towns
and cities be lifted? When will the Palestinian people realize their
dream of an independent state? When will Israel let go of the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip so Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side as
good neighbors in peace and security? When will the international
community join forces with Israelis and Palestinians to put an end to
the suffering of Palestinian refugees? And when will Jerusalem be an
open sanctuary for all who seek the God of Abraham? And when will
Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities cease to bear the brunt of
Israeli mortar shells and rocket attacks?

I plead before the throne of God’s grace as I write my last few lines
that God may grant sanity to the leaders of this land to “Let justice
flow…” I call on the God of justice to give the leaders of the United
States the spirit of fairness in dealing with the conflict that
destroyed so many lives throughout the Middle East. Then I whisper a
final prayer for God to stir up men and women in the Church and fill
them with courage to be instruments of his peace in this wounded land
and throughout the world.

I walk away from my keyboard with renewed confidence in my heart that
Christ, the Prince of Peace; will not rest “…till he leads justice to