Acknowledging the horrors of Christian persecution worldwide, particularly in recent days in Iraq, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison issued a statement Aug. 8 that offers encouragement for Lutherans — and an opportunity for them to help — in light of these troubling events.
In the statement, “Making a faithful confession,” Harrison offers four suggestions:
- Repent, “for our own lack of faith, for our confidence in passing, transitory things rather than in the holy things of God (2 Thessalonians 1).”
- Remember, “that the world is not our friend and it is not our home” and that “we are simply Christians, citizens of a better land, a different kind of country, of heaven itself (1 Peter 2:11).”
- Ready, by studying Scriptures, catechisms and hymns “so that — if God in His infinite wisdom allows this suffering to befall us, too, one day — we are emboldened by the Word of God, which is in our hearts and on our lips (Romans 10:9ff).”
- Rejoice, at the memory, on Aug. 10, of St. Lawrence, who remained cheerful as he was burned alive for his “faithful confession” and “fidelity” (1 Peter 1:3-8).
As Christians, we can be confident in the days to come, Harrison writes, “because we have been marked — just like the Christians in Iraq — with the sign of the holy cross on our foreheads and on our hearts in the waters of Baptism.
“In that gift, Christ promised us eternal life, salvation, comfort, mercy, even joy with Him, despite what the world and all its evil send our way. And He always makes good on His promises.”
Harrison also asks for prayers “for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted so ruthlessly in Iraq,” and introduces the Synod’s new Fund to Aid Christians Under Persecution. Contributions to the fund will be used to assist — through nonprofit human-care and relief agencies — Christians facing death or persecution primarily in countries where the LCMS does not have missionaries or partner churches.
The fund is an example of how The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod continues to support world relief and human-care ministries even though LCMS World Relief and Human Care no longer exists as an official entity, according to Mark Hofman, executive director of Mission Advancement for the Synod. “We still do the work,” he noted, as part of the ongoing mercy arm of the LCMS.
To read the president’s persecution statement, click here.
Posted Aug. 8, 2014