Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prayer for the persecuted

Whereas American Christians may occasionally face minor mockery or social discomfort around others hostile to their faith, we can--and should--be grateful we do not (yet) live in conditions like these, which our Lord told us to expect to be the norm:
CAIRO (AP) — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.
In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. 
It is so often overlooked today that the Middle East was not always dominated by Islam.  The early Christian church spread rapidly across the eastern part of what was once the Roman and Byzantine Empires.  Celebrated Christian thinkers like Augustine lived along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and in the Levant.

The violent, explosive rise of Islam was successful in stifling Christ's influence in this land... but still has not extinguished it, after more than a millennium. Those of us in the Body whose faith is not being tested in this manner need to pray continuously for the strength and encouragement of those who are.  We also need to be on our guard against those who seek power by stirring us up to violence, remembering that
...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)

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