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In Paris, ‘death, pain & terror’ met by prayer, hope

PARIS — Friday the 13th became a day of infamy in Paris after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead and 350 wounded.

“This has been the worst attack in Paris since World War II,” said Tara Chaney*, an missions worker in France. “People are in a state of shock and mourning; however, there is also a sense of resolve. Parisians are slowly going about their lives. They want to prove to the terrorists that they have not won.”

The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility, yet many Muslims around the world took to social media to condemn the attacks, citing a difference between Islam and extremist dogma.

Mark Edworthy, a mission’s top strategist for Europe, said, “Some rush immediately to political or even ideological reasons behind the acts, but our workers understand the spiritual dimension of darkness in the world and the reality that violence can erupt anywhere and any time.”

Edworthy added that some would think the immediate response is that Paris needs to monitor more closely the whereabouts of known terrorists or some other “empty solution” to a very complicated problem. “But our workers have one driving thought: ‘Paris needs Jesus,'” Edworthy said.

“There are so many hurting people in our city,” said Rebecca Edwards*, a Christian worker in Paris. “Aside from those who have been personally affected by the loss of loved ones or the terror of being directly involved in the attacks, there are millions of people living in this city who do not have the hope that comes with knowing of the love of Jesus Christ.”

Friday night’s carnage included three separate explosions near the national stadium, where an international soccer match was being held. The deadliest onslaught, however, was at the Bataclan concert hall, where attackers took hostages and engaged in a standoff with police until nearly 1 a.m. Saturday.

French President Francois Hollande called the attacks “an act of war.”

Michael Harrington, a Christian worker in France, said, “These were not shootings in dark neighborhoods, not government targets, not military quarrels. Rather, the shootings and bombings today happened in the places of Paris in which life occurs every day: cafés, restaurants, the stadium, a concert hall. The purpose was clear: death, pain and terror.

“Are the French people hurting? Without a doubt,” Harrington said. “Many will find their loved ones home and safe, but there are over 300 people that are not home, nor safe. Our hearts hurt. Our colleagues have expressed solidarity in the face of hurt, pleading adherence to 1 Timothy 2:1-8, which calls for petitions, prayers and intercession.”

The French Baptist Federation posted a response to Friday’s Paris attacks, saying, “Again this year, our country has now experienced the horror of terrorism: dark, cold, blind and blinded. France, where a state of emergency has been declared, wakes up in pain, grief and bereavement. Beyond outrage, sadness and incomprehension, [we] share compassion for the victims and families affected by these murderous attacks. It encourages all to mobilize our churches to actions of help and support in prayer. The Bible invites us to establish a footprint of prayer in truth and love, commitment and authenticity.”

In January this year two gunmen stormed the Paris office of the publication Charlie Hebdo, killing 11.

Trey Cassidy*, an Christian strategy leader in France, said, “We mourn with our French brothers and sisters that many did not come home after the attacks. It brings to mind the verse in John that our enemy is a thief who ‘comes to steal, kill, and destroy.'” He encouraged the Christian community to not wait and see how others will respond to this tragedy. “Let us, as the body of Christ, be the first to respond with comfort for those grieving and an offer to share our hope,” he said.

— by Charles Braddix | BP

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