The recently-elected Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) the Most Rev. Foley Beach has issued a call to prayer and action on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. The call, entitled “We must not be silent,” was released on Sunday and can be read on the ACNA’s website. The letter focuses in particular on the suffering of Christians in Syria and Iraq at the hands of Islamic militants, and calls on Western Christians to take action.
The Archbishop begins by listing the numerous atrocities carried out against Christians in recent month, including mass murder, the kidnapping and forced marriage of young women, the destruction of holy sites and churches “in the name of Allah,” and the displacement of millions. He didn’t pull punches when it came to naming and denouncing the perpetrators. “This brutality is being led by a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Their goal is to reinstate the Islamic caliphate and rule the whole of the Middle East and eventually the world by Sharia Law. Their tactics are pure evil, and they will stop at nothing to accomplish their purposes.”
Archbishop Beach also had strong words for Western media and politicians, who he accused of ignoring the plight of Middle Eastern Christians. “As Christians in the West, it is appalling how most of our government leaders and the secular press have been silent.” Archbishop Beach writes, “It is a genocide and humanitarian crisis of the likes we have not seen since World War II.”
The Archbishop called on Christians to take part in three actions; first, to pray for persecuted Christians and their persecutors alike, second, to write and call government representatives to urge them to help the situation, and third, to offer prayers and support to organizations supporting Christian refugees. In particular, Archbishop Beach recommended the Barnabas Fund, the Voice of Ishmael (via Commission to Every Nation), and Christ Church Jerusalem, which has been ministering to refugees.
Archbishop Beach, who was elected this June by a conclave of ACNA bishops, has previously been vocal about the need to address violence against Christians. Earlier this year, then-Bishop Beach was one of 41 Anglican bishops to sign a “Pledge of Solidarity and Call to Action” highlighting the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. In an interview shortly after his election, Archbishop Beach told IRD’s Anglican Action director Jeff Walton that American Anglicans need to do more to address the issue. “Obviously prayer [is needed], but where we can influence public policy in the U.S. and Canada, we should be trying to do so. Sadly, our public policy overseas has undermined our friends and allowed a lot of this to happen.”
With hundreds of millions of Christians facing religious persecution on a daily basis, it is heartening to see a denominational leader giving the issue the attention it demands. What’s more, it’s heartening to see a Christian leader explicitly call out the silence of Western elites and the Islamist nature of the oppression in the Middle East. I urge Christians to take up Archbishop Beach’s call to prayer to action, but perhaps add a prayer that other denominations and leaders would issue similar statements.
Here are the sample prayers listed in the call to prayer:
Heavenly Father, we bring before you today the people of Syria and Iraq, asking you to be their defender and help in their time of need. Walk with them in their suffering and loss, and give them strength to face the days ahead. We pray for release of the captives and freedom for those held hostage. We pray for your intervention against the violence and evil against your people. We pray for your provision for the hungry, the homeless, and the bereaved. We pray for you to help your people who are called by your Name, Jesus’ Name, and it is in His Name we ask these things. Amen.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to
love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to
truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge;
and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Edited from the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of
the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to
those who are far off and to those who are near:
Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, especially in Syria and Iraq; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Comment by virginiagentleman on August 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm
Well, this is a welcomed alternative to the comments made by the TEC Presiding Bishop, UMC Bishops, PCUSA Stated Clerk and other worthies from the declining Mainliners. May the ACNA increase and Bishop Beach flourish!