Dear reader, please consider a transfer of membership to my congregation in St. Louis, MO if you are a current resident of one of the following countries:
Afghanistan Saudi Arabia
Why relocate to St. Louis? Cardinals baseball (2011 World Champions). Four seasons. Budweiser. The Arch. Comparatively safe to your country. And our church needs members who have experienced outright persecution for their faith. In fact, I believe your presence in our church would be exponential in its impact. We need you to change us. Your American brothers and sisters are getting lazy on the couch of comfort and contentment.
We in the American church frequently lament the fall of Christian influence in the United States. But such whining seems to be a shrill cry when you consider the worldwide body of Christ. In a rather surprising front page cover, Newsweek’s February 13th, 2012 feature article is titled “The Rise of Christophobia.” It chronicles the intense worldwide persecution of Christians, particularly in Muslim majority countries. Noting the case of Nigeria, author Ayann Hirsi Ali writes, “In the month of January 2012 alone, Boko Haram (a national religious organization) was responsible for 54 deaths. In 2011 its members killed at least 510 people and burned down or destroyed more than 350 churches.”
We annually gather a reluctant batch of adolescent students in a rite called confirmation. In the Lutheran Service Book Agenda, a question is asked of all confirmands:
“Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” They are to respond: “I do, by the grace of God.”
We might get a different response if 14-year-old Billy was dropped in Pakistan where a “blasphemy law” can make a declaration of faith in the Triune God a criminal act. Each of us would give critical consideration to our confirmation vows if we lived under such a threat.
I am humbled by the faith of minority Christians who stand as lone voices in their country and culture. I am always a bit uncomfortable with the monolithic nature of my denomination’s demographic. We are too safe and too comfortable. The issues we fight about are too parochial. "Worship wars" are inconsequential when you could lose your job or your life for speaking the Apostles Creed. So with seriousness, I am requesting the transfer of any Christian who comes from a context of persecution. We need you. We need to you to:
- Teach us what it is to sacrifice.
- Remind us to pray for the worldwide church.
- Show us how risk for the sake of the gospel.
- Raise our missional horizon.
- Show us that we are blessed.
“The more often you mow us down the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.” - The ancient church father Tertullian