40Acts2015: Catching up again!

Yesterday’s Act, and meditation was one that really captured my imagination – and shocked me. I suppose it shouldn’t have done so, really, as I did – on an intellectual level, at least – know that there are Christians the world over who are persecuted for their faith. But I suppose it was reading their stories, and pondering what I would do in such a situation, that really brought  home to me what these people were suffering and going through in order to worship and follow Christ.

Here is the prompt and the Acts:

DAY 31 : IN COURAGE

It takes incredible bravery to stand up for what you believe in. Millions of Christians throughout the world face extreme persecution simply for following Jesus. Just because you’re here and they’re over there, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Your support and encouragement is vital. Today’s act is all about being generous in encouraging the persecuted church.

PRAY:If you’ve got five minutes, pray. It’s the most powerful weapon we’ve got in the middle of darkness. Pray for justice, peace and mercy for all those experiencing persecution because of their beliefs.

WRITE:Did you know you can write to a persecuted Christian? Here’s a great template to get you started. Alternatively, write to your local MP to make sure the issue is kept on the government’s agenda.

CAMPAIGN:Start a fundraising campaign for a charity that directly assists with persecuted Christians. Not sure who to choose? Take a look at this list.

As I said on a FB post – I can do words! I can do cards! Yesterday I was too busy to do this, although I did take time out to pray (despite not being convinced of the efficacy of a vague “please keep them safe” kind of prayer). However over the weekend I will be writing letters and making cards. Some of the stories on the Open Doors site are quite harrowing: here is just one.

Pastor Ibrahim Kithaka, Senior Pastor of the East Africa Pentecostal Church in Kenya, was murdered in October last year.

Ibrahim had gone out to sell some goats at the family farm and stopped off at a supermarket to bring some food home – but never arrived.

To begin with, the family weren’t worried, but as the evening wore on they and members of his church began a search for him that went on all night. They found his body the next day, dumped in a bush near Madamani trading centre in Vitegeni.

It is still not known who was responsible for his death, or why it happened.

sarah

“It is very difficult,” says Sarah, his widow. “Ibrahim lived to serve God and God’s people. That was his one passion. My husband was so loved around here… he, too, loved people. He educated the poor and helped so many others. He was paying school fees for eight needy students… He did this because he wanted them to succeed in life. He did not want anyone to be limited by poverty.”

Quite frankly, if my taking an hour or so to write some letters can bring comfort and hope to people who are hurting and afraid then that is an hour well spent. That’s Sunday afternon sorted!

 

EDIT: I’ve just spent a couple of hours (Sunday afternoon) writing several letters & making cards which can be sent to Christians who are living through difficult times. It was hardly a sacrifice for me, and I hope that the letters will encourage them.

DAY 32: Today’s Act is about bragging…but not about oneself…

We’re turning bragging on its head. This act is about blowing someone else’s trumpet and telling others how great they are. It’s the generous antidote to gossip and criticism – talking up someone’s good points and letting others know what you appreciate about them. Think about who adds a spark to your life just by being uniquely them. Got someone in mind? Great, now go shout to the world about them.

ACKNOWLEDGE:This one can be done in the simplest of ways and still have a huge impact. Declare their brilliance through a quick tweet, post a knockout photo of them in a (slightly) mushy instagram post, casually mention in conversation at work how brilliant another member of staff is. Simple but effective. #bestiebrag

UTILISE:Maybe they would be perfect for an upcoming position at work or in church. Maybe they’ve achieved something recently that deserves to be publicly declared. If you can think of even the smallest specific reason why bragging about this person could lead to greater things, then don’t hold that information back.

OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE:It’s easy to spot ten ways in which your bestie is brilliant, but what about the people you find it a little harder to gel with? What’s great about them? We can guarantee you can find something. Take time to really consider this, and then be as brave and bold as possible and let this person and those around them know.

I am lucky to have lots of dear friends…but I would like to brag about the “young” people in my life (in inverted commas as my niece, while still considerably younger than myself, may not, at 30, be considered a “young person”.)

I have 4 nieces and nephews on my side of the family. My brother’s two girls are wonderful! They are so generous with their time to my mum (known as M’Nan) and to others. Ruth, who is a teacher, has just become a mum and Rose works for a charity, having, in the past, volunteered to work in Rwanda with the YWCA, worked in Ghana building a school, and having been in Sudan. They are both wonderful, well rounded young women.

hardmans

Rose, Ruth, Lydia, Mike (my brother), mum

My sister’s two boys are equally great – they are funny and charming. Kieran is a primary school teacher in Edinburgh and Conor works in the media. I don’t see them very often, but I am proud to be their Aunt.

On Mr FD’s side, the nephews and nieces are younger. The Canadian branch, Olivia and Matthew are still at school, enjoying life. Olivia is coming to the end of her school time and is looking at careers. Last time I heard she was considering catering – taking after her mum and uncle. Matthew is extremely sporty. Cal, who lives with his dad (Mr FD’s brother, the chef) and mum in the UK, is very musical, playing keyboards, drums and something else (something windy, I think, but I can’t remember. Sorry Cal!) He has done lots of interesting things, going on music camps and other such jollifications.

Then there are my godchildren. Ruth got married last year, and works as a graphic designer. She is a committed Christian, and works hard in her church. Simon is at University, studying history, and Joe is in the midst of the long process of becoming an architect. At the moment, he is taking some time out from his studies. He has worked in France on a project building an ecological house, and is now working in Columbia.

joe

Joe. Building something in Columbia.

There are other splendid young people I know too – Hannah and Isaac, (Joe’s siblings), Max, Joe and Alyssia, Flynn and India (children of friends), Guy, (Simon’s brother) and Tim (Ruth’s brother). There are wonderful young people at church who are truly committed to doing God’s work…the list goes on.

Thinking about them now, I realise how blessed I am to know these vibrant, generous (sometimes troubled) young people. Thank you to their parents for their nurturing which has brought these people to where they are.

EDIT AGAIN: I posted this on Facebook and had some lovely replies from said nephews & nieces. Bless them!

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