May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, so you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe you can make a difference in the world, so you can do what others claim cannot be done.
– Franciscan Prayer
A woman stopped into church today with a flier she wanted us to post. It’s for a prayer vigil for Pastor Saeed Abedini, a reformed pastor in Iran who has been in a horrible prison since September 26, 2012, because of his faith. Folks in our church have asked for prayers for Pastor Saeed several times, I told her. They would want to know. So I have joined her Facebook group, Nebraska Prays for Pastor Saeed and the Persecuted Church, to get regular updates and to join with others who are praying for his release.
September 26, 2014, will mark two years of imprisonment for him and there will be a prayer gathering in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the west plaza of the capitol at 7:00 p.m. People across the world will be praying for his release. If it is possible for me to attend I will, but I will also honor her request to let as many people know as possible. You can read more about it here:
She was directed to me because of my heart for the people and the church in the Middle East, now under pressure in so many places. She seemed weary with her task. She had tried at her previous church and her current church to get the word out. One response was, “That’s the weekend of the men’s retreat.” That’s nice. Maybe the men of a church in Omaha could devote a small period of time during their retreat to pray for a brother imprisoned in another land for shepherding others who declare faith in Jesus. Or maybe not.
She seemed weary and said, “I’m just one person.” And that is where I tried to encourage her. “You are one person called by God for this purpose!” He doesn’t call the equipped, so the saying goes, he equips the called.
I am just one person, too. And yet God has placed a huge vision on my heart to help bring relief to the church in Syria and in Iraq in their work with refugees.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of instruction.” (That is quoted from the Aramaic Bible in plain English. If Aramaic was good enough for Jesus, it humbles me to quote it here.)
He has taken my former timid, shy, scared self and given me power and love to do his work. I am walking into that these days with my big project. I have been bold to ask those gifted in ways I am not to help, and they have said “yes.” I may be only one woman, but I have the gift of community and I believe this project will succeed because it is not my vision, but God’s.
God has blessed me in the ways that the Franciscan prayer above puts into words. My tears don’t stop, my anger builds, I have grievous discomfort over what I see and read on the news every day. And I am foolish enough to believe that one woman can make a difference.