conflict

Today’s Humanitarian Crisis

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The worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades is happening as we speak, yet amazingly it’s not being talked about. The United Nations warns that the world is facing its worst crisis since the end of World War II, with more than 20 million people on the brink of starvation and famine in four countries.

On Friday the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, called for an urgent mobilisation of funds to “avert a catastrophe” in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“Otherwise, many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost and political gains that have been hardwon over the last few years will be reversed,” O’Brien said in his warning to the UN Security Council.

“Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost.”

“We stand at a critical point in our history,” he said. “Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”

“All four countries have one thing in common. Conflict,” he said. “This means that we, you, have the possibility to prevent and end further misery and suffering… It is all preventable. It is possible to avert this crisis, to avert these famines — to avert these looming human catastrophes.”

He called war-wracked Yemen “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” with two-thirds of the population, or 18.8 million people in need of assistance and more than seven million with no regular access to food.

With a situation as horrific as this it is hard to know how to respond – which makes this a great time for prayer! We encourage you to learn more about the crisis in these four nations in order to make your prayers informed.

For more about this crisis please click here.

Fire, Forgiveness and Family 

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Then Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me. Seven?”Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”

We sat around a beautiful pile of pikelets, sliced mango and bananas with our friends and their two wee kids. A relaxing Sunday afternoon after a stressful week. Our neighbour Lucy was in hospital, very ill, and needed a lot of practical support. Finally, she was recovering. I took another pikelet, glanced out the window, then did a double take. Smoke. Billowing out of Lucy’s door. We sprinted over and found her bed ablaze with thick choking black fumes from the mattress filling the room. With the help our friends, a neighbour, our small fire extinguisher and many jerrycans of water we managed to put it out. Lucy’s return from hospital was not as joyful as we hoped.

The fire did not remain a mystery for long. The culprit was a small boy called Aken, only 11 years old. He’d managed to steal Lucy’s key. His mother had a long-standing family feud with Lucy, now apparently fuelled by jealousy at Lucy’s fortune in finding a new home moving in with us. With Lucy still in hospital, we were the ones to take our wee arsonist into the police. The police shrugged it off saying he was young, and sent him home with zero follow up. His mother sent him to stay with relatives in the village, but he was chased away after stealing and selling their chickens.

Two weeks later we woke to find our hut roof on fire. I will never forget the fierce red glow and crackle of the grass thatch as I rushed outside. Neighbours came sprinting to our rescue from all directions with jerry-cans and basins, throwing water on the fire and dragging our furniture and things outside. Unbelievably, Lacor hospital fire truck showed up and doused our hut in water inside and out, extinguishing every last ember. It was over. But my mind was ticking over. Physically we’d escaped extraordinarily well: no-one harmed, property soggy but not burnt, roof damaged, but still liveable. But I knew we weren’t going to get much sleep that night. Or the next night. Aken, of course, had fled and was no where to be found.

The next month gave us the tiniest taste of the worried nights everyone here in Northern Uganda suffered for two decades of civil war. Except we feared a poor, downtrodden child with a box of matches, not grenade wielding rebels and government soldiers with AK47s. The emotional aftermath wasn’t all negative. I had a heightened awareness that community was our security, and a grateful warmth to our immediate neighbours who came running. I felt pleasantly detached from material ‘stuff’, and tried to pass on anything useful we weren’t utilising to local friends. But the question of what to do about Aken still loomed.

After several weeks, Aken was finally found, charged with arson and taken to the children’s remand home till the court hearing. I visited Aken again before we headed off to collect family at the airport. The remand home is depressing, but not horrible. There’s no razor wire or harsh discipline, just kids sitting around looking bored and dejected. Determined to understand him a bit better, I’d brought some string for him to make a timeline of his life, pebbles to represent the bad things that had happened, and flowers to represent good times he remembered. The guard squinted and said it looked like witchcraft. “Just talking, no flowers” he warned me. I handed Aken a bag of snacks and wondered nervously where to begin. So far I know that his dad died when he was small. He likes school, but has only finished 2 years of primary. His older brothers steal things. His mum had a mental break down two years ago and attempted suicide. He is convinced she doesn’t want him. We decided to drop the charges and find a way to get him to school.

While I’ve yet to get a smile out of Aken on my visits to the remand home, he certainly associates me with food. He is coming home in a week. He can join our after-school reading classes for neighbourhood kids. Then, he will go to boarding school, his first year paid for by our own family back home. If you are the praying type, our big request is that you pray with us that his life is turned around, and that the brokenness can be healed.

So, all in all it hasn’t been an easy return to Uganda. We’ve also had a bad run of illness: between us 8 skin infections, 3 bouts of malaria (all Nick) and numerous tummy bugs. And yet when I look back on the last 5 months there is so much to be thankful to God for. We have some great new relationships with young neighbours. Lucy recovered when we thought she might not make it. We’ve grown enough basil to make a jar of peanut-pesto every week. My community organising group has launched 3 new water-access campaigns and strong leaders are emerging. Next week we are running a preaching-training at our church. Nick’s health centres are flourishing better than he ever could have imagined last year. And right now, we’re sleeping well at night again.

All this might seem extreme, but is part of the deal here; stuff happens. We’re not singled out, or different from other people. This chain of events is perhaps an induction to the everyday struggles of many of our friends. Pray for complete forgiveness from all ends, pray for Aken and his future, pray for redemption.

Whose Kingdom?

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By Katie Wivell

What is it that stops me?

What is it that keeps my eyes fixed on my feet when you walk past?

What is it that makes it so hard for me to stretch out my arms and welcome you?

Maybe it’s the ugly truth that I profess to be part of a Kingdom of grace, and unconditional love, and authentic community – and yet, I’ve still managed to carve out my own space.

My own space where I’m building a different kind of kingdom… Katie’s Kingdom.

In my kingdom, things roll smoothly for me. And I work hard to keep it that way, I please the right people and I make sure I belong. I make sure I have enough; love, respect, clothes, money, social hangs, Facebook likes, success stories… Security, comfort, and belonging. These are my treasured possessions.

And you, with your differences and difficulties, you embody the insecurity that I flee from daily.

Why should I be the one to give up my seat and make a scene, and walk over to the one who is different! I worked hard to get here! And I work hard daily, to keep everything in the right place.

So I’m sorry. This kingdom can’t accommodate for your complicated need set today. If I reach out to you, I’m afraid I’ll lose my balance. And I’ll fall. And this kingdom of comfort will slip from my hands. And I’ll be the one on the outside. Without a seat to sit in.

And that, that is the thing I fear the most.

 

For me, these are the worries that have stopped me from helping people far too many times in the past. And they are the same kind of worries I see popping up everywhere at the moment. We look at refugees, and their insecurity and need and state of loss, and are reluctant to offer them substantial support. At the root of our reasons to not help those in need is FEAR.

Fear of what the cost might be to us.

I think for many of us, we are reluctant to take a stand on this refugee issue because we are too busy asking the question: “If I do this, what will happen to me?”

If I welcome refugees into my country, my city, my community, what will happen to me?

Not enough of us are asking the question, “If I don’t to this, if we don’t do this, what will happen for them?”

And maybe we brush this question off by saying, well, someone else will help them, someone else will pick up the pieces. The countries closer to Syria will take them, and will be better equipped. We are just little New Zealand after all. But we weren’t just little New Zealand when we hosted the Rugby world cup, or signed the TPPA agreement…

As Christians, I think at a time like this we have an opportunity to be the voice of hope. And I would go as far as to call it a responsibility. Comfortable Christians have been saying, “somebody else will do it” about too many issues for too long. As followers of Jesus, who spent his entire life teaching us how to love sacrificially and restore what is broken, we are called to be those ‘somebody elses’ who do something about it.

This is a hard pill to swallow, especially because we live our day to day lives in an environment where nobody expects this kind of extravagant love and care from us. In our society, and sadly even in some of our churches, we are taught to pursue success. If we have a good career, stability, and still manage to be kind to others and turn up at church, then we are doing pretty well.

For a long time I was largely blind to the problem with this attitude in my own life.

But then I started to fall in love with Jesus. And study him more. And soak up his ways and his purposes more. And I realised if I was really a follower of Jesus, I needed to change my priorities, my goals, and broaden my social circles, to not just people like me, but to everyone, especially those who are strangers, or in need. And that is hard!

And this situation is HARD! And scary! And risky! I’m not saying that it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean we can step over the issue and walk away.

Sometimes I catch myself trying to side step the possible things I could do to show God’s love to these people who desperately need it. And when I do, or when I see other Christians in our nation doing a similar thing, I remember when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. If we’ve spent any time reading our Bibles or sitting in church, it’s a story we’ll be well familiar with. I remember this man who has been robbed and beaten lying in a desert road, close to death. And I see the priest approach him. Jesus sets up this scene so that we expect the priest to intervene and help, as any follower of a God of love would… But the priest looks at the man lying in the dust, weighs up his own desires and schedules, then steps over him and carries on his way.

When I deny any responsibility to help the refugees that want to start lives of freedom and safety in my community, I am like that priest. When we, as the body of Christ in New Zealand, deny or fail to rise to any responsibility to help the refugees that want to start lives of freedom and safety in our communities, we are like that priest.

I’m not an expert on the refugee crisis. I don’t claim to be. I don’t work with them every day. There are questions I have about risks of taking on large numbers of refugees, and there are worries I’d have about trying to support a family when I know nothing about the reality of the suffering they’ve faced. But I can’t look at Jesus, and claim to follow him, and do nothing.

So my hope is that we would look at this issue with new eyes.

That we would start to be brave, and remember the kind of God that we follow.

That we would stop only asking the question, “but what will happen to me?”

That we would see refugees not as a threat to our comfort but as men and women and boys and girls who are just as loved and treasured by God as we are.

And we would start asking, “God, we are scared, and at time overwhelmed, but help us, what can we do for these your children?”

 

Katie is a youth worker in Campbell Bay, and also studying for her Social Work Degree in Auckland.

 

THE MUSE

What are the fears that keep you from action? How have you responded to the refugee crisis?

 

THE MOVE

What can you do this week to counter your fears?

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

Is Islam Inherently Violent?

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Since it’s Ramadan, it’s worth taking the time to think about our perceptions of Islam. When talking about other religions, it’s important that we Christians get into the habit of ‘truth-telling.’ Is it fair that we compare the best of Christianity with the worst of other religions? The following are some reflections by Grey Boyd about Islam. Re-blogged from here.

An increasing number of people, especially in conservative Christian circles, are claiming that Islam is an inherently violent religion. They point to all the violence in the history of Islam and all of the violence being carried out by Muslims today as proof of this. I believe this claim is as misguided as it is dangerous.

Two considerations demonstrate the erroneous and prejudicial nature of this claim. First, the percentage of Muslims engaging in violence today is a minute fraction of the total Muslim population, which is now around 1.6 billion (23% of the world’s population). If you add together even the highest estimates of participants in all the Islamic extremist groups (e.g., ISIS, Al Queda, the Taliban, Boko Haram), the total is a fraction of 1% of this population. Claiming Islam is inherently violent on the basis of the behavior of a tiny minority of professing Muslims is like claiming Christianity is inherently racist because groups like the Aryan Nation and Ku Klux Klan profess to be Christian.

Second, if the violence of professing Muslims proves Islam is inherently violent, then consistency demands that we conclude that the Christian religion also is inherently violent, for up until three and half centuries ago, professing Christians routinely engaged in violence that was every bit as barbaric as what Islam extremists are doing today. Beyond the horrific Crusades and Inquisition, there was a century and a half (1524-1648) of almost uninterrupted Christian-on-Christian violence that wiped out a significant percentage of the population of large sections of Europe.

It wasn’t radical extremist groups that claimed to be Christian that carried out this violence. All the violence of this period and throughout Church history was sanctioned by all the major ecclesial denominations and carried out by mainstream professing Christians. To their credit, the only Christians that abstained from this bloodletting were Anabaptists, and they were almost completely exterminated by the other groups. So if, in spite of all this violence, Christians today do not want to accept that the Christian religion is inherently violent, then Christians must stop claiming that the violence of professing Muslims implies that Islam is inherently violent.

Now, some will object that religiously motivated violence on the part of Christians is a thing of the past, proving that the Christian religion is not inherently violent.   Thankfully, it is for the most part true that we no longer see Christian organizations carrying out violence. But this is not because Christians suddenly matured three hundred years ago and realized their violence was inconsistent with their religious convictions. Christians only stopped killing their religious and political adversaries because secular authorities decided this relentless warfare was politically and economically disadvantageous, so they agreed to make religious violence illegal (the “Peace of Westphalia,” 1648).

It was at this time that the West thankfully began to finally embrace the idea of a neutral secular state that had been proposed by Thomas Hobbs (1588-1679) and others. While some have tried to argue that the concept of a neutral state protecting the freedom and rights of people of different faiths was birthed out of Christianity, it was actually birthed out of a secular reaction to a century and a half of “Christian” states that were violently trampling on this freedom and these rights. (A good book on this is The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West, by Mark Lilla).

So you see, the reason why a minority of Muslims continue to engage in religiously motivated violence while Christians do not is not because Islam is inherently violent while Christianity is not. It’s rather because Islamic countries have not, on the whole, embraced the concept of a secular neutral state, outlawing religious violence. In fact, while the secular concept of tolerance has now become deeply ingrained in westerners, I am convinced that, if there were no laws preventing religiously motivated violence, masses of western Christians would still be carrying it out, and I, for one, would likely have years ago gone the way of Michael Servetus!

To close, while I’ve argued that Islam is no more inherently violent than the Christian religion, one could easily turn the tables and argue that both religions, and even all religions, are to some degree inclined toward violence. For as long as people place their ultimate allegiance to a belief above loving other people at all costs, they will feel justified, whenever they deem it necessary, to kill people in the name of their belief.

The only ultimate allegiance that cannot ever lead to violence is the allegiance to the one who commanded his disciples to sacrificially love and do good to all people, including life-threatening enemies (Mt 5:38-47; Lk 6:27-36). Those who share this ultimate allegiance do not adhere to a religion; they rather manifest the Father’s kingdom. And they are grateful for secular authorities that protect them from those who embrace religion, whether it be the religion of Islam or of Christianity.

 

Thanks ReKnew for letting us share this. Re-blogged from here.

Kenya Attack

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The following was posted on Stuff.co.nz. Interestingly, their article reported the perspectives of the Christian victims of the massacre. The title they chose for the article was “At Kenya college, Christian students foretold massacre.”

As Stanley Muli hid in a wardrobe from attacking Somali militants last week, he wondered why the army was taking so long to arrive.

For two hours after the attack at 5.30am Thursday, no one came to the rescue. Muli, listening to al-Shabab fighters searching rooms and killing terrified Garissa University College students, thought bitterly about how quickly the army had arrived in November to brutally put down a student protest over the lack of university security.

“I was just praying to God that the (army) would come,” the 22-year-old said on Sunday. “I was just thinking how come they have taken so long, because the barracks are near.”

n a town long known for violent extremist attacks, the campus of mainly Christian students was an obvious target in a predominantly Muslim area within striking distance of Somalia, 145 kilometres away. Students said they felt unsafe and exposed-put in harm’s way by the government itself.

“We were fearing that if these people (a-Shaban) came, they could kill many, many Christians,” said Muli, who was shot in the thigh but survived in his hiding place. He said the government “failed to protect us. We are angry, because we lost some of our best friends. … They took no care.”

Garissa University College was inaugurated in 2011. It was the first university in northeastern Kenya, but its first full-year intake was in 2013. Students said almost no one wanted to be there because of Garissa’s security problem, but they were declined spots on the mother campus, Moi University in Eldoret. Most wanted to transfer, but found it impossible.

To continue reading click here.

In You Alone I’m Free

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In a recent newsletter from Rosie’s Diocese in Egypt, Bishop Mouneer shared a poem:

I was moved by the words below, written by Rev. John Young, a Scottish pastor. He wrote them in a song inspired by the last words of one of the Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya last month. Before one of the young men was killed, he said, ya Rabbi Yesua, “oh, my Lord Jesus.”

They can break my body They can break my pride They can cut my head off And post it up online But when the morning breaks It’s Jesus I will see O my Lord Jesus In you alone I’m free

They’re asking me to say My faith is just a lie They tell me ‘turn away And I won’t have to die’ But how can I abandon The one who wouldn’t abandon me O my Lord Jesus In you alone I’m free

It is difficult to imagine such brutal persecution facing Christians in the twenty-first century. However, it is not surprising. Before going to the cross, Christ warned his disciples in John 16: “they will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” This is exactly what happened in Libya.

 

Please pray for the situation throughout the Middle East, particularly in the region of Egypt/Libya.

Deadly blast in Lahore

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Bombers have attacked two churches in Lahore, Pakistan, resulting in the loss of at least 14 lives and injury to more than 70 others. The policemen guarding the two churches and a child are among the dead. The two churches, Christ Church (Church of Pakistan) and St John’s (Catholic) are close together in the Youhanabad district of the city. The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamatul Ahrar immediately claimed responsibility for both attacks which were timed to coincide with Sunday services. Following the attack an angry mob captured two suspects from the local community and beat them to death. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the Youhanabad bomb blasts in the strongest terms and directed the provincial governments to ensure the security of the public and to provide the best medical treatment to the injured.

 

Tragedy in Heliopolis

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Pictured: Members and friends of the St. Michael’s Church congregation gather to pray. Article re-posted from The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

One child is dead and eight women are hospitalized following the Monday explosion of three gas bottles, sparking a fire in the Kilo 4.5 neighborhood of Nasr City in Cairo. The group of ladies were preparing a meal for a meeting at the St. Gabriel Center, a Sudanese social center and ministry of St. Michael’s Anglican Churchin Heliopolis.

Youssef Attiya, a nine-month-old infant, succumbed to smoke inhalation and died this morning. His mother Mona Ismail remains in critical condition in the Galaa Hospital of Nasr City.

Ikhlas Ali is also in critical condition, suffering burns over 90 percent of her body. She is two months pregnant and the wife of Rev. Hassan Jemes, associate pastor of St. Michael’s in charge of the Sudanese congregation. Hospital staff at the Nile Emergency Center in Nasr City said she has little chance to survive, according to Rev. Jos Strengholt, dean of East Cairo Anglican churches and priest-in-charge at St. Michael’s.

Another child, nine-year-old Sonita Musa, suffered a bad head wound but was discharged this morning. Her mother Aziza Ibrahim remains hospitalized but is in stable condition. According to Shawgi Kori, director of St. Gabriel’s Center, Ibrahim helped around eight other women and children escape the fire, pushing several through a window, before being injured herself.

The meal was to be in commemoration of a child relative of one of the church members who recently died in Sudan. The explosion blasted pots of boiling oil to the ceiling, which then sprayed onto several women. The church community is now organizing rounds of visitation to care for the injured and the needs of their families.

The St. Gabriel’s Center serves the large Sudanese refugee population of Nasr City without discrimination. It runs a clinic, a vocational training program, English lessons, and provides a social outlet especially for women and youth in the neighborhood. One of the injured women is a Muslim.

“These are women associated with our church,” said Rev. Strengholt, stating only two have medical insurance. “We are committed to helping them whatever we need to do.”

 

Since this was written four women have died, including Ikhlas, the wife of Rev Hassan. Rev Hassan Jemes is the priest of the Sudanese congregation and  just became the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli and the Nuba Mountains. Our Mission Partner Rosie worked with Hassan in the prison previously – her heart breaks for him.

How Are We To Love the Soldiers of ISIS?

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Here’s a blog post from Greg Boyd asking the all important question: how are we supposed to love the Soldiers of ISIS? Not everyone will agree with the angle Greg takes, but this is certainly a question we all need to wrestle with.

Over the last several weeks I’ve received some form of this question almost every day. In some cases the question is asked rhetorically, as though the very question exposes the absurdity of suggesting we are to love this terroristic group. Other times the question is asked with a pragmatic twist. One person recently said to me: “If everyone just laid down their arms and loved ISIS, America would before long be under their barbaric rule. Is that what you really want?” I assured him that it was not.

To begin, it’s first important to remember that the teaching of Jesus, Paul and the rest of the New Testament about never retaliating and about instead choosing to love, bless, pray for, and do good to our enemies is emphatic, unambiguous, and never once qualified (e.g. Mt 5:21-6, 38-48; Lk 6:27-36; Rom 12:14-21). Indeed, Jesus goes so far as to make our willingness to unconditionally love enemies the pre-condition for being considered a “child of your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:44-5; Lk 6:35-6). While this radical mandate may violate our core intuitions about justified violence, and while it certainly flies in the face of many people’s pragmatic concerns, if we confess Jesus as Lord, I submit that this simply means there must be something amiss with our intuitions and pragmatic concerns. If Jesus is in fact Lord, faithfulness to his teaching and example must trump all other considerations. Otherwise we must face Jesus’ pointed question: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say” (Lk 6:46)?

Second, it’s important to note that the pragmatic concern about what would happen if everyone obeyed Jesus and therefore loved ISIS is a Christendom-type concern, for it presupposes that part of the job of Christians is to run the world. While it may sound irresponsible to the world’s pragmatists, the sole concern for Jesus followers is to be faithful citizens and ambassadors of the kingdom of God. It was precisely when the church of the fourth century embraced the pragmatic concern that it compromised the concern for faithfulness by setting down the cross and picking up the sword.

Not only this, but kingdom people need to notice that most of the world’s violence—including violence carried out “in Jesus name” throughout history—has been the result of people trying to more effectively run the world. Believing they had superior ideas about how best to rule, nations and religions have felt justified killing any who oppose them. To my mind, this simply bears witness to the fact that humans were created to be under the Lordship of their Creator, not under the lordship of other humans. When people place their trust in human rulers, it is tantamount to rejecting God (see I Sam 8) and things invariably go bad. Kingdom people are called to bear witness to God’s original design by pledging our sole allegiance to Jesus Christ and to trust him to oversee the world. This singular devotion to Christ is what empowers us to “leave all vengeance to God” and instead love and serve our enemies (Rom. 12:19-21).

It’s also relevant to people’s pragmatic concerns that, immediately after telling Jesus’ followers to “leave all vengeance to God,” Paul goes on to specify that one of the ways God exacts “vengeance” and punishes wrongdoers is by using sword-wielding governments (Rom. 13:1-6). In other words, Paul forbade kingdom people to do the very thing he assumes governments are willing to do: namely, wielding the sword. So too, Paul instructs kingdom people to leave to God the very thing that God uses governments to accomplish: namely, wielding the sword to exact vengeance on wrongdoers.

In this light, there is no need for Jesus followers to worry about what would happen if “everyone put down their weapons and loved ISIS.” The number of those willing to actually follow Jesus’ teachings and example has, unfortunately, always been relatively small, even among professing Christians. And, as Jacque Ellul so profoundly argued in is book, Violence: Reflections From A Christian Perspective, as long as there are nations and governments, there will be people who are more than willing to engage in violence, for no national government can rule its people and survive outside threats without being willing to engage in violence. Nations, governments and violence go hand-in-hand, in other words. The call of kingdom people is to opt out of this whole enterprise by pledging allegiance to Christ alone as we leave all vengeance to God and simply imitate Christ by loving our enemies (Eph 5:1-2).

With this background in place, we are in a position to notice something important about the question: How are we to love the soldiers of ISIS? The only reason this question is different from the question of how we are to love anybody else is that these people strike us as more evil than others and/or because we may be concerned about what would happen if everybody loved these soldiers. But as we’ve just seen, our call to love has nothing to do with how “good” or “evil” a person is. We’re to love “the righteous” and the “wicked,” just like the rain falls and the sun shines (Mt 5:44-45). And we’ve seen that the pragmatic concern is not part of kingdom call and is, in any case, completely unfounded. Hence, we can see that, if we’re thinking like kingdom people, the question of how we are to love the soldiers of ISIS is no different than the question of how we are to love anybody else. On that note, I’ll conclude by stating two aspects of how we are to love all people, including the soldiers of ISIS.

First, we are love the soldiers of ISIS, as we do all others, by agreeing with God that each of these soldiers has unsurpassable worth as evidenced by God’s willingness to pay an unsurpassable price for them. As God did for us and all people on Calvary, we are to ascribe unsurpassable worth to these soldiers at cost to ourselves. For most of us, the “cost to ourselves” will simply be whatever difficulty we confront as we push past our judgments, our intuitions about justified violence, and our pragmatic concerns in order to bring our hearts in line with God’s assessment of their worth on Calvary. However, for people who are directly affected by the barbarism of ISIS or who feel called to engage them as peacemakers, the cost of refusing violence and loving enemies may unfortunately be much greater. They may lose their lives, just as Jesus did. Yet, doing so does not signify defeat for the kingdom person, for if done in love, this is precisely how kingdom people overcome (see e.g. Rev. 12:11).

Second, we can love the soldiers of ISIS by praying for them and their families. Among our prayers should be prayers of blessing for their families as well as prayers for the soldiers’ deliverance. We understand that our real enemy, and their real enemy, is not “flesh and blood”: they are rather the “principalities and powers” that imprison humans in lies, hate, vengeance, the lust for power and, therefore, violence (Eph 6:12). As Origen told the pagan Celsus who accused second century Christians of being unpatriotic because of their unwillingness to fight, for all we know, the prayer we offer on behalf of our enemies does more to bring peace to our nation than killing ever could (Contra Celsus). And while killing enemies is inconsistent with expressing Calvary-like love toward them, praying for them both expresses and applies it.

 

What do you think of Greg’s perspective? And more importantly, what can we do to love these enemies of ours?

 

Thanks ReKnew for letting us share this. Re-blogged from here.

Through my enemy’s eyes – an interview with Salim Munayer

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From CMS UK.

About to give up on reconciliation in Israel-Palestine? Don’t. Watch this interview with Salim Munayer of Musalaha.

Are you thirsty for a different kind of voice in the maelstrom of voices over Israel-Palestine? How can we look with clear eyes at the conflict? Is there a hopeful path to follow? Has anyone got anything to say that is not ultimately one-sided? Salim Munayer does.

Dr Salim Munayer is director of Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Israel-Palestine and a trustee of the Church Mission Society. He co-authoredThrough My Enemy’s Eyes, with Lisa Loden.

Here, he discusses the ABC of reconciliation, what might be a Christlike response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and challenges the Church in the West about its apathy and seeming lack of desire to speak up for Christians in the Middle East.

Salim also sheds light on the competing historical narratives and theological frameworks, and the implication of the church in the conflict.