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.
Harrison’s statement includes a prayer and a link to the June/July issue of The Lutheran Witness, which focuses on Christian persecution.
To read the president’s persecution statement, click here.
Posted Aug. 8, 2014
I have just listened to an interview with Canon Andrew White, St. George’s Anglican Church, Iraq. He has mentioned American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East as a valid and expedient way to get resources to the refugees in North Iraq.
From the sound of it, unless assistance arrives immediately, they will not be around much longer. Please advise. With our Lord Jesus Christ;s blessings, let us not shun our Christian bothers.
Amen, let’s arise! “A few good men” – what have we to fear, dear brothers and sisters? Can we not see the end-time unfolding?
Dear President Harrison,
I read your statement on how we can aide Christians that are being persecuted in the Middle East and Africa and I agree we would not like our church workers in foreign countries to be in danger because of what we do. However do you really think our ‘being nice and not making a stink’ will appease them or will it only embolden their enemies to do more because our church is afraid to say anything?
Remember with whom we are dealing; they respect strength not weakness.
As an American citizen, I have asked our President to help the Iraq Christians and am proud that we are delivering humanitarian food and water to the Christians in Mount Sinjar and bombing the militant Sunni Muslims around the mountain and those going toward our troops and consulate in Irbil.
Does only the New Testament pertain to modern day Christians? In Psalms, David wrote several prayers for the LORD to smite his enemies.
The Lord destroyed armies who were trying to kill His people throughout the Old Testament. Aren’t the Christians in the Middle East and Africa, His people too? Aren’t they our brothers and sisters in Christ?
I am not saying the church should react as it did during the Crusades and form an army to physically fight ISIS. However I would like the Church to do more than to tell us to pray for the strengthening of our own faith in order to prepare for our own persecution and then send money anonymously.
I would like us to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ to remain faithful, not denounce their faith, and know that we are praying for them, to our Father, and will join them in Heaven one day. Then I would also pray to God to protect and preserve His children from their enemies by raining down fire and brimstone upon their merciless murderers. Finally I would ask God to forgive them and soften both of our hearts; so that, in the future we can live in peace.
I remember when the US, HHS threatened our churches first amendment rights to freedom of religion and several heads of the Christian denominations united to write a letter to the government and joined in law suits against the HHS. Why can’t these same churches unit and organize ongoing prayer vigils, for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, in front of the United Nations building in NY, and in front of all the US consulates belonging to countries who allow this persecution to continue. This would publicize the issue and show solidarity with these suffering Christians. I am sure the knowledge of these demonstrations would get back to the persecuted ones and hopefully strengthen them in their faith.
Where is the militant church?
Onward Christian Soldiers!
Lorraine M. Humes
I agree with Lorraine, but our churches are divided among themselves; and we have been terrorized by our own government. We need to fight back here in the USA too.
Can you please tell me what the collected funds will be spent on? Is there some known current need that we can effect? Or is this in anticipation of some future need?
Lorraine brings up a good point. Remember that prayer changes things and that our fellow Christians need our prayers, as well as our support.
I thank you for your words of encouragement to LCMS Christians. The horrifying reports that are coming day and night only make me wonder and worry if my faith is strong enough to endure such persecution. Thank you too for the opportunity to assist financially. Please keep us updated and stay on the forefront of this issue. Christians everywhere must make His presence known throughout the world. We will not be moved! Let us stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes”~Rom 1:16
I agree, we must petition visibly, challenge those who make the decisions, prayer vigils. Anything that will let our weak bretheren know that we are here. Yes, we should pray in our quiet closets but we can and must let God’s message be known throughout the land. Cling to His Word and Promise. If weare martyred for our faith, so be it but evil must be stopped with our Lord’s leading.
Other than the imprecatory 3rd and 7th petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, as exposited in the Large Catechism, will the Missouri Synod publish any imprecatory prayers to God to crush the demonic actions of ISIS and other islamists throughout the world in their persecution and murder of Christians?