By Alexandra Nyoni

On Monday 1 April, suspected Israeli fighter jets carried out a missile strike on the Iranian consulate building and wider embassy compound in Damascus, Syria. The explosion occurred just after 5pm local time in the Mezzeh district of Syria’s capital city. Sixteen people were killed (eight Iranians,  five Syrians, and one Lebanese, and two civilians), including two of Iran’s top commanders, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and his Deputy General, Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi. The Iranian ambassador was not harmed, though his home on the top two floors of the consulate building was destroyed. The Iranian Foreign Ministry responded by saying Iran “reserves the right to carry out a reaction and will decide on the type of response and the punishment of the aggressor” and called on the United Nations to condemn the attack.

This attack has been described as a major escalation in the ongoing conflict in the region and threatens to further unravel regional security. It has increased tension particularly between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, who, since the beginning of the war on 7 October, have exchanged almost daily cross-border fire. With each additional report of air strikes and ground raids, it seems less likely that there will be a diplomatic solution to this conflict any time soon. While the devastation of war definitely warrants the attention of Christians and should at all costs be mitigated by believers through practical ministry outreach, we should also not be surprised by the recent escalations. In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of such things: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” As believers, we should stay focused on what we are called to do, and that is to go and make disciples of all nations and peoples (Matthew 28).

As Christians, we are not only experiencing physical battles, but spiritual ones (Ephesians 6). Thus, our most effective weapons are spiritual ones. We can pray for earthly peace, while also praying that those involved in perpetuating violence experience an encounter with the true Prince of Peace. We can provide physical food, water, and shelter, while praying that those who are lost would find all they need in Christ. We can pray for the end of physical war, but we must also realise that the Lord is at work in the midst of it, and His plans are beyond our human comprehension and His priorities are often different from ours. Throughout wars past and present, such as the Syrian war and the war in Ukraine, there have been testimonies of Gospel spread and droves of people coming to know Christ, in ways that would not have been possible without war. Perhaps the growth of the Syrian Church during its own conflict has prepared believers in the region to now reach out to their neighbours with empathy and understanding, having knowledge of what they are going through. Even as the Middle East region continues to be engulfed in war and conflict, with rumours only of escalation, let the Church remain Kingdom-focused, fervent in prayer, and hopeful for the return of our only source of true peace.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • For more souls to turn to Christ and find peace in Him, in the midst of the war
  • For the regional Church to remain focused on the Kingdom and not become distracted or despondent due to circumstances
  • For much needed relief and aid to reach those who are affected by the violence throughout the region