Tuesday, October 27, 2015

31 Moments in Time :: it's not enough to feel like you've done something

During lunch with 2 of my adult children the other day we were discussing something that will be taking place at church in a couple weeks, namely the wearing of orange t-shirts and having a congregational wide photo taken and sent to the Middle East to show our solidarity with the persecuted Christians there.

The question was raised by Sam as to the validity of affecting a real change in anyone's life by the wearing of a shirt and sending of a photo. Sam has always been my global thinker and activist. He wants to help but he wants his efforts to be effective. He was the first in our family to sport a pair of Tom's shoes and participate in the "One Day Without Shoes" campaign. With the encouragement, help and support of his math teacher, Sam and his classmates, while on a mission trip in Chicago at JPUSA (Jesus People USA) did their part in plastering posters around the city for the "Kony 2012 Cover the Night" event.

Those two events happened, or in the case of Tom's Shoes, continue to happen, to bring awareness to the American people of something horrific that needs to change. For those unfamiliar with Joseph Kony, he is the leader of the LRA (the Lord's Resistance Army) a guerrilla group that used to operate out of Uganda. He has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity but still remains at large. He's a bad guy. The Cover the Night event did not turn out to be a huge success but progress was made in getting the American government involved on a more serious level as a result of the Kony 2012 movement and documentary. Tom's Shoes is hugely successful in providing shoes to children in 3rd world countries. Each pair of shoes purchased here results in the provision of a second pair to a child in need. That's real change.

Our conversation drifted to facebook and all the opportunities there are to "Like and Share" if you support this, that or the other thing, and just how ineffectual that is at bringing about any sort of real change. All it does is let people feel like they have made a difference which in reality often causes more harm because we 'feel' like we have done something already therefore we don't do anything else.

So do a shirt and a photo affect change? Yes and no. I'm a huge fan of the value and importance of photographs. They do have the power to stir emotion in people and bring about unity which I think, if the photos actually make it to the people being persecuted, they would be encouraged to know that we are thinking of them and praying for them. It would give them hope which is huge. I do not have visions of their captors showing them our photo prior to their beheading but I also know there are many Christians in areas of persecution who are not captives, yet, that might have the opportunity to see it. The American people are pretty aware of the persecution of Christians going on today. You can see them being beheaded on almost every media format which to me is horrific. I have not watched one.  I don't know how helpful a t-shirt being sported around town will be at convincing someone they should do something. In reality most of us don't know what to do, and that's a serious statement with life and death ramifications. I think a t-shirt is a platitude that makes us feel better. Truthfully, we do feel helpless to affect any real sort of change, don't we? I know I do. We can't even begin to comprehend all the refugees and what to do with them let alone figure out how to stop an organization like ISIS.

I live in a region that has been voted one of the most beautiful places in America, an area dotted with idyllic small towns and beautiful landscapes. The horrors of the world don't really come near us here and it is very easy and tempting for us to bury our heads in the abundance of sand we have. I am blessed to attend a church that is doing something more than 'Like and Share' about a problem that is so horrific. Maybe in that 'something' God will reveal to us another step we can take to make a difference. You have to start somewhere.

This is the symbol used by Islamic extremists to mark the homes and businesses of Christians.  It is the Arabic symbol for the letter N and they use it to mark someone as a Nazarene. The symbol is used by Christians in American to show our solidarity with those who have been marked. To find out more about the symbol and its' use go to http://www.nasarean.org/.

Our lunch conversation made a final turn to the effectiveness of prayer as the overall best way to bring about change. Our church will be having a corporate time of prayer for the persecuted Christians which I was glad to hear, and there is an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Christians which is Sunday, November 1st. Pray for the safety of the Christians being persecuted. Pray for the hearts of their persecutors. Pray that we would find a way to physically help them. Pray that we raise children who are sensitive and proactive.  Pray that it doesn't come here...

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

This story was written as part of a 31 day writing challenge. To read more of my stories in the challenge, click on my link. Thanks


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