When an Offer of Prayer Just Isn’t Enough
It seems that in our culture we are all about building tidy communities—the bigger, the better. The measure of ministry seems to be how many pastors a congregation can support and how happy the congregation is—oh, and how big a parking lot! Understandable. People like to be in happy places and parking is helpful!
This is the state of Christianity in 21st century America. Oh, for the good old days of 17th and 18th century Christian America. Remember way back when?
Many of our ancestors arrived on our Atlantic shore hoping to escape religious persecution.
Some never made it past the chopping block and bonfires. Bombs were not yet the weapons of choice!
The Industrial Revolution taught us to organize for efficiency and to save money. We’ve done a whole lot of organizing since then.
We lived through the 19th century when Christianity organized into denominations that haven’t changed much since.
Today, we’ve forgotten our roots—the struggle, the sacrifices. Even when we reach out to the troubled we manage in organized, sanitized, safe ways.
Martyrdom is something we teach in order to avoid it, not to emulate its devotion. It will be harder and harder to find future saints.
There is nothing wrong with this except that it becomes so easy to overlook challenges facing Christianity squarely in the face—where witnessing involves risk and organization must rise through the murkiest of waters for a gasp of air.
We don’t have to go far to see this. Suburban churches talk about caring for the needy in the cities, but they visit our neighborhoods at their convenience—usually at holiday time. Christians rely on their many service agencies to do the hard work and many of them have become arms of the government, afraid to witness to Christ if it means losing a subsidy.
Our presence in the world is organized, too. Our denomination has divided the world into companion synods. Each of the 65 synods partners with the one small area of the world to which it is assigned. Neat and tidy. Efficient! We can travel back and forth and see where our support dollars are spent. That makes for plenty of feel-good photo opportunities.
But if you look at the companion synod system, you’ll see some huge gaps. Those are the areas where the photo ops aren’t important because we don’t want to risk any lives to get them!
The Middle Eastern countries are largely unserved.
And yet, the Middle Eastern countries dominate America’s news. This is likely to continue.
There ARE Christians in the Middle East, where gathering for worship is life-threatening. There is no place where a Christian presence could do more long-term good for the world’s sake.
Christianity has always spread by witnessing in difficult places at difficult times. The message of God’s love shines through when we are present among the suffering.
In September 2013 there were horrific bombings in a Christian church in Pakistan. And now, we have a second series of church bombings in Pakistan. Add the events together and count the casualties in the hundreds. The photos coming through are too gruesome to publish. We are publishing the photos of the mourners and the not those of scattered body parts.
The injuries are severe. The wounded fear going to Muslim hospitals. Children are orphaned. Families are decimated. They are truly desperate.
And where is the western Church?
Before I wrote this article, I googled “Pakistani Church Bombings Christian Response.” The only thing that came up were the resulting riots in Pakistan. More were killed. I changed the word “Response” to “Relief.” Still nothing.
I checked Lutheran World Relief’s Current Crises page. No Pakistan!
2×2 is generally not in the business of raising money. We don’t even have a donate button on our website!
If no one else can help, we will try.
If there is compassion in your heart for the Christian martyrs of Pakistan and you want to give, we will make sure that every penny is passed on to aid the survivors of the recent church attacks.
Again, 2×2 is not set up to raise money. We are more about raising awareness. We can’t look the other way. The need is dire.
Checks written to 2×2 Foundation and marked PAKISTAN will be directed to Pakistan in their entirety. We’ve been friends in ministry with Christians there for nearly three years. They sent these pictures.
Please use this address.