Overshadowed in the media by escalating crises throughout the Middle East, violence in Libya is crippling the capital. At least 50 people have been killed in fighting since hostilities began the week of July 14, according to the health ministry. Heavy fighting between rival militias broke out in and around Tripoli’s main international airport on the 20th, causing a huge fire when fuel tanks were ignited by rocket attacks. The fighting completely shut down Tripoli International Airport as airliners were destroyed on the tarmac and control tower operations were disabled.
In October 2011, the people of Libya celebrated the hope of a new era of democracy. Three years after their hopeful new beginning, less than half of the eligible voters took part in the June 24th national elections. Election results, announced July 20th, faded into a backdrop of disillusionment as former rebels, now rival factions, fought for control in Tripoli and Benghazi. Libya seems to be on the edge of being a failed state, taken over by radical groups and warlords.
As anarchy threatens to plunge the nation further into chaos diplomatic staff from the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Austria prepare to evacuate; and as of July 29th, Canada’s staff was temporarily working out of their embassy in Tunisia. The United States, Turkey and the U.N. have already shut down operations in Libya.
Among all the residents in Libya, (foreign) Christians are seemingly among the most targeted and vulnerable groups, suffering more intensely during times of of anarchy. On July 23rd the Libya Herald reported that a Filipino construction worker was found decapitated in Benghazi six days after he was kidnapped in the city’s Gwarsha district. This victim was reportedly targeted because his assailants believed him to be Christian.
Father, at times like this we are overwhelmed with the violence raging across the globe. We pray for changed hearts that turn to You and we pray for Your peace and justice to reign in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. We pray for the Libyan government to be strengthened to restore order. And we lift before You our brothers and sisters who are being singled out as Christians and killed. We pray that you will grant them an uncommon courage to stand faithfully in the face of what must be a huge temptation to deny their faith. And we pray for opportunities for them to share the gospel among their Muslim neighbors who are living both in spiritual darkness and in fear in the midst of this civil war. We pray especially for those believers who are under threat from extremist groups. Protect them, Father, and restore peace in their hearts and minds. We look toward the day when every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the name of Jesus, whom we serve and worship, Amen.