Thursday, April 12

Persecution or Poor Elocution?



(this is a) PREFACE:

Today's synchro-blog on "Persecution and Christian Suffering" was inspired by a series of awful events. One of our fellow synchro-bloggers, David Fisher, was recently removed from the leadership at his church, mostly on the basis of David's links within, and his writing in the blogosphere about the need for church-reform. I'm cheering David on, knowing that he's still taking risks to live simply and missionally, despite the pain of being misunderstood by those who are supposed to be as family.

I can remember being fifteen and feeling like a dork because I was trying to follow Jesus in a public high school. Sometimes I'd get together with my Christian cronies and talk about how we were being "persecuted for Jesus." If someone laughed at us, we could throw around the "p" word and it'd make us feel better.

A few weeks ago I got in heated discussion with a friend about gay rights. He was sure that to contend and fight that "homosexuality is a sin!" would get one "persecuted." He insisted that we shouldn't care about political correctness, and that in fact, Jesus promised we'd be persecuted! I bled out a snappy-reply, to the effect of, "that doesn't make you persecuted, that just makes you ignorant." My frustration turned to sadness when I shared through my tears about my gay friends who've been more bruised and beaten by the Church than any others. And how our pointy-fingers get in the way of introducing the real Jesus to people just as broken as we. And why don't we just as vehemently jump up and down and formulate legislation for our sick sins of greed, lust, and selfishness?

I think that we in the West have a penchant for playing the victim. And we as Christians play the victim the worst when we throw around the word, "persecution," as if it's a holy trophy. Without undermining the legitimate suffering that many have felt for the Name of Jesus in the West, I confess for all of us that all too often, our elocution concerning persecution is way off. And our poor use of language is a type of a curse towards those hundreds of thousands who are daily being tortured, beaten, and imprisoned for the Name.

I can remember being in Carpinteria for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and praying with Elise and Sarah for feeling to return to the Western church, that our comfortable numbness would die and that we'd really feel the pain that so many others in the Body feel. If only we were more connected somehow, we could really learn from each other about suffering.

Today when I read the story of a young Chinese woman on Prisoner Alert (Voice of the Martyrs), something was stirred in me. She has been imprisoned in China since 2001 for being the editor of an underground church magazine. A young woman following Jesus, trying to make words fit nicely in print. Thrown in jail, as a writer.

With a few clicks, a printer, and some stamps, Prisoner Alert helped me write an encouraging letter to the young woman, even translating it into the characters of her native tongue. As I wrote, "You are counted worthy to suffer for His name," some of the numbness left me, and I cried. But rather than seeing her as a victim, these were victory tears. For her and for Him. And even, for me, as I feel slightly more connected to my Body.

The young lady's mother reported that the prison warden has asked, "Do you have many relatives in America?" Because of this simple site, thousands of encouraging notes have been sent to her over the last 6 years, and countless prayers surround her. There are many others like her. Check out Prisoner Alert and take a minute to send an encouraging letter to someone imprisoned for the Name, to pray for them, and even send an email to a government official asking for their release.


And don't forget to check out the other synchrobloggers below...
(Clown Image HT: Peskymac)

27 comments:

John said...

Hey Jenelle,

Great post! I am tracking right with you on the gay issue. Someone once told me that when you point with the finger, three fingers are pointing right back at you! WOW powerful. I always try to make sure that any "finger-pointing" that must be done (As in, "Go and sin no more...") is HEAVILY tempered by three times as much introspective brokenness and humilty ("He who is without sin among you.....") Not mastered this by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to.

Not to take any sin lightly, we nevertheless make the homosexual issue a battlecry, and let other equally disgusiting sins go by without batting an eyelid. I have also noticed that to judge someone's sin, without ministering to the interior wounds, hurts, emotional scars and rejection that in many cases is the CAUSE of the sin is a wholly abhorent attitude to take. We therefore highlight the problem but provide no solution. Should we not rather highlight the solution rather than the problem?

Keep those blogs comin'

John

Jamie said...

Jenelle,

Great post and great encouragement for us to quit talking about our "persecution" and take the time to love and pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted.

"that doesn't make you persecuted, that just makes you ignorant."

Oh my. that made me giggle.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Jenelle,

Very good post. I've long been embarrassed when the church in the West, specifically the U.S., talks about itself as "persecuted." People in the U.S. have little clue how bad it can be in some places when one simply affirms that Jesus is Lord.

David said...

Great post!
I hear ya!

Revolution particpated in the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church a few months back and we prayed and wrote letter to prisoners around the world, being chained for their faith.

It truly puts things in perspective doesn't it?

Steve Hayes said...

One of the great temptations id to seek persecution not for Christ, but for our own self-righteousness.

That's the difference with the martyrs of Epinga, whom I mentioned in my blog. They were not killed because they were defending their right to denounce other peoples' sins, but simply because they wanted to worship God when other people thought they shouldn't and wanted to confess their own sins.

Pastor Phil said...

Jenelle,

Hello back. Your post is a huge hello to us, with a little wake-up call.

Josh Rivera said...

Wow. That puts things in perspective doesn't it. Thank you.

Jenelle said...

John,
It is a wonder to me how the homosexual issue has turned into such a battle cry. I agree with you that helping people get their emotional wounds healed should be our first priority. The trouble is, that often takes so much more prayer and time and messiness in the spiritual realm for our fix-it-fast mentalities. Fighting for emotional healing is high on my list of personal battlecries in my life, incidentally! I'm glad you brought it up...we should talk more. Lord bless you with Rest in your work out there in Gibraltar.

Jenelle said...

Jamie,
I was begin a little hot-headed at the moment when I said that. I'm still glad it made you giggle, though. Thanks for stopping by.

Jenelle said...

Adam,
I've been embarrassed by our Western haughtiness, too. Much of it coming from myself. It's gross. I sure wish we had more translators who could get books in English print from the saints in the Third World church.

Jenelle said...

David,
I wish I lived closer to Ft. Collins so I could sneak into your Revolution. It sounds so rad. The Int'l Day for the Persecuted Church was one of the most eye-opening days of my last year.

Jenelle said...

Steve,
We have so much to learn from the saints of Epinga. Your story still rings out.

Tim Abbott said...

Jenelle,

Thanks for bringing your real and practical connection with this issue to all of our attentions.
Makes me realise that we are persecuted if we truly see ourselves as a world wide body, not just us and our church mates round the corner. If one part of the body suffers, we should all feel it.
You've helped us feel it.

Sally said...

excellent post Jenelle- I'm not going to repeat what has already been said- thank you

Les said...

Excellent.

I love this line - "And how our pointy-fingers get in the way of introducing the real Jesus to people just as broken as we"

amen!!

I've added you to my list of blogs. You have encouraged me.

Jenelle said...

Josh,
Thanks for the encouragement. Great to have you join us on the synchro-blogger team!

Jenelle said...

Tim,
I think it's God's dream that the Western church would become more practically connected to the church of the Third world and Southern hemisphere. I hope we can live out his dream in some small way through writing. At least as a start!

Jenelle said...

Pastor Phil,
I like to imagine the Holy Spirit whispering "awaken" over me when I'm feeling dead tired spiritually. I really get a kick out of all of those "wake-up" metaphors these days.

Thanks so much for coordinating this Synchro-bloggy stuff!

Jenelle said...

Sally,
Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to do another syncro-b with you.

Jenelle said...

Les,
Pleased to meet you! I'm sad that I often end up having pointy-fingers at other Christians, as a result of being so irritated by them. I'm just as guilty, unfortunately.

lisa said...

i love this post but what i really want to know is where you get your great photos.

Jenelle said...

sweet Lisa,
I was waiting for someone to comment about this photo. I think it's my favorite find yet! Flikr.com, my dear, Flikr. Just search and pick a photo that isn't copyrighted and give 'em the link credit and everybody is happy. I found this one in a search for "chalkboard," thinking about the problem of using the wrong words for things.

Jenelle said...

ooops I mean Flickr.com

Jeremiah said...

I had to look up the meaning of elocution. Awesome stuff.

John Smulo said...

Jenelle,

Great post! It really bothers me how we've responded to the GLBT community. Actually my post was kinda similar to yours on this synchroblog, except that yours is a lot better :-)

Keep loving people deeply!

Jenelle said...

Jeremiah,
I appreciate the true confessions! :)

Jenelle said...

John Smu,
It really bothers me, too, how we've responded to the GLBT community. You give me way too much credit, though!