Dear HTC family of God,
I have been deeply disturbed by the terrible atrocities been committed against Christians in the Middle East and parts of North and Central Africa by Muslim extremist/fundamentalist groups. Christian children are being killed in front of their parents if they do not renounce Christ and accept Islam in countries like Iraq. Christian Children in Iraq lay down their little lives for Jesus – such is their commitment to Christ and the Christian faith that they hold so dear. The disturbing part about these atrocities and violence committed against Christians in the Middle East and Africa is threefold: Firstly it is so sad, that one does not hear any condemnation from Church leaders in South Africa, particularly our own denomination, of the atrocities being committed by Muslim fundamentalist groups. There is also no solidarity being expressed by the same Church, with the suffering Church and believers in the Middle East and Africa. I personally will continue to voice my condemnation of the atrocities and I will continue to declare my support of the suffering Church through prayer and public advocacy. Secondly, it is so sad, that many believers in this country, a country where we are free to worship our Lord Jesus and to meet with other believers for worship and teaching from the Word, treat the gift of our freedom to meet with other believers and indeed the Body of Christ for worship, with such disdain. Brothers and sisters in Christ, in a free country, choose at a whim not to attend worship services on a Sunday or participate in their cell groups/connect groups, for every excuse and rhyme and reason under the sun. In so doing, I believe, we make cheap the suffering of the believers in the Middle East, by treating with disdain something so special as our freedom to worship with the body of Christ – a freedom that believers in the Middle East pay for dearly with the sacrifice of their own lives.
Friends, I know this sounds harsh, but I am so challenged and there is no ‘nice’ way of putting this. We can, however, make a decision today, that will rectify our sad state. Decide today that you will pray every day for the suffering church in the Middle East and Africa – without fail. Decide today that you will voice your support for the suffering church and that you will condemn the atrocities being committed against believers in the Middle East and Africa through vocal means. Decide today that you will use every opportunity you have to worship with and fellowship with the Body of Christ, that you belong to, so as to express your gratitude for the freedom you have, the very freedom believers in the Middle East and Africa die for.
Come on everyone lets embrace this powerful challenge in God’s Word: ‘Continue to remember (pray for) those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you, yourselves, were suffering (Heb 13:3).
Yours for the suffering Church of Christ,