I’ve learnt something important from the horrors of the last few weeks. As I pray for the Christians in Mosul, it becomes clear to me that I need their prayers more than they need mine. I do my best to pray for them, and my heart is filled with a sort of wonder at the strength of their faith. Their faith overwhelms me, their sacrifice and love for Christ is beyond anything I have ever done, and there is something in me that says ‘be silent, look and learn’.
My prayer for them has now changed. I just look at these people, and I thank God for the humbling gift of allowing me to witness these new martyrs walking on their way to salvation before my very eyes. I think about the martyrs of the early centuries, how they were dragged to be tortured and killed before the eyes of the mob around them. These people are the new martyrs – we are the new mob. These people are the ones on whose heads Christ places crowns of martyrdom, we are the ones witnessing it.
I know things are always complicated in this world; I am aware there are endless nuances to these problems, and that perhaps very few of these people had lived a saintly life prior to this persecution. But that is their past – their present is Christ. These tired, dirty, hungry people have left everything for Him; I think of that and I’m ashamed to be praying for them.
We are just people in the crowd, watching their martyrdom. We are witnessing the birth of holiness; we are part of a miracle.
PS: Please forgive me for disappearing for a week; with everything happening in the world, with so much much violence and horror, nothing else seems worthy of much attention. Life just freezes somehow.
And there I was, thinking I wouldn’t mention it to you as you have so much on your plate!
I’m thinking about this constantly, with a burning sense of urgency but absolutely no idea what to do. I might buy one of those t-shirts with the ن character – it’s the Arabic letter N, they’re painting it on the doors of Christian homes to stand for ‘Nazarene’. Wearing a shirt obviously won’t do anything except in a symbolic way, and where I live there is a massive Arabic-speaking population who would (maybe?) understand what it meant. I’m realising it’s true that persecution can make people more committed – it happened to my Muslim friends after 9/11 and it’s happening to me now. I only hope and pray that I would have the same courage in that situation.
I don’t think there’s anything we can do, really. I’m not even sure we’re meant to do anything, except allow their story of salvation to change us on the inside. I look at these people with the clear feeling that I’m looking at ‘real life’, from a valley of death. Only that we are in the valley of death, and they are in the light of the real life. This is one of those un-natural events when the two worlds / two lives (in the world and in Christ) become perfectly visible for a short time, and everything is suddenly painfully clear: who we really are, and how we really are. There’s so much to learn from this…
We have to do something. We have to get our leaders, we can protest. I don’t know. I don’t have a good solution. We cannot just stand here and let these terrorists destroy us now. I pray. I cry. My family left the middle east for the safety and future of their children.I praise God I was given the chance to be born an American. Now we must help our families in dire need.
I don’t know what to do either. I can only say what I feel, and that is that no good ever comes from evil, no peace ever comes from war, and no love ever comes from hatred. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God’ – peacemakers often end up crucified, it’s true; but so did Christ. This is all I know, and I’m aware it is not a solution.
Honestly, I do not believe that there is a solution, because the source of these wars has very little to do with economic, ethnic, even religious problems. I believe the source of these wars is the coldness of our hearts and the lack of love in everyone – how is more war and further destruction going to make up for lack of love?
Again, I have no answers; what I’ve written above are not answers, but my own, personal attempts to make sense of all of this. I keep going back to the basics: I am Christian; my God is Love; and Love is always crucified in this world.
What you have written is very interesting,very different, unusual, taking the situation from a different angle, coming closer to what I feel God is asking us,I clearly see that we need the prayers. The souls who are persecuted at this very present time show us are weakness, I thank them that they have sacrificed so much to make changes,yes it is us who need the prayers,they who are persecuted whatever faith whatever place whoever wherever, a small scale or a lager scale,the Jews and Gypsies died in the Gas chambers,they showed us love.God is pleading with us all of whatever faith, we are all his children,he is pleading with us to love one another we are all part of the one body.Rosalie Jane Stuart.
That is so true, dear Rosalie. Wherever there is suffering, there God is present to take up His Cross again; and whoever has love in one’s heart, has Christ in his / her heart, and (partly, at least) takes up that Cross with Christ. This is especially true of those who force themselves to love their enemies. These people fight their own fallen humanity and its ‘natural’ call to hate and revenge; these are the ones Christ has chosen from the world, and whose hearts obey a different nature – the nature of the real, holy human beings. Many thanks for your beautiful comment.
In 2000 I started keeping the memories of the Al Kosheh martyrs in Egypt, particularly little Maysoun Fahmy who was walking home with her brother, a deacon, when some Muslims told him to convert or die. He chose to die and the little girl died with him. And this year a 25 year old Christian woman delivering medicine to an ill friend was pulled from her car, stabbed and mutilated for having a cross in her rear window, her name is Mary George. When we move we will have a Mary Garden (mediaeval custom of filling a garden with plants dedicated to the Theotokos) and put their photographs in it. Their situation is no different from 2000 years ago. They are the Agneses and Lucys of today.
We should create some sort of Christian ‘praying army’ – people from everywhere in the world, able and willing to dedicate ten minutes of their time every day to pray for peace and the spiritual healing of the world. If we could find a few people from all over the globe, we could circle the Earth with prayer. When some of us work or rest, the others could pray; and so on, taking turns and blessing every second of our lives. We could do so many wonderful things if we only tried, if we only let go of our own selfishness and saw the greater good… May God bless all of us.
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