For the past few months I have had trouble sleeping. My mind ticks away thinking about what is going on in the world. Sometimes I sit in the darkness, wondering why I am able to watch my little boy sleep peacefully, wrapped in a warm blanket, while other mothers watch their children being decapitated by the Islamic State or killed by a Hamas missile. Why am I able to live in freedom while Meriam Ibrahim was forced to give birth chained to a wall in a Sudanese prison because of her faith? What did I do to deserve these luxuries while others are suffering unspeakable horrors? My heart is heavy. The truth is that I have done nothing, absolutely nothing to deserve the incredibly blessed life that I live. It is only by grace that I live in a wonderful country, in a happy home, with my beautiful little family. Feeling guilty because I am so blessed is foolish – I did not choose to be born in this great country, I did not choose to have a healthy, wonderful family, and I certainly did not get these things at the expense of someone else. I must remember to be thankful every day for the blessings I have and I cannot let the darkness in this world stop me from living life and enjoying every day that God grants me. We must keep living. We must thrive. We must love life, freedom, and family.
Having said this, with great blessings come great responsibilities. Growing up, we were taught the importance of giving back, of helping those in need. As Christians, we had a moral obligation to help others. We could not turn our back on those who needed us – whether it was our neighbour, a friend in the church, or communities far away who needed medical supplies or schools built. These things were easy to do – make a meal, donate some clothes, write a cheque. These things were all important, but they could all be done with relative ease. For many even spending a few thousand dollars to travel to some Third World country and throw up a few buildings was some kind of exotic adventure and life changing learning experience all in one. The Christian community has often been ready and willing to activate for social issues as well, or to provide relief after natural disasters. But there is one area where the Christian community, particularly in North America, has been consistently silent: the persecution of Christians around the world. For some time now, Christians across the globe, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, have been sought out, tortured, and killed for their faith (take note – once Jewish communities are wiped out the Christians are next on the list). With the exception of a few articles and some token statements (mainly from the Catholic Church) there has been no collective voice, no collective outrage, no political uprising in defense of Christians. I’m not talking about Tweets (although they do raise awareness), or changing your Facebook profile picture to the Arabic Nun (for Nazarene) – which is a symbolic gesture but does nothing to actually help. Where are the mass prayer vigils? Where are the rallies outside political offices? Where are the demands for the UN to condemn the global persecution of Christians? Where are the demands for our politicians to denounce the violence and call for action? Where is the pushback against Islamic terror? I guess it is easier for Christians in North America to pick up the Starbucks on Sunday morning, then stroll into church, sing a few hipster worship songs, listen to a quasi-motivational sermon, and then get on with their week. This is also a failure of leadership in the church - although I have heard from some clergy that they have tried to drum up awareness of these issues in their church and have been rebuffed, which is extremely disheartening. Church leaders may be wary of bringing political issues into Sunday morning, but how can the persecution of fellow believers not be brought to the attention of your congregation? I have my own theories about this but I will save them for now. Church leaders have a moral obligation to raise this issue and to give their congregation the tools they need to act.
Ten years from now, people will be heading to theatres to watch a movie depicting the last days of Christians in Mosul. It will be violent. It will be horrifying. Your children will ask you how the world (the world – a great guilt-free collective which we refer to while consciously excluding ourselves from) stood by and did nothing despite knowing exactly what was happening. You will have to explain to them why you did nothing.
We are blessed. We have everything we could possibly need and more. We have a responsibility to help those who desperately need our voice, our actions.
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