The last nine weeks have seen three terrorist attacks in the UK; two in central London and one targeting teenagers at a pop concert in Manchester.
The most recent attack came on Saturday 3 June, at around 10:00 in the evening. A van drove on to the pavement heading south on London Bridge, hitting a number of pedestrians before crashing by the Barrow Boy and Banker public house. Three men with knives got out and started to attack passers-by and people in the pubs and restaurants around the adjacent Borough Market. As a result, seven people have died, and 48 have been injured, at least 21 of whom remain critically ill.
CMF wishes to express our sorrow at the loss of life and the injuries sustained by so many, and condemns utterly the brutality of the attacks and those behind them. This latest act of terror strikes close to home for our staff here in London, as it happened only a few minutes’ walk from our offices.
At the same time, we would also like to praise the work of the emergency services in such an effective and swift response that surely saved many more lives. Some of the injured include police officers who sought to protect the public and colleagues. Many NHS staff voluntarily returned to work at several major London hospitals to deal with the incoming casualties. As with Manchester, the response of the local population was also overwhelmingly positive, with many acts of heroism, generosity, and kindness being shown. Such attacks show off the best as well as the worst in human behaviour.
CMF has many members working overseas, and we have connections with sister movements of Christian health professionals around the world. We have had many stories from them of dealing with similar acts of terror over the years. We are mindful that in the time between the Manchester and London Bridge attacks alone, there have been terrorist bombings in Kabul, an insurgency by Islamist terrorists in Marawi in the Philippines and a massacre of Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt. Such acts of terror continue in many other nations around the world, not just here in the UK or Europe.
In the face of this, we are reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples, warning that they would face ‘wars and rumours of wars…’. In the face of terrorism and insecurity, he counsels us not to be dismayed or alarmed. Instead, he encourages us to recognise that this is part of the agony of a world awaiting God’s salvation. We are to respond to times of hate, war and destruction with the gospel of repentance, forgiveness, love, reconciliation and peace. That is not to ignore the complexities of religion and politics that lie behind terrorism, but to recognise that ultimately we are in God’s hands.
Our prayers are with all those affected, not just in London on Saturday or Manchester last month, or Westminster in March, but also around the world. In particular we pray for those medical and nursing staff who sacrificially care for the injured and dying.