I would like to begin to unpack the significance of July’s unprecedented Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom by the U.S. State Department.
First, I want to reiterate the importance of this meeting. The three days provided a much needed international spotlight on the persecuted and have the potential to globally impact those who suffer silently for their faith.
I think it is fair to say that the current U.S. administration in particular, is probably most concerned with the plight of the persecuted. And because of that, this landmark Ministerial was possible.
I am grateful for the State Department and especially the man who spearheaded the event, Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom (pictured with me above at the Global Christian Persecution Summit). He recognized that now is the time for the U.S. to lead the fight against religious persecution, and help countries understand how they can have more productive societies through religious freedom.
As a Christian, Ambassador Brownback is a champion of human rights for all people and not just Christians, even though our brothers and sisters may be the greatest beneficiaries of this renewed commitment since they far outnumber any other persecuted group.
There are others, of course. And as I listened to survivors of religious persecution, I was struck by the plight of the Uyghur Muslims in China. Did you know that there are more than one million Uyghurs in concentration camps in China for their faith? Learning this was heartbreaking and a healthy reminder of the sheer magnitude of this issue globally. But even the one million Uyghurs pale in comparison to the 215 million Christians suffering throughout the world.
So what does the Ministerial mean for LumenLife and the church?
There is no question, the attention and renewed commitment will begin to reverse the tide for the persecuted and that is a really good thing. But LumenLife’s mission is to awaken the church, not the government. While I am thrilled that religious persecution is on the hearts and minds of policy makers and influencers in Washington, it is vitally important to understand the church’s God-given responsibility to care for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.
The church is not to sit back and expect the government to act on its behalf. Rather, our government – and even the global community – is poised to help support us. We, the body of Christ, have been called to lead these efforts. And when we, the church, respond in obedience to caring for the persecuted, the world will see our unity and know that Jesus is the Son of God (John 17:21-23). So not only are our brothers and sisters in Christ being rescued, but God is glorified throughout.
My prayer is for churches to be inspired by the government’s attention to the persecuted and leverage their committed support to do what the Lord told us to do: “Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (Hebrews 13:3)
Grace and peace,