In the entire region, the cracks of division are deep and inflamed.
But David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., said God has historically used "even the worst of circumstances and the most dangerous leaders" as a chance to show His glory and advance the Gospel.
And it is an opportunity for the worldwide church's unity to make a difference through love, Platt said in an interview with Baptist Press.
"Let's explore ways we can come alongside our brothers and sisters, serving next to them, speaking on their behalf, hurting with them and giving to them in healthy ways," Platt said. "As the various churches in the New Testament came together for the support of the church in Jerusalem, we have an opportunity to show the unity and care that Christ intends to characterize His people."
Prayer is first and foremost, Platt said. "Let's pray that God will even use our care for churches and Christians in the Middle East to be a testimony to a watching world of God's gracious care for all who trust in Him."
It would also be wise, Platt said, for believers to seek out opportunities to come alongside their brothers and sisters in North Africa and the Middle East through contacts such as the International Mission Board.
Believers could also pray that, as flashpoints of unrest develop, Christian leaders would have wisdom and grace to reach out to others and lead local believers to trust Christ and share His Word in the face of all that's happening, Platt said.
"There is obviously much to be determined in the days ahead in the Middle East and much to be discerned regarding what all this means for the church," he said. "Will Christians be more free or less free to share their faith? Will Muslims be more open or less open to hearing about the freedom that is found Christ? Regardless of the answers to these questions, let's continue to pray that followers of Christ will speak His Word with great boldness and that people without Christ will have their eyes opened to the goodness and grace of God in the person and work of Christ."
Political leaders in Egypt, Libya and other countries in conflict — as well as those in negotiations with them — need prayer as well, Platt said. "We need to pray for freedom to prevail and for peaceful transitions of power now and in the days ahead as various individuals, people groups and political ideologies clash in these countries."
But most importantly, believers should pray that the Gospel makes significant inroads during this time of severe unrest and the days that follow, Platt said.
"Let's pray that God will use all of these circumstances to lead men and women to the freedom that is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "Let's pray for millions to come to faith in Christ in the Middle East in the days ahead and for unreached people groups to be penetrated with the Gospel in the midst of all that is going on."
Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer/editor based in Europe.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net