A few years ago I read Phillip Jenkins book about the lost history of the church in the Middle East. Fascinating account. Today, with more Christians and others being threatened in the ancient city of Mosul, I thought I would link an article of Jenkins for those who might want to learn more. And do pray for these communities.
Have you seen the videos? The Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, has caught on unlike anything I have every seen. It matches fun, fundraising and awareness into a perfect summer sensation.
In all honesty, I have not yet taken the challenge myself. My stewardship and charity goes to many places -- the work of God in and through Christ Church Exeter being the main recipient. My wife and I support various institutions, give to Episcopal Relief and Development to support development work and emergency aid, support the work of the church in Cuba, assist a clergy family in Colombia, and some friends along the way who need a helping hand.
What I hope about this summer phenomenon is that it calls us to do something that is rarely videotaped and posted online for our friends to see. Compassion. May we think and act with compassion towards a world that is looking more ominous and out of control than ever. The news this past summer has been relentless and dire: the war in Gaza, the shooting down of the airliner over Ukraine and the loss of some many innocent lives, children fleeing violence crossing our southern border from Central America, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that is spreading, and Iraq coming unglued and a demonic terrorist group ravaging northern Iraq oppressing Christians and other religious minorities. It's all bad. Really bad. The world is on fire and is in need of a cold bucket of ice water to put out the flames.
How can we as individuals make a difference? Isn't that always the question? The path forward is found in the many ways that Jesus pointed to in how he promised to be present in the world. The least, the vulnerable, the widow, the child, are forever present and near to us. We begin with those who are near and hope to touch those who are far away. Invite a friend to lunch. Engage a stranger in line at the store. Buy a child a backpack for school. Rescue a dog or cat in need of a home. And/or donate to a worthy cause.
So if you are anything like me -- on the verge of calamity/bad global news overload and leaning in to turn off the television -- say a prayer before you do. Ask God to do what God always promises to do -- to listen to God's people and free them from oppression, fear, violence and disease. Now and in God's time.