What do you see when you look at the photo above? I hope you see a contrast between Western Christians and Eastern Christians.
On Sunday April 19, 2015, ISIS released a video showing the mass execution of 30 Ethiopian Christians.
Half were beheaded
the others were shot execution style
It was on Sunday morning at 6am, as my alarm woke me up so that I could get ready for church since I was singing with the worship team, that my insomniac husband told me the news. I quickly jumped onto Facebook to see if there was news about this. I jumped on Twitter. Yes indeed, it was true.
Perhaps it was too early in the morning for Pastors and churches in the U.S. (at least in California), to be aware of this tragedy. As first service began, I could not be as energetic and smiley on stage like usual. I just wanted to tell everyone what happened and join together as one body, mourning with family we have never met, who have lost their loved ones.
I just kept thinking...."In the OT, people would tear their clothes, put on a sackcloth, and cry out to God."
While we sing praises and sermons are preached suggesting a false hope that everything will be OK because God will not "allow more than we are able to bear," the truth is that suffering IS part of God's will in our lives. God does allow tragedies. His ways are not our ways. Yes, things will work out for our good according to Romans 8:28, but WHAT IS GOOD? What does GOD see as the definition of "good?" His "good" is not the same as what we would consider "good." To us, "GOOD" is equivalent to good health, wealth, happiness; basically for things to go our way.
I am curious as to how many congregations in the U.S. discussed the martydom of these Ethiopians. Or how about the 14 year old boy who was set on fire in Pakistan for his faith this past week?
If the Bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn, why aren't we mourning as a whole? Why aren't churches setting a side a service specifically to discuss the harsh realities of persecution, with time of prayer and learning about what we as a body can do to help our brothers and sisters?
We are all so consumed with our own agendas and "visions." I'm not saying those things can't be done or that they should be sacrificed, but sticking to our plans sometimes forces us to sacrifice what God instructs us to do. Like Mary & Martha.
Sometimes we just have to pause for a moment and seek His face and intercede for others. Yes, we have our own problems. But we are ONE BODY. When will the West wake up? When will the West finally realize the foolishness of division and unite for the common cause of Christ?
We cannot stop persecution from happening, Jesus said IT WOULD HAPPEN. But we can help those in the midst of war. We have ministries there. People need resources. If you and I can't physically go and care for refugees or smuggle Bibles and food, then we must financially support those who do go.
If you can't afford it, I'm sure you could do fundraisers at church or on your own. I mean, have a garage/yard sale! As much as I hate to admit that money is needed, it is the truth.
But just as important is the awareness that is needed. What mighty things can be done when the body of Christ decides to do in unity. But it seems like many don't take it seriously, don't care, or are too busy with other ministries.
Can we at the very least, remember them in prayer, on a weekly basis, Pastors???
For those who are interested in learning more about how you can help, the following organizations are legit. They advocate, provide aid, and provide education:
Voice of the Martyrs