Pray with our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters
In September I traveled to Jos, Nigeria with fellow TLI Faculty members, Jim Seiler, and Jon and Francie Byron, to support Journey Nigeria. I had the privilege to lead Lectio Divina each morning for the Alumni group, a prayer where we listen to scripture read aloud in community in a meditative posture – one of my favorite elements of every retreat.
Having been to Nigeria for the first time the year before, I was excited to participate with the Alumni and see some of my new friends again. I can say “friends” because I have found the Nigerians to be so warm and welcoming that it has been incredibly easy for me to join their community.
Our trip to Nigeria and the Journey retreat in Jos was almost called off as Islamist violence against Christians had once again flared up and people were attacked. I say once again because earlier this year about 200 people were killed as Islamists stormed a village outside of Jos and attacked defenseless people. Jim and I traveled through that very area and saw the places where people had died and homes burned and damaged. It was along the road to the retreat center. Earlier this year the attack was so close that people saw the dead bodies on the road as they traveled to attend The Journey Nigeria.
For many of us that is very hard to imagine. We in the United States don’t face that kind of persecution. When do you ever remember worrying about being killed for being a Christian here in the US? Probably never. I certainly have not.
One of the sessions Jim Seiler led at the Journey Nigeria was on writing a psalm of lamentation. Jim separated the class into four groups and each group wrote a psalm. I’d like you to read a modern day psalm of lament that was written about a month ago from Generation 3 of Journey Nigeria…
O Lord, how long, how long?
Will the blood continue to flow in the land?
And the evil doers go free and are celebrated
Not brought to justice and the government are looking the other way
God! Where are You? Are You not seeing?
Will You continue to be angry with us forever?
Are You not omniscient?
Do our children have a future? Are they really safe?
Is the gate of hell prevailing against the church?
The blood of Abel cried and You heard!
How much volume of blood will flow before You respond?
Yes, we know You rule over the affairs of men
Your ears are not dumb, Your hands are not short to reach out and You are a sovereign and just God
O God! O Lord!
We have no elsewhere to run to. We run back to You for help
We know You are All-powerful, All knowing, You are able to save
Arise O Lord! And deliver the land from bloodshed and annihilation
We praise You Lord, Your children; the church praise You because You are the prince of peace
We praise You for Your deliverance.
Powerful. I can feel the rawness, the pain and sorrow. And I have experienced their hope and rejoicing. When these Nigerians sing in community, without microphones or music or instruments, just voices - it is just something to behold. Beautiful. I was frequently brought to tears.
Shortly after our return, as we prepared to attend the Southern California October Journey retreat, we received word from Nigeria and encouragement as they were praying for our upcoming retreat. But I was struck by this…”Please pray for our city of Jos that has been under attack by the Islamists for the past few days.”
We were there just days before. THIS IS REAL. And while they are praying for us, they also ask that we pray for them. Can you join with me to pray with them for their specific requests?
- Pray for the city of Jos – a region on the battlefront between Christianity and Islam. Pray for peace.
- Pray for the safety of our Christian brothers and sisters and their loved ones. Pray for comfort and healing to those who have lost loved ones.
- Pray for the upcoming elections (February 2019) and the electioneering process. Pray for our Christian brethren who seek elective offices that God’s will be done and for grace.
- Pray that we all will reflect the light of Christ and His kingdom even at difficult times like this.
I love and admire my friends from Nigeria. In the midst of persecution, they still desire to reflect the light of Christ. I am humbled to know these dear people.
God our Father and King of Kings, we stand with Your children, our brothers and sisters, that labor in Your kingdom. Hear their cries and deliver their land to Your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray with them, Amen.
Jim and I are alumni from Gen 21 and have stayed connected ever since we graduated. Never in my wildest imagination did I anticipate the paths I’ve taken since I accidentally entered The Journey back in 2012 and my involvement with The Leadership Institute since. I now have great friends, like Jim, and serving together makes the journey so enjoyable. No wonder Jesus sent people out in two’s. I encourage you to take a step of faith and act on that little whisper, that little tug in a direction that cannot be known in advance. I know I am the better for it.