Blog Action Day 2013: The Religious Right!

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 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.

Blog Action Day 2012 – Giving… into The Power of We!

The heartcry of The Power of We can be heard in many areas of life, if we listen out for it. From issues of mental health to financial difficulty – the message is very similar. “You’re not alone… or, if you are alone, you don’t have to be.”

The Power of We is a concept that also sits very well into biblical thought. From the Garden of Eden when God decided to make the woman, so that the man would not be alone(a), to when Solomon said that, “Two are better than one… if either of them falls down, one can help the other up”(b), to the New Testament where the writer of the letter to the Hebrews urges believers to, “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”(c)

I believe that each individual is responsible for their own connection (or lack of) to God. But as well as “I the Christian”, there is also “We the Church”. I’m not talking about a particular building, denomination or institution. I’m talking about the people of God who collectively as the Body of Christ, make up His Church. Everyday, somewhere, you will find part of that ‘Body’ demonstrating the love of Jesus to those in need!

One organisation doing exactly that is Tearfund. Here in Ireland there is a small dedicated team who, working through churches and Christian organisations across the world, bring help and hope to people living in dire poverty. They work with forgotten children, vulnerable women, people affected by HIV, and provide emergency relief to those who have lost everything in times of disaster.

One of their current campaigns is                        STOP HUNGER NOW! *
Meet Moses – he has been hungry all his life!
Moses would love to be a doctor when he grows up but his dream seems hopeless when his grades slip during the ‘hunger season’. ‘It’s hard to concentrate in school when you are hungry,’ says Moses. He is 13 years old, but because of lack of good nutrician he is the build of a much younger child.

It seems incredible that in a fertile country such as Uganda, with two agricultural seasons a year, people go hungry. But last year, Moses’ family survived on a meagre diet of one bowl of cowpeas per day. ‘I remember my father crying at night and asking God to provide for our family,’ Moses recalls.

Pastor Joseph leads the village church. In an effort to help local people forge their own path out of poverty, as well as Bible teaching, he began providing agricultural training. He taught people about the best types of crops to plant and how to irrigate them.
Moses’ father and mother were eager to learn. They worked hard and, earlier this year, they reaped a bumper harvest. They were able to buy a goat for their family, and Moses and his siblings now enjoy a bowl of nutritious milk every morning before they head off to school.

Moses says, ‘I am very proud of my father and the changes he has made in his life.’
But there are thousands of hungry families like Moses’ praying in desperation for God to provide. Tearfund and the local church can be that answer – with your help. **

In chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, we read the story of a boy who offers his small meal to feed a large crowd. Jesus gets involved and the multitudes are fed! Part of ‘The Power of We’ is the effect that a collection of even the smallest of financial gifts can have. Tearfund reminds us that a lot of these families they work with live on the equivalent of not much more than €1 per day.

Give a little,
it’ll help a lot!

Money troubles are everywhere. Most Irish families are struggling. But we in developed countries must remember that poverty is relative! If at all possible we must keep giving; even if it’s just a little. As the saying goes “it’ll help a lot”.

If you would like to help the work of Tearfund Ireland or just find out some more about their work you can go to their website.

This post was written as a contribution to Blog Action Day 2012

(a) Genesis 2:18  (b) Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (c) Hebrews 10:24-25
The section from * to ** is based on information directly supplied by Tearfund Ireland. You can find out more at