Someday I’m going to blog on prayer as an act of service. I think that would be a nice subject to philosophize about. You could recount the benefits to the prayer as well as to the prayee. You could imagine the power in the combined focus of ten or fifty or a thousand minds on a single subject, willing good toward a person or family. You could cite the Brother of Jared from the Book of Mormon and what he achieved by faith. Or, Alma the Elder and what his prayers for his son accomplished.
BUT, that’s for another day. Today I don’t want to talk about prayer in the abstract. I want to get concrete about it and enlist your faith and prayers for the family of a young man who is a friend of our family.
His name is Hani. I blogged about him shortly after I first met him. The picture at the left was taken when he spent the Christmas of 2007 with us. (Hani is in the blue coat) A graduate of BYU, he attended on a BYU scholarship and was my son’s roommate. Hani is from Gaza and is a devout Muslim. While at BYU he studied Mormonism and Christianity the way my son Clay studies Islam—from the outside looking in. He found many commonalities and loves Mormon people.
Hani can’t go home. It’s impossible for him to get into Gaza. His family is there—nine siblings, his parents and a large extended family—and in the past two years since he spent time in our home, I would check in with him and ask how his family was doing. His father taught at the U.N. school there, so he was always employed, and though there were lots of difficulties, they at least had the basics of food, clothing, shelter, and though two of his cousins were killed in violence, his immediate family was safe.
All that has changed. On January 6, Israeli forces shelled Hani’s father’s school. The school is a United Nations facility and had been turned into a temporary shelter by the UN Relief and Works Agency. Twenty-seven civilians were killed, mostly women and children. Many others lost limbs or were torn by shrapnel.
Hani’s family has left their home, and they and extended family members are living in a basement. One of Hani’s cousins, a dentist, was volunteering as an ambulance worker, rescuing wounded, when he was hit by a blast. His assistant died instantly. He died of his wounds the next day, New Year’s Day.
Another cousin’s house was bombed while he was sleeping and he and his children (five, I think Hani’s dad said) were killed instantly.
Hani managed to talk to his father by phone and posted a recording of his conversation on his blog. While he was on the phone with his father, a childhood friend was killed.
Now, I'm not advocating for either side in this conflict. It's far too complicated for that. What I know is that a friend's family is in danger. I know they're good people: kind, gentle, with high ideals and a love of god. What I am advocating is that you join me in the practical matter of praying for the safety of Hani's family.
As I said, we’ll leave the philosophizing for another day.
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