“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
--Psalm 46:1

Occupied Territory:
A call to prayer

By Deborah Hollifield,
PPL Executive Director


Women and children are the people who are most vulnerable and at risk in the chaos of war. Men who go off to fight leave wives, mothers and children undefended at home. Women are frequently abused or raped by the soldiers of invading armies. During the evacuation of Afghanistan, the world watched as desperate mothers handed their infants off to American soldiers at the Kabul airport. Women in Ukraine give birth in subways and cellars while bombs burst overhead. The painful unfolding of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created 4.2m Ukrainian refugees, 90% of whom are women and children. Fifty percent of that number are children, many of whom are unaccompanied by adults.

The women of the Bible knew all too well the cruelties inflicted by invading armies during the sieges of Jerusalem and the perils of exile. Women and children were taken captive (1 Samuel 30:3; 18-19).

Whole families were executed while parents watched helplessly (2 Kings 25:7), and more than once the imprecatory prayers of God’s people contained groans for vengeance against those who had dashed their babies against the rocks (Ps. 137:9; Hos. 13:16; Lev. 20:2-5; Isaiah 13:16-18).

It has been this way since the beginning, and it seems like it will never end. The wartime travails that beset women and children are in some ways the travails of all of us, because we are all born into war time. Believers know that while the ultimate war has been won by Christ - our rescuer, redeemer and protector - we live behind enemy lines in occupied territory. Even as we wait for our certain deliverance, each day we must remain vigilant to negotiate unseen landmines and stealth attacks, “For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe! His craft and pow'r are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

As we face the uncertainties of the coming months, let us redouble our efforts to lift up all those who are defenseless before their attackers – whether in a war or in a womb - calling on the protection of the One who makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth, who breaks the bow and shatters the spears and burns the shields with fire (Ps. 46:9).

"The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge."
--Psalm 46:11