It’s Blog Action Day! 🙂
This year the theme is Human Rights. And my thoughts have turned to religious freedom and the right to worship.
If you’ve read my blog post Dear Twitter you’ll know that I get fed up with the anti-christian malarkey that goes on in social media. But when I think of the work of Church in Chains and some of the stories that they tell from around the world, I realise what a privilege it is to live in a country where the only ‘stick’ that I take is verbal, and I can safely live a life of faith.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
This freedom does not exist in many countries around the world. Christians suffer a wide range of forms of persecution, sometimes perpetrated by the state (ranging from discrimination to imprisonment, torture and even execution), sometimes by society (from harassment to violent mob attacks).
Church in Chains is an independent Irish charity that encourages prayer and action in support of persecuted Christians around the world. It also advocates before governments and ambassadors and sends aid to persecuted Christians. Church in Chains publishes news on its website and in a quarterly magazine and weekly news updates.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is Sunday 3rd of November. Part of Church in Chains’ focus for that day will be Syria. You can join people all over the world as we pray for Syria together.
Of all the work that Church in Chains does, I’ve chosen to focus on Syria as it is a country that I think about regularly. I spent 9 weeks in Cyprus a couple of years ago and though most of the time I was helping out with a small international fellowship, I spent the last two days at a conference listening about the work of Christian churches and ministries all over the Middle East. I still remember the Pastor from Syria locking eyes with me, telling me how beautiful his country is and how beautiful the people are. He told me that the international news bulletins about his country are helping to kill it and that one day I should determine to come and visit, so that I can see for myself. His passion was not just for Syrian Christians – but all Syrian people. As I think about the conversation I can still see the mix of hope and grief in his face. Syria plays on my mind – and I hear his voice every time I see a news report on the country.
There are many other ways you can help.
Go to www.churchinchains.ie to see how you can get involved with the work.
And if you are someone who prays, be sure to thank God today for the freedom to worship and ask God to give grace and strength to those who don ‘t enjoy that right.