HEARTLAND | Meredith Flynn
A recent visit with exchange students was like a crash course in geopolitics.
“This group doesn’t get along with these people,” they explained before a dinner of sloppy joes. Our new friends, both from former Soviet republics, told us about the precarious dynamics in their homelands.
“That’s a closed border.”
Their voices were matter-of-fact, unflinching about the hostilities that are, for them, the way things have always been.
It’s hard to imagine being so used to war in your own country. On the other side of the world, however, it’s too easy to adopt that kind of nonchalance.
Take the recent rash of violent conflict sweeping across the Middle East. War, unrest, and religious persecution are such big parts of what we know about the region. Many of us are desensitized, disengaged, and even disinterested in who’s fighting who now.
Until a tweet or Facebook post puts a face on the issue. Or until you remember someone you know—like my friends at the dinner table—who understands and has possibly experienced this kind of personal war that sends families running for the mountains to escape almost certain death.
We all know someone who has been persecuted.
As militant groups in Iraq continued their assault on religious minorities, including Christians, leaders in the U.S. urged the western church to remember that. These fellow Christians are our family, Open Doors USA President David Curry wrote this month. We ought to “pray fervently” for them, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said.
We all know someone, because we’re family.
But when the problems seem distant, how do Christians pray fervently? The International Mission Board is leading the way by including prayer requests at the end of their news articles about the unrest in the Middle East.
“Beg the Lord to awaken the world to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iraq and provide pathways for Christians and others to respond,” they posted after a story on the Yazidi Kurds forced to flee their homes.
“Ask God to miraculously protect the Yazidis and other Kurds who fled into the mountains; ask Him to provide a means of rescue and temporary homes for the refugees.”
And for militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): “Pray that ISIS leaders and soldiers would experience the love of Jesus Christ and that their lives would be transformed.”
We all know someone, so let’s pray.
Meredith Flynn is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.