By Faith McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)
On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf sent a very important letter to church leaders around the country. He asked them to use their influence for those who are persecuted for their faith.
Wolf represents Virginia’s 10th District, but he also represents persecuted Christians and other targeted religious believers around the world. He is known for championing religious freedom and other human rights for people in Sudan, China, Egypt, Pakistan, and elsewhere. And he is also known for challenging U.S. churches to accept their responsibility and speak out on behalf of their brothers and sisters around the world.
In his January 9, 2013 letter to over 300 Protestant and Catholic leaders, Wolf revealed that in this new session of Congress he will reintroduce a bill to create a special envoy position within the State Department to advocate on behalf of religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia. His previous bill for this purpose passed overwhelmingly the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate because it was opposed by officials in the State Department and by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (slated to replace Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State).
Wolf says that he knows that “a special envoy” cannot “single-handedly solve the problem.” But, he says, “It certainly can’t hurt to have a high-level person within the State Department bureaucracy who is exclusively focused on the protection and preservation of these ancient communities.” He adds that “to do nothing is simply not an option.”
It is not just to announce the reintroduction of the bill that Wolf writes, though. “The Church globally is under assault,” he declares. He says that “we must speak out, advocate, and act on their behalf.” Sadly, Wolf admits that from his perspective, “the Church in the West, specifically in America, is failing in this regard.” Wolf challenges: Can you as a church leader help?
You can read Congressman Wolf’s entire letter to church leaders. It is a powerful and convicting epistle. And what can you do?
Well, if you are a church leader, you can take it to heart. Begin to do, or if you are already an advocate for the persecuted church – do even more passionately and frequently – the kinds of efforts Mr. Wolf suggests. Use your sphere of influence – through sermons, writing, and media interviews – to raise the profile of this issue.
If you are not a church leader, you and your fellow church members can also help to raise the profile of the global persecuted church. And you strongly can encourage your pastor to take Congressman Wolf’s words to heart. You can also encourage your own member of Congress to support Mr. Wolf’s initiative for an envoy for persecuted minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia and to become one of those members of Congress who are known for caring about international religious freedom and human rights.
Towards the end of his letter, Congressman Wolf says, “The book of Proverbs tells us to Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…The Chinese bishop under house arrest cannot speak. The North Korean believer enslaved in the gulag can’t speak. The Iraqi nun fearing for her life cannot speak.” We must be the voice for the ones such as these who cannot speak for themselves.
Read the full article at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.