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Posts Tagged ‘persecuted Church’

This past week Sunni militants have taken over the 2nd largest city in Iraq.  The following quote is from a recent letter from Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Najeeb who lives in Mosul.  The full article is in First Things and can be found with this link.  As he asks:  pray for them.  

Bad news. I write you in a situation of violence in Mosul that is very critical and even apocalyptic. Most of the inhabitants of the city have already abandoned their houses and fled into the villages and are sleeping in the open without anything to eat or drink. Many thousands of armed men from the Islamic Groups of Da’ash have attacked the city of Mosul for the last two days. They have assassinated adults and children. The bodies have been left in the streets and in the houses by the hundreds, without pity. The regular forces and the army have also fled the city, along with the governor. In the mosques, they cry “Allah Akbar, long live the Islamic State.” Qaraqosh is overflowing with refugees of all kinds, without food or lodging. The check points and the Kurdish forces are blocking innumerable refugees from entering Kurdistan. What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic. The priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels this morning. . . . and now they have come here and entered Qaraqosh five minutes ago, and we are now surrounded and threatened with death. . . . pray for us. I’m sorry that I can’t continue . . . They are not far from our convent. . . . Don’t reply. . . .

“We are not protected by anyone, just the prayers . . . we need your prayers . . . I believe in the power of prayers . . . they can change the mind of persons . . . I ask in the name of all Christians in Iraq . . . to pray for us.”

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From The Week:

The world’s most ancient Christian communities are being destroyed — and no one cares:

Christians in the Middle East have been the victims of pogroms and persecution. Where’s the outrage in the West?

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Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.-Hebrews 13: 3

Click here for a CNN report:

Horrible’: Christian churches across Egypt stormed, torched

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On this date the body of Pastor Kaj Munk was found in a ditch in his native homeland, Denmark.  He had been killed by the Gestapo.   He was shot through the head. His crime?  Preaching the Gospel in the teeth of the Nazis.  When someone thinks they are “preaching to power”, especially by passing some resolution at some church assembly/convention which will be disregarded like yesterday’s leftovers by the powers that be, and I think of true martyrs like Pr. Munk, then I must pay attention. He like John the Baptizer preached truly to the powers and principalities and suffered the Cross.  Here is a quote from Pr. Munk’s New Year’s Sermon which is quite the  antidote to slappy-happy, sentimental Christianity in our day. (For another quote from Pr. Munk see this post here)   Like the Roman Catholic G. K. Chesterton said that every age has it’s saint…that is those who are opposite, as opposite as salt.  We need His  cure of our illness of  spiritual self-indulgence.

Do not trust too much in the preachers.  As a rule they are poorly paid.  They are brought up as humanists.  They have forgotten–or never learned–what Christianity is. They have imbibed lo-o-ove with the bottle milk in the cradle. In a world of men they too often plead the cause of the effeminate.  They “abstain from politics”.   They preach peace at any price for the uplift of the devil, who rejoices to see evil develop in peace. The Scriptures do not say: When your neighbor is smitten on one cheek it is your duty to hold him so that he may be smitten on the other cheek also. Do not trust the preachers until they wake up and remember that they are servants of the whole Gospel, and of the Prince of Peace who came not to bring peace but a sword; of Him who forgave Peter and permitted Judas to hang himself; of Him who was meek and humble of heart and yet drove the sacrilegists from the temple courts.

And do not trust the majority, which likes to take things easy and therefore is easy to please. . . . Do not trust the great neglected masses. I believe that the heart of the nation is strong, but it has become encased in fat. . . .

This is what our old nation needs; a rejuvenating power, God’s rejuvenating strength, that a new people may come forth, which is yet the old, worthy sons of the fathers. The gospel will have to teach the Danish nation to think as a great people; to choose honor rather than profit, freedom rather than a well paid guardianship; to believe in the victory of the spirit of sacrifice; to believe that life comes out of death, and that the future comes out of giving oneself;—in short, faith in Christ. What would it profit a people if it gained all the advantages of the world, but lost its soul?

The cross in our flag—it is long since we realized that it stands for something, and we have forgotten that now. And yet it is the cross that characterizes the flags of the North.—We have come to church —the few of us who go to church, and we have heard about the cross, about Christ’s example of suffering, and Christ’s words about self-denial and struggle. We have thought that this was all to be taken in a spiritual sense, and that it did not pertain to our time. We thought we were Christians when we sat in church and sang Amen. But No, No! We are Christians only when we go out into the world and say No to the devil, renounce all his works and all his ways, and say Yes to the Holy Spirit.

Lead us, thou cross in our flag, lead us into that Nordic struggle where shackled Norway and bleeding Finland fight against an idea which is directly opposed to all our ideas. Lead old Denmark forth to its new spirit. Not by the grace of others, or by their promises, shall Danneborg again become a free banner. For freedom only God can give; and he gives it only to those who accept its responsibilities. Lead us, cross in our flag, forward toward unity with other flags of the cross. With honor and liberty regained, the old Denmark in the young North-that vision looms before us this New year’s Day.  We who have vision will give ourselves to its realization.  We promise we will. May God he hear our vow and add His Amen!” (as quoted by Rev. Philip Pfaitteicher in Festivals and Commemorations)

From The Apocalypse, now called The Book of Revelation, chapter 7:

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 15“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
   and serve him day and night in his temple;
   and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
   nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
   and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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The Gospel Reading in the Daily Lectionary for the Friday After Pentecost (ELCA): St. Matthew 10:24-33

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el’zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.’!’

A Reflection by Fulton J. Sheen (1895 –1979)

Deny not your Master even under opposition. “But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father Who is in heaven.” So long as we are hated, we are worth troubling about. The church that would give only a moral tone to secular movements can die of its own inanition. If the pagan forces of the world left us untouched, if they did not calumniate us, seek to destroy us, set up rival claim.

The Church can still make the evil forces of the world angry. It can still inspire persecution. Therefore Christ is with us. The exhilaration of being counted a foe of evil is the joy of honor. Our heart is warmed by the tribute of enmity from those areas of life, where to be counted friends, or not to be counted at all, would be to stand condemned as salt without savour, and as feeble candles whose light had gone out.ants to the soul, it would mean that we would have lost our influence, that our touch was gone, our stars did no longer shine. Do men shake fists over the tomb of Napoleon? Do armies storm and rage against the grave of Mohammed? Do forces assault the tomb of Lenin? These men are dead. But they do storm the citadel of Christ; they do rage against His Spouse; they do kill the members of His Body; they do try to stifle the young hearts that would breathe His name in school. Therefore Christ must be alive today in His Body which is the Church.   From Characters of the Passion by Bp. Sheen

Closing Prayer:

O God, Who hast taught the hearts of believers by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, and gathered together a Christian Church by Him, grant us also that Thy good Spirit cleanse our hearts, lead us into all truth, sanctify us, give us zealous minds, and comfort us in every time of need, that Thy Church may realize the promise of Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to conquer over all the gates of hell. Amen.

J. K. Wilhelm Loehe, Lutheran Pastor and Missionary, (1808-1872)

About Bp. Sheen:  Here is a trivia type question and answer:  Who was the first televangelist?  Answer:  Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Maybe there were others ‘way back then’ but Bp. Sheen was quite popular during the fifties on TV.   He said and wrote some pretty good things…even though he was not a Lutheran.  The quotation above is from  the excellent 4 volume series For All the Saints:  A Prayer Book for and by the Church which is basically a Lutheran breviary or daily prayer book, as is Treasury of Daily Prayer from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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