As violence intensifies today in the Gaza Strip – rockets from Hamas toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, air strikes and a possible ground attack from Israel – my heart is heavy. Concerned. I fear for my friends there.

A few years ago I met a wonderful man from Gaza – Khaled – while he was in our city working on his master’s degree. We had such good discussions about life in Gaza and our respective faiths – sometimes until 1 or 2 in the morning. Sometimes his other friends from Gaza would come over and join in the conversations, like in the picture above. I still remember what one of them told me as he walked me to my car:

“If we do not work to have peace between us now, our sons may fight against each other one day.”

As one who wants to build bridges and tear down walls between Muslims and Christians, I am only too eager to work for peace. And pray for it too.

This is my prayer for peace tonight:

“Father, I confess to you that I am very worried about Khaled and the other men from Gaza that I care about. I am concerned for their safety and that of their families. Dear Lord, please protect them! Almighty God, please preserve lives – especially the women and children. Let this conflict not explode and carry over into the surrounding nations. You know I care about the Palestinian people so much. I long to see them have the same freedoms I enjoy. Please do a miracle, Lord. Bring peace between the Jewish and Palestinian people. You love them both. You are a God of peace. I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.”