Charlie Hebdo, ISIS, Boko Haram. These words bring to mind tragedy and ideologically fueled violence. As members of the global community, we need to understand the factors that lead some to engage in acts of terror in the name of their beliefs.
In this episode of Pass the Mic, I was asked about some of the associations between Islam, the disenfranchisement that leads some down the path of violence, and how Christians should respond. I tried to keep the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ central to the analysis, keeping in mind the distinction that radical Islam is a system, but Muslims are people.
Christians respond to hate with love, aggression with peace, and darkness with light because their Savior did the same and empowers us to imitate Him.
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In the wake of the Brown/Garner decisions, it has been revealed that numerous conversations need to take place in American Christian circles regarding culture, race, class, systemic injustice, public policy, Christian responsibility, and so forth. Of course, at the center of each of these themes we place the Gospel and its implications for each.
Enter the urban disciple maker, who has long been considering these themes. The Christian focus throughout the twentieth century on conversion strategies alone has already been weighed by many and found wanting. Our urban disciple makers understand that discipleship is a much longer and deeper commitment than simply moving an individual from impiety to piety. It involves walking alongside men and women from foolishness to wisdom, and making certain that they know – tangibly – that Christ has earned them a valued place and given them a strong, secure and transcendent identity in Him; a place where even sinful choices can be redeemed and kingdom potential realized.
It’s in this place that obedience becomes doxological, and not merely a path of self-righteousness that simply earns one the right to survive in one’s own neighborhood. Continue Reading »
Posted in Culture, Dignity, Humanity, Image of God/imago Dei, Justice | Tagged African American culture, discipleship, Eric Garner, ISIS, Islamic State, Michael Brown | 9 Comments »
I was honored to have this opinion piece carried by the Reformed African American Network taking a theological look at the contours of Christian persecution as they relate to church growth.
You can read the article here:
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After several clashes this past summer, Christian members of the Guantou church in Wenzhou, a city known as China’s Jerusalem, saw the Chinese government remove the cross from atop their church. Church members were told by their government that if they resisted further, the whole building would be torn down.
Activists and academics believe this is part of a renewed Communist Party crackdown on faith that began in the eastern province of Zhejiang earlier this year.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Human Rights, Suffering Church | Tagged China’s Jerusalem, Christian, Communist Church, Guantou, persecution, Wenzhou | Leave a Comment »
A few weeks ago, you likely saw pictures of Christian owned buildings in Mosul marked with the symbolic “Arabic nun” (the first letter representing Nazrani or Nazarene), for evacuation or destruction. Some on social media took on the Arabic letter as an icon or profile picture to show solidarity.
So, what happened to those buildings? Since taking over Mosul on June 10, ISIS has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.
Following the jump is the complete list of the Christian institutions formerly in Mosul, grouped by denomination. Since radical Islam knows no doctrinal distinctions among Christians, the list includes places of worship, residence or office formerly used by Evangelical Presbyterians, the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Chaldeans and Armenians, and others.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Dignity, Human Rights, Humanity, Image of God/imago Dei, Suffering Church | Leave a Comment »
Displaced Iraqi Christians attending a worship service in northern Kurdistan. Photo credit: Barnabas Fund UK.
In light of the advancement of ISIS and ISIL in the Middle East and the resulting decimation of numerous religious minority communities, I’ve received texts and phone calls asking how to navigate the large swath of media voices, and asking how Christians in particular can respond wisely.
By God’s gracious design, I was invited by Jemar Tisby and Beau York of Pass the Mic to discuss the humanitarian situation in the region, and present a reasonable response for concerned Christians watching from a distance. By way of an update since the interview, humanitarian agency Barnabas Fund UK reported this week that the Islamist organization has clearly set its sights on territorial expansion in the region, with one of its primary aims the eradication of the Christian community. in other words, what has happened to religious minorities in Mosul may soon become normative for all dissenters in the region.
I’ve been encouraging people not to approach the suffering church with tepid pity, but rather with compassionate identification. Understanding the internal, historical and ideological dynamics while avoiding sweeping rhetoric seems a good place to start. Listen to the interview here.
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In July 2014, I was invited to the Creating Options Together Conference by John Sather, the National Director of CRU Inner City, to give a presentation on the current condition of the global suffering church. At the conference, I was honored to share the platform with my husband Carl Ellis, Bob GreyEagle, Adam Edgerly, Sunish Abraham, Edrin C. Williams, Kenneth Stokes, and the legendary Dr. John Perkins.
Among other things, this lecture:
1. explores the sociological similarities among persecution tactics through recent history,
2. examines the theological contours behind the dynamics of Christian suffering and its redemptive potential,
3. outlines how concerned and sympathetic human rights advocates can effectively respond to the current crisis.
Watch the fifty-minute presentation here, and thanks in advance for checking it out. (And yes, in answer to an often asked question, I do sing occasionally in the course of the message).
Posted in Humanity, Identity, Image of God/imago Dei, Justice, Suffering Church | Tagged COTC 2014, global suffering church, Persecuted Church, persecution | 3 Comments »