You Can Provide Hope for the Middle East

There are many ways to encourage a fellow sibling in Christ. I just discovered one that utilizes an app and a few minutes of your time. Open Doors seeks to support the persecuted church around the world. Many Christians face extreme pressure for their faith, and OD provides help with training, practical support, and bibles and literature.

20180426_095939.jpgImagine there is someone you know in Syria who is a dear sister in Christ and is in need. How would you contact her safely? How about for her church or wider Christian community? The world of technology continues to grow and can provide for unique situations. OD has produced an app called Hope For ME that can be accessed by thousands of believers in the Middle East. They say it’s in order “to connect you with the persecuted church. We’re asking Christians around the world to write messages of hope that will appear on the app, encouraging persecuted believers.”

Have you ever received a letter or message from loving family or a friend and not been greatly encouraged? I can imagine this is how people might view a message from you on this app. I made a happy discovery of this service last night, and wanted to share it with you. So make some time, just like you have in reading this, and send a brief message to encourage your family in the Middle East. Click here to go over to the Open Doors website and leave a message.

Thanks for reading! Pete


Please note some requests by Open Doors:

  • Write in English
  • Be brief and encouraging
  • Please don’t mention Open Doors
  • Please don’t criticise a country or make proposals to help

Pic: A couple enjoys the bay in Alexandria, Egypt.

Stories I Thought You’d Like (Early June)

I enjoy reading and listening to stories.  Here are some I found especially interesting in the past week or so.


Insight

Last year I was on the team to Lebanon with Justine.  She is an amazing woman with a great ministry and passion.  She is heading off to Jordan in October on a Muskathlon.  Her story is well worth the listen.

Rewriting the Story of the Starving Armenian– Taste –  10 min read

“What Americans didn’t know was that despite the moniker [of “starving Aremenian”], Armenian families like Kharmandalian’s had a rich food tradition that had been cultivated for eons.”

Christian Living

How To Love Your Wife As Christ Loved the Church – Tim Challies – 10 min read

“As a Christian husband, you are not left wondering or speculating about what it means to carry out your role in a way that pleases God and blesses your wife.  To the contrary, the Bible provides clear guidance: You are to love your wife as Christ loves his church.”

Humour

Almost Every Type of Crying – Tripp & Tyler (Youtube) – 3 1/2 mins watch

What I experienced in Lebanon last year

Last year in May I took part in a Muskathlon. In short, it’s a fundraising trip where you go to a country to support and learn about life-changing local ministries. You also take part in a walk, run, or cycle there.

In the lead up to the Muskathlon in Lebanon, I was asked a series of questions for the Open Doors blog. You can see my little piece (my name is Peter) along with something from the other members of the Aussie team.

At the same time, I received another set of questions to answer post-trip. Here are my answers.


After months of training and fundraising, what was it like crossing the finish line?

I ran half a kilometre to the finish line after 62km of walking. I was exhausted, but alive. I remember being fueled by anger at injustice, desire to finish well, and the joy of comradery. I also was getting very sick. (I’ll talk more on this another time.)

My experience of crossing the finish line was not straight forward. Yet, I’m glad I am able to still tell the tale with joy in my heart.

What has this experience done to your faith?

It’s made it all the more precious. To hear the stories of faithful believers, who have given up so much for their faith and ministry was a true blessing. To be with “muskathletes” who had all made sacrifices to be on this journey gave me such joy and encouragement. The power of prayer moved me and had a personal impact on me through my sickness. I am certain God used all I experienced to continue to grow me to be more like his Son.

Could you share one story (or one experience) that you will remember from this trip?

We were taken to a community centre run by a church. It was on the outskirts of refugee camps. The couple of hours we spent there were with Syrian and Iraqi refugee children, playing games and running activities for them. It was a chance to pour out love on these hurting kids for a little while. We had a blast, playing ball games, piggy-back chasey, and giving them snacks.

Everyone got a gift at the end, which was either sweets or a home-made crocheted toy.  I was struck with the thought of this being where love met suffering. Love came against suffering and swept over it with a force that would be felt for at least a little while. My hope and prayer for these children and other children like them, is for people to show love to them. They need a lot of grace and a lot of care. Life has been devastating for them, yet Christ is love and offers eternal hope.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about travelling with Open Doors, or doing a Muskathlon?

I would tell them a lot of things. Be ready for your faith to be challenged. You will see the faith of your brethren in Christ who’ve suffered through persecution. There is no doubt that persecution will come for believers if they are faithful and outspoken servants of Christ. Yet in some places in the world believers experience much higher levels of attack. Be ready with lots of questions and hearts ready to learn.

You must be ready to suffer. A Muskathlon is not a walk in the park. You are expected to aim for a half or full marathon, a 120km bike ride, or 63km hike, all to be done in less than a day. You are expected to aim for $10,000 in fund-raising for Open Doors*. All this effort takes its toll on your daily life when you are in the midst of it. Expect disappointments and exhaustion. Expect feeling like you can’t get the preparation done and wondering if it will be worth it.

You must be ready to be a team player. Trips like this stand and fall on team work. You need to be on-board with one another, supporting each other in your weaknesses, and loving each other. The leadership will be seeking to draw you all into a state of single-mindedness about the trip. They will guide with devotions, teachings, instructions, etc.

Finally, you must be ready to be filled with joy. Trips like this are a long journey that start with a prayer, a building of interest, or an invite, but will be carried by joy. Your team will support you and you will learn to depend on God more fully; the hard times will drive you to your knees and that will give you peace and joy. You will find reserves you didn’t know you had; you will discover your weaknesses and strengths. You will have joy as you entrust yourself to God.

 *Or Compassion International, depending on the trip.


Thanks for reading! Maybe you can consider going on a Muskathlon through Open Doors or Compassion.

Compassion Muskathlon in Indonesia – Deadline: End of May!

Open Doors Muskathlon in Jordan – Deadline: End of May!

Featured pic: Me running across the finishing line!

Why I’m Standing One With Them

The Church needs us and we need the Church.

As believers we have many gifts from God, and one of them is each another. Our fellow brothers and sisters in our local church, and in churches worldwide, are the body of Christ. We are all members of it. When one part suffers, all suffer with it. When one part is honoured, all rejoice with it¹. Have you experienced this? How well have you displayed this? I often stand condemned when I see the picture in the Bible I’m meant to fulfil. I fail every day to love my fellow believer as I should. Yet in Christ we are forgiven of our failings. We need to humbly confess them and seek to be obedient at the next opportunity.

The picture of a connected world-wide body of Christ is beautiful and exciting and hard to live out. And that’s why I love the work done through Open Doors. Through their ministry I have become more knowledgeable and filled with love for the Church in areas where it is experiencing the worst persecution. I need this connection, and so do they.

We can learn so much from the Church that assists members who’ve lost family to targeted attacks, children who are bullied at school for their parent’s faith, and believers who’ve been forced from their country. Some questions come to mind: What enables them to love so much and speak with such power? What do they pray for each day? Do they ever feel like giving up?

They are a part of the Church with much to teach us, and with a great need for support. We cannot ignore our fellow brothers and sisters. They might lose hope and give up or may die without our prayers to comfort them. Just like we have times of great struggle in our lives of service for God, they too experience trials and temptations, sometimes to the extreme. Who will stand with them in their situations? Who will care, but the Church? We are together the one body of Christ, and so let us support our members who suffer, and suffer alongside them.

Last year in May I visited a local Lebanese church with Open Doors. They are ministering  in Lebanon to Syrian refugees, who are in camps on their doorstep. The majority are Muslims, and many are questioning their faith and coming to trust in Jesus. We met a beautiful sister who shared how she came to believe in Christ in Lebanon and how she was experiencing serious persecution from her brother and family. We prayed for her then and there. It was such a sorrowful and beautiful time. It was the body of Christ in action! See some photos of my trip below. Click to enlarge.

This Easter Open Doors is seeking to provide support for the persecuted church at a time where it is especially dangerous to be a Christian. Celebrations like Easter are dangerous times for believers to gather in churches, as they can be and do get violently targeted by extremists. Two Egypt churches were targeted at Easter last year by suicide bombers, and other countries have experienced similar attacks. Open Doors is asking us to stand One With Them, praying for them, and donating a day’s wage for them. And I’m not standing one with them just because Open Doors has asked. I am standing one with them because we need them and they need us. To God be the glory. May his Church remain faithful this Easter.

¹1 Corinthians 12:20-32 (Bible.com)