It’s good to be back in the good old US of A. While you are away, you often think about things you are going to do upon return. So, the Fall program is in my mind. You should expect hearing very soon about what will be happening.
On another matter, being out of the country and not able to understand Spanish TV very well, you watch a lot of BBC and CNN. After a while, the news becomes disturbing:
- Our prayers need to be with those who were killed in the plane crash in Ukraine. What a horrible, senseless act that killed so many good people, many of whom were making a difference in the world. Adding to the inhumanity is the obstruction by the pro-Russian rebels of removing the bodies in a timely and dignified manner as well as hampering the investigation of the crash site. This is unbelievable!
- Another cause for concern is the rising death toll in Gaza. At this time nearly 600 Palestinian civilians have died, including many children, not to mention a number of Israeli soldiers. I have real questions whether such an action by Israel is justified in its severity. The cycle of hate, revenge, killings, and rage continues. Rather than using this as an opportunity to address grievances and work toward peace, the Israelis and Palestinians continue to escalate the conflict and deepen the hatred.
- I could go on and on about the girl students in Nigeria who still have not been rescued, or the 15 innocent people simply murdered by the Taliban yesterday, or the situation in Syria where the death toll has purportedly risen to over 150,000 lives taken, and many other such situations in the world. I can only imagine the grief and pain felt by the families who have suffered these losses. I am stunned by the new lows we are experiencing in human hatred.
As Christians in the United States we don’t feel very persecuted, although because of the radicalism of fringes we can feel the misplaced anger of many who see religion as something harmful. However, Christians in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are in fact living under the constant threat of being murdered, raped, mutilated, having their homes taken away from them, having to flee persecution. Whether you are a Coptic Christan in Egypt, an Iraqi Christian living in Mosul, a Sudanese Christian, you are in danger of losing you life, your home, your family – everything. This is not something from ancient times; it is a contemporary situation that should alert all of us who are persons of faith to pray and work toward a safer and peaceful world of tolerance.
At times we feel that there is little we can do living in the eye of the storm, huddled together in a safe haven called the United States. We are reminded over and over again by Jesus that our neighbor is not simply the person next door but the one who has a different color skin than ours, the one who speaks a different language, the one who worships a different way, or even the one who dresses differently. In other words, the whole world is our neighborhood and every person is our neighbor. Our gifts to Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran Disaster Relief, and other humanitarian organizations have an impact. Our letters to our nation’s leaders are another way to lobby on behalf of the poor and dispossessed. Our prayers keep the world in which people are suffering in our consciousness and raise them to the level of the eternal. In the end, it is all God’s work but it is our hands. May we not grow weary of praying for others and of working to change this world.