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Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Welcome to our Speaking Up for a Faithful Budget series! This is our last post in the series. Click here to view previous posts in the series.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Peacemaking is a calling from God. As Christians, we can answer that call in our relationships, our prayers, and by supporting initiatives that seek peace in our communities and around the world. Whether through Christian ministries, national governments,or NGO’s--there are a variety of opportunities for us to support those seeking justice and peace around the world, particularly in places where people are suffering for their faith.  

Some of the countries where Christians are facing the strongest persecution (Pakistan, Syria, India, Ethiopia) are places where United Nations Peacekeepers are at work. Their work helps prevent and de-escalate violence and persecution. They are not alone. Christian churches and ministries are also among those working to protect those vulnerable to persecution, whatever their faith.    

Dr. Asif Mall recently shared with the staff at the Christian Reformed Church offices about the approach of Release International, an organization based in the UK that seeks to serve persecuted Christians around the world. Release International seeks to achieve this by:

  • providing for the needs of the families of Christians who are being persecuted or have been imprisoned or killed.
  • equipping Christians to survive their persecution and its impact on their lives.
  • empowering persecuted Christians to bring Christ to those who oppose the gospel.
  • supplying Bibles and literature for church growth and evangelism.
  • and, advocating on behalf of the persecuted and oppressed.

Release International encourages communities to approach religious persecution in ways that are proactive rather than reactive--seeking to avert tragedy as well as handle the consequences of persecution. Release International’s approach is rooted in Scripture, recognizing the humanity of the enemy (Matthew 5:44), seeking to hold them accountable for the harm that they cause and reasoning with them for the purpose of cultivating the right relationship with God and one another that God intends (Luke 6).

We invite you the join us in advocating for an end to religious persecution in these three ways:
  • Pray. This is our starting point, ending point, and language for all we do in between. Below is a prayer we’ve written for use in a congregational setting.

  • Seek peace in your community. Below, we offer a study guide for small groups who want to learn and grow together in their efforts for peace.

  • Advocate for a budget that supports peacemaking efforts around the world, including efforts by the United Nations.

Prayer for Peace

God of history,

witness of the struggles within families;

we pray for the divided family around the world

as brother fights against brother,

and sister rejects sister.

We pray for those whose love of neighbour

has been destroyed in the bitterness of enmity.

May fear be submerged in compassion.

May distrust be diluted by hope,

as a vision of peace illuminates

darkened minds and hate-filled hearts.

We pray in the name of Christ,

our source of light and love. Amen.

Spirit of wisdom and grace,

the power of truth and judgement;

we pray for all who are working for peace

in the tangled conflicts around the world today.

For international leaders holding a thread of control,

for the politicians holding a thread of power,

for the religious leaders holding a thread of authority,

for the fighters holding a thread of influence,

and the citizens clinging to a thread of hope.

Bring unity through the untangled order of justice.

Bring reconciliation through truthful dialogue.

Bring new life through patient diplomacy,

determined mediation and courageous peace-making.

We pray in the name of Christ,

our source of inspiration and confidence. Amen.

http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/topical-prayers/prayers-for-syria.aspx

Study Guide for Small Groups

The Scripture that may best illustrate what it looks like to seek to stop persecution before it starts is the book of Esther. The following Bible study was written for small groups to consider how Mordecai’s strategy might be an effective tool for Christian communities to seek justice today.

The Courage of Mordecai: a Guide for Conversation on Religious Persecution

Is your small group or Bible study group interested in talking about the persecution of Christians around the world? We’ve created the following study that small groups can use to talk about the issue of religious persecution and consider ways that North American Christians can engage the issues in ways that are faithful to God’s call on us to be salt and light.

Read Esther 2:5-3:7

  1. What do we learn about Mordecai in verses 5-7? What does this tell us about him?

  2. Deuteronomy 21:18-19, Ruth 4:11, and 2 Samuel 19:8 mention the kinds of activities that took place at city gates. Why do you think Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate (verses 19-21)?

  3. What do we read that Mordecai did in verses 22-23?

  4. In light of 3:5-6, why do you think Mordecai asked Esther to hide her identity (2:10)?

Read Esther 4.

     5.     What are the reasons for Mordecai’s actions in verses 1-5 (see 3:8-11)?

     6.    How does Mordecai ask Esther to act (verses 8-14)?

     7.    How does Esther respond to Mordecai’s request (verses 15-16)?

Read Esther 5:9-14

     8.    Why does Haman dislike Mordecai (verse 13)?

     9.     What do Haman’s friends propose he do about his dislike of Mordecai (verse 14)?

Read Esther 8:1-9:4

     10.  What does Esther request in verses 5-6?

     11.  How does the king respond to Esther’s request (verses 7-8)?

     12.  What does verse 9 note about who wrote the orders and the languages of the orders?

     13.  What do verses 15, and 9:4 note about Mordecai?

General questions

     14.    What can we do to remember the suffering of Christians around the world more regularly in our prayers?

     15. What are some ways that we can advocate on behalf of Christians who are being persecuted in other parts of the world?

Advocacy Opportunity

Contact your representative here about creating a budget that supports peacemaking efforts around the world, including efforts by the United Nations. These international peacekeeping efforts are vital to preventing and de-escalating religious persecution around the globe.

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