Prayers for peace

at home and abroad

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

My husband and I were on a Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem in mid-November when we began to hear from concerned family and friends in the States: It was “raining bullets” on the Gaza strip, and they were frightened for us.

Just 70 miles away from the Holy Land, tensions between Islamic extremists who have taken over the Gaza strip and the state of Israel had reignited. Israel had targeted and killed an Islamic jihadi. Fundamentalist inhabiting Gaza retaliated, launching rockets about 30 miles into Israel.

Our tour leader assured us of our safety as we traveled by bus to our next stop, a church marking the place where Jesus was held prisoner the night before he carried the instrument of his own death — a wooden cross — to the place of his death. We sent word back home, in the words of our guide, that “this was, unfortunately, a part of life in this part of the world.”

Little did we know that around the same time, a mere 30 miles from our home in Ashland, someone shot out a random storm of 20 bullets in South Richmond, critically wounding a 12-year-old girl who was asleep at home in her bed. Someone in Petersburg also shot a man. Another person with a gun in South Chesterfield shot two people. Then, within the same short time frame, a 16-year-old at a high school in California shot and killed two teenagers and then himself.

I doubt any of our new acquaintances in Jerusalem heard about these incidents. But had anyone asked us about them, I’d have said that “this was, unfortunately, a part of life in this part of the world.”

I suppose it’s not really that odd that I say the same prayer for peace and healing for the families and children in Virginia and California as I do for those in Gaza. After all, we, too, live in a war zone.

Stephanie Shareck Werner.


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