One aspect of my years in ministry was a period when I was engaged in working with the suffering Church. The nature of that suffering was anything from social and economic exclusion through to imprisonment and martyrdom. Perhaps, given the horrifying recent events across the Middle East, and more especially in Syria and northern Iraq, we can empathise with huge numbers of our Christian family, whose roots reach back into the soil of the New Testament age, being destroyed through brutal persecution.
I have had the privilege of meeting and worshipping alongside such oppressed communities, and never was active faith more alive than when among those for whom their very safety hung by a thread. I, of course, enjoyed the privilege of a UK passport and so was only visiting.
I recently received from a Premier listener a wonderful prayer written by an Iranian Christian who endured solitary confinement for 351 days on account of his Christian faith. In that space he crafted this, his solitary prayer:
My wilderness is painful but lovely, some parts of my wilderness are covered with thorns and hurt my feet, but I love it and that’s why I call it Lovely Pain.
My wilderness is so hot my tears disappear before falling onto the ground, but it is cool under your shadows.
My wilderness is like an endless road but short compared to eternity.
My wilderness is dry but an oasis with the Holy Spirit’s rain.
My wilderness seems to be a lonely trip, but I am not alone, for my Beloved is with me; not only him but my faithful brothers and sisters too. I carry them all in my heart.
My wilderness is dangerous but safe because I dwell between his shoulders.
So I love my wilderness because it takes me to a deeper part of you, Lord, and no one can separate me from your arms forever.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings