“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
― Martin Niemöller
As an avid lover of history, this quotation has always deeply resonated with me, as I contemplated the harsh broken nature of humanity. However, this morning, I was reminded that perhaps it was directed particularly at me.
This past week, we have seen the tyrannies of both the minorities and the majorities dictate what the influencers of societies think that God’s people should believe. From the blatantly selfish barbarianism of Donald Trump on Ebola, to the scathing article that Ann Coulter penned on those who would help others because of their faith, it seems that as Christians in the west, we are increasingly being moved to the periphery. As we all know, from the periphery to the margins to outside of the camp to inside the camp is a relatively short distance.
As I think about the war on Christian thought, I am reminded of the open hostility that God’s people face in the world. I’ve cried openly this week as I’ve viewed images of Christians in Iraq being taken away from their homes in flatbed trucks to a probable sure execution, and have lain awake at night contemplating the apparent fundamental injustices in the world. From Canadian Christians being imprisoned in China, to Egyptian pastors being incarcerated repeatedly on apparently fictitious charges, there has been much room to mourn the troubles of God’s people.
As a Syriac Orthodox Bishop said in my reading this morning- ” they are killing our people in the name of Allah and telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven.”
“Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American businessman living in California, told CNN in a televised interview. He warned that a “Christian genocide” is being conducted by ISIS. “Children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being [hanged],” he said. Arabo emphasized that ISIS terrorists “are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”
He related that “there’s actually a park in Mosul where they beheaded children and put their heads on a stick…. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.”
CNSNews.com noted that a “quick scan of YouTube shows the truth of what Arabo is saying — there are gruesome videos of heads on spikes, and many of live beheadings.” One video shows an individual, apparently a Christian, “forced to say the Shahada ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet,’” reported CNSNews, “and then beheaded anyway.” Warned the news site: “Don’t Google these things unless you have a strong stomach.
In the face of a worldview so different from my own, in the face of a faith so different and so opposed to my own, I almost don’t know what to do. Social media and western style political activism, for all of the emotion they invoke, certainly doesn’t seem to provide lasting and genuine hope for humanity. We run into trouble whenever we mistake temporary hope for eternal hope, and our words and fingers on keyboards are mistaken for action instead of the movement of our tongues as we plead with our Father in Heaven to bring peace and hope to His people.
#Hashtags will never accomplish what prayer can. Mistaking the power of social media for the power of prayer may increase awareness, but will never accomplish the results that we hope.
Today, I invite you to pray with me for God’s people:
– pray for the faithfulness of God’s people
-pray for God’s protection on believers who face open persecution and the very real prospect of dying for their faith in the next week
– pray with me for them as they suffer, die and live out Revelation 12:10-11
– pray that the Holy Spirit would strengthen them, that the promise of Romans 8:18 would be a real and present hope to them…that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.
– pray for the church in North America- that our voice would shift from talking to each other about our perceived slights but instead focus in a chorus of voices, believers united in time but distant in space, pleading to our Father in heaven for our brothers and sisters around the world.
Let’s replace clicktivism and compassion fatigue with committed intercessory prayer for God’s people and the unspeakable evils perpetrated against them.
Will you join me?