I thought I was going to be right on time: 7:30 PM Saturday night. Arriving, I found the foyer empty and the theater packed. I was 30 minutes late to a prayer gathering for the persucuted church. A stranger in a strange church, I slipped into an empty row of bucket seats in the back, stage right.
Center stage. That’s where the focus was.
A sister was re-telling her story of deliverance from the vile acts of Boko Haram. Another brother shared of his escape from modern day Egypt. His wife and daughters riddled with bullets, evidence of religious oppression. Pictures of their frames flashed on the overhead screen. Miraculously each member of the family survivied, but with lead pellet remains penetrated into their very beings.
We offered prayers and petitions after hearing each harrowing account of danger, pain, and survival. We prayed for peace and safety, for love and salvation.
Towards the end of the evening, another sister spoke of a time past, a more peaceful time when she lived on a street called Straight. Her heart yearned to be reunited with her husband and family, to celebrate life, and to live a quiet life in her city of Damascus.
Then it struck me. Damascus was her home. The very place where the Apostle Paul was delivered from spiritual deception. The ancient settlement was still home to many believers of the Way. Was. They’d been driven from their houses, fleeing terror, death, and merciless destruction.
Instead of making preparations this Advent season in anticipation the birth of our Savior on a street called Straight, this sister is a vagabond. She spends her time ministering to her fellow countrymen, friends, and neighbors, the wondering and homeless mass of Syrian refugees. The persecuted faithful.
We prayed for this sister too. We prayed for the Syrians believers, for forgiveness and restoration. We prayed for peace in her homeland and peace in her city.
All too quickly, the evening closed in one final prayer. We were a congregation of believers, brothers and sisters from around the world gathered to beseech the mercy of our Heavenly Father.
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Katie attends Church of the Resurrection in Washington DC (http://rezchurch.org/)