by Caleb Sattler
Christian persecution continues, and the world is watching.
In recent months, a terrorist group attempting to create an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS) has brutally murdered Christians alongside religious minorities in Iraq. From Sinjar, the August 7 flight of religious minorities in fear of genocide leaves families with little sustenance facing death unless something is done. This has drawn attention and action from the world and most recently the U.S.
How should Lutherans respond?
Around the world, our church is endlessly tried by evil. We know suffering arrives alongside faith. Still, when horrifying persecution occurs, we are stunned. We are flooded with compassion and a desire to act. Beheadings for Christian faith drench the human heart in rage and pity—and a desire to do something, anything. As Lutherans acting in the love of Christ, we know the world’s need for that love. We have endless witness and mercy work ahead to brothers and sisters around the world who are dying for that love.
And we have tools. Paul reminds the Ephesians (6:10-20) to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against evil, spiritual armor that protects us as we enter battle. The truth of Christ’s righteousness made known by the Word brings the peace of His salvation. The Holy Spirit strengthens the whole Christian Church on earth. And Paul teaches the Romans (5:3) that persecution for faith in Christ is never worthless suffering. Instead, it strengthens both the Christian and the Church in endurance, character and hope on Christ.
So, don’t be afraid. Act.
Begin with prayer. Appeal to our heavenly Father to strengthen the Christian Church against violent persecution and to allow the Gospel to be heard. Forgive the persecutors. Keep praying while you support fellow Christians around the world in whatever way you can. Search the Word on persecution and discuss it in your classrooms, online, in devotions and in journalism. Mobilize. Make donations. Volunteer your time abroad. Join in mission. Elect leaders with the power to affect these situations positively. Organize or assist with any variety of relief. Go forth and meet genocide with witness and mercy, proclaiming Christ in the darkest places.
It’s dangerous, but we are not alone.
We’re Christians with Christ ahead.