Monday, 5 October 2015

Christians on the Left: Remembering the Persecuted Church

As members of the Church Leaders group, we were invited to a breakfast meeting hosted by Christians on the Left, in the amazing Fishermen’s Chapel, at St Paul’s Church, Brighton.
‘How long can we Stay Silent?’ was the theme, remembering the persecuted Church.
Zoe, from Open Doors, gave us a moving insight into how the current refugee crisis is affecting Christians in Syria and Iraq. Many pastors, who have got approved visas to emigrate, have chosen to stay ‘to care for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave.’  Many are trapped inside Syria, too poor or infirm to escape.

For those who remain, life has just ‘stopped’. No jobs, no schools for their children, no way to start rebuilding their future. Christians are desperately trying to stay and be a light in the darkness.

They are desperate for support from us for a ceasefire and a peace process which recognizes ethnic and religious diversity.

Stephen Timms MP had just returned from New York, and a meeting of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief. They are pushing for the reality of Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights to be delivered in practice. Increasingly flagrant breaches by countries like Iran and Vietnam, need to be addressed by the UN.
I was surprised to learn that 80% of those persecuted for their faith are Christians.

It is easy to feel comfortable and complacent in the UK, but I felt really moved to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing persecution and discrimination for loving Jesus.
There have been reports of ‘Damascus Road’ experiences – quite literally, when just as Paul did, some persecutors have found Christ. We were asked to pray for more ‘Damascus Road’ experiences.

(I am now on my way to the Conservative Party Conference!)

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