Thursday, April 23, 2015

Martyr's Blood: Finding the nerve to speak out

I’m in a mood.

You’ve been warned.

Someone hit a nerve and I’m going to have to go off on it a little bit.

First, though, let me tell you about my day yesterday. I said good-bye to my husband and teenagers as they left in the morning. I started the day with my two youngest – breakfast, dressed, school lessons. We talked about converting improper fractions into mixed numbers, keeping a steady tempo on the piano while practicing scales, and Marconi’s invention of the radio over a hundred years ago.

Later in the day I sat down to write this week’s section in our current study through the book of Hebrews. Oddly enough, it’s a section on hope. Ironic, but you’ll understand that more in a little bit. Also ironic, it’s an article most will never read for a myriad of reasons.

And oh yeah, I watched men saw the heads off other men. Yes, I watched it – only a few seconds but it was enough. Here’s the link; it’s a short clip in the midst of a Glenn Beck report. Heed the graphic warning he gives but watch it if you can.

It was a surreal moment as my kids played happily in the background, trees budded and flowers bloomed outside, and I sat in my comfortable chair with a cup of coffee. My pond outside my window rippled in the breeze while the ocean waves in the video washed the blood out to sea.

Shift Gears

The Grow Barefoot team has been praying about upcoming service projects. Our vision is to serve missionaries so they may better serve their people groups. However, that’s a broad vision; knowing how to carry it out is more complex. We’ve also always had a desire to motivate the American church to, um, well, get out of their pews and do something. Although for some, maybe it’s more accurate to say get yourself out of bed and into a pew. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I’ve learned to control my words most of the time but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today.

A GB team member sent me a follow-up link today. It was Matt Walsh’s article, “Here’s What You Can Do about the Persecution of Christians: Stop Being a Lazy Coward.” As always, Matt gets it and he’s not afraid to call it like it is. Read his article; it’s worth it. This was the scraping away of my last layer of protection to expose my raw nerve.

Matt gives three practical suggestions for how we can help the persecuted – pray, give, and get off your lazy backside and do something.

Matt writes, “We forget that prayer isn’t some kumbaya exercise in sending good vibes.”

It took a months-long study on prayer for me to finally start figuring this out. It took the discipline of starting each day alone on my knees for as long as it takes to get the job done, even knowing that sometimes tears will be involved. Sometimes yelling. Sometimes silence. Life-long church attendance didn’t teach me nor did my years in Christian school. Maybe someday I’ll get that study posted on here or available in a book but I remember three key points from it.
  • We need to pray all the time.
  • We need to pray for everyone.
  • We need to pray for everything.

We thank God for the day and the food in front of us but have we thanked Him for the testimony of those men whose blood still mingles in the Mediterranean Sea?

We pray for the sick and those in the hospital but have we prayed for the souls of those separated from God who risk an eternity in hell?

We pray so we find comfort from the stresses of life but have we realized our stresses would be someone else’s abundance of blessing?

Can we get out of bed a few minutes earlier to kneel in His presence? Can we stay up a little longer at night? Can we humble ourselves before Him rather than try to throw out a few words after our head hits the fluffy pillow and before the peaceful breathing of sleep falls upon us?

Read more on prayer:
Dear Lord: A prayer for today

Prayer Shouldn’t add Stress!
Life Sucks: What are we going to do about it?
The Hand of God

To quote Matt again, “We can also lend material support to organizations that are out there trying to help these people.”

Someone accused me of wanting to be Rambo after last week's article because I asked myself, “What would I have done if I had lived in Nazi Germany?” I laughed at the accusation. I was wondering if I would have been willing to open my home to protect the persecuted. Would I have helped move people to safe locations? I still don’t know the answer but I do know Rambo-type actions weren’t ones I considered. Likewise, Grow Barefoot doesn’t feel a call to enter Libya or Syria with guns blazing. That’s nowhere close to how we operate.

We do hope to partner with some groups on the ground if we can, though. This is a public forum so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Do Something
This is where Matt hit me in the heart as he proclaimed the message I’ve been saying for years. “We can honor their courage and sacrifice by not being such lazy, selfish, apathetic cowards.”

Our road turns onto a major highway. Monday through Friday mornings, it’s a hard turn to make as traffic backs up with many people headed to work. It’s a hard turn on Friday evenings and Sunday evenings as lake traffic backs up the other direction. However, come Sunday morning as we head to church, we make the turn out onto the highway without a moment’s hesitation. I can look several miles in both directions; not a single car will be in sight. Sometimes I comment to my husband, "I wonder how many of us would make it to church if we had to walk ten miles to get there" or some other snarky observation.

I remember rural Haiti where people walked miles to go to church in a hot, crowded room lit only by a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. I remember the songs the people sang loud and powerful despite the fact they were completely off tune.

We gripe because the service starts too early, the thermostat is set a little high, and the praise team didn’t play our favorite song. And by the way, why is 9:00 or 10:00 too early on a Sunday but we can make it to work other mornings by 8:00 or even earlier?

My husband remembers northern Africa where a local man travels to twenty different areas every week so others can listen to the Word of God on his player. He does so despite high fuel prices but even more despite the risk of persecution. He’s already been kicked out of his tribe.

And we gripe because we moved closer to our job and church is too far away now. We complain because the pastor went a few minutes too long or talked about the meaning of too many Greek words.

I remember the countless stories we've heard through the years from missionary friends around the world. Everyone had stories of those who traveled far to hear the Word or find Christian friendship, those who labored endlessly to copy God's Word by hand so they could keep a copy, or those who lost all they had for the chance to know Jesus.

The Irony of Hope
Do you remember the beginning of this rant when I mentioned I was working on a Bible study when that video came across my desk? A Bible study many will never read?

Why do very few care to study His Word? “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). God’s given us everything we need if we know Him. How do we know Him? Through His Word! Yet it’s too hard, or we’re too busy, or it doesn’t matter, or it’s boring.

And yet, I found myself writing about a message of hope found only in the Word of God when this horror presented itself before my eyes.

Ok, my rant is over

I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to help our brothers and sisters who are suffering around the world. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do when persecution hits our land, our towns, even our local streets. I do know that I’m going to keep praying, I’m going to give of my time and my resources as much as I can, and I’m going to continue trying to know Him and make Him known. I’m going to walk in faith that God is mighty to work through my meager efforts and that in the end, maybe He'll choose to make a difference through me.

Read more at:
ISIS and Christians: Why do we care?
Good and Evil: Who we are in a world of evil
What's the Point: Living Hope in a Violent World
Religious Extremism: Why it's a good thing

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