Advocacy


One of the most frequent questions I’m faced with in advocacy and awareness raising work is: “Why?”

It can be very difficult to come up with an answer or to begin to attempt to explain how a repressive regime or a dictator “thinks”.

There is a great quote today in the Washington Post (which has been doing some fantastic coverage of Cuba recently) by Yoani Sánchez, the internationally recognized blogger responsible for Generacion Y (and long time friend of Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and Yoaxis Marcheco, who have featured frequently on this blog). She’s talking specifically about Cuba, but her comment applies to pretty much every repressive regime I’ve come across:

Ms. Sánchez reminded us that such arbitrariness is characteristic of authoritarianism. “It is hard to think like a repressor, if you have never been one,” she said. “They have their own logic. One of the most paralyzing elements of the Cuban repression is its illogical nature.”

Click here for the full article.

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Once upon a time there was a people who lived in the misty hills and cool mountaintops of a distant land. Although they were the same people, from hamlet to hamlet and valley to valley they spoke many languages and dialects. They could not understand one another.

They shared a belief however, in The Almighty One, who was over all things. To honor Him, they placed large stones and wooden poles in the high places – so that they would be visible to all who lived in that land.

More than one hundred years ago, some men and women who were not from there arrived. They said they had come to share good news. The elders recognized the Almighty One of whom the strangers spoke. They embraced this good news. Although they still could not always understand one another, this good news united their people, and they were one.

On the high places they built crosses, twenty and thirty feet tall, to remind themselves that their land was under Christ and they were all His people.

Then some other people came. They were from the same country, although from a different people. They came from the plains with different beliefs and they were the rulers over the hill people. In the space of twenty-five years they established fifty-four military bases in the hill lands. With the military bases came violence and rape and fear.

The rulers said that all of the people in the country must be the same: one country, one religion, one language. There could be no differences. One by one, they destroyed the crosses that had stood upon the high places. They forced the people, even the children and the elderly, to carry bricks to build shrines to the other religion. They placed loudspeakers so that the valleys and mountainsides would ring with the sound of the other prayers. They said this way the people would know that their land did not belong to Christ.

They told the people they could not build churches. They would not allow them to repair their old ones and the buildings crumbled. They told the people they had to request permission to hold religious celebrations and Bible camps. The people requested permission but their requests went unanswered.

Then the rulers sent men to the poorest villages. These men told the people there that they would give their children an education. They would give their parents bags of rice and oil and clothes if they would permit them to take their children to their schools. The children had no other chance of an education and the parents thought that this was good.

They did not know that when the little children arrived at the school, they would be forbidden from speaking their language. They did not know that the children would be forced to recite scriptures from the other religion and beaten with sticks if they made a mistake. They did not know they would be stopped from giving thanks to the Almighty One before they ate. They did not know that their children would be forced to convert to the other religion, and if they refused they would be sent to the military, to the front lines, to be killed. They did not know that the purpose of the schools was to eradicate their culture, their faith, their heritage, their identity.

A young man from the hills saw his people suffering. His grandfather and father were pastors but they told him he could serve the Almighty One is other ways. He traveled for eight months through the land, hiding from the rulers and the soldiers, and wrote down the stories of his people. Then he left his land and he journeyed to distant countries to tell others about what was happening and to ask them to help.

Now he is in the land from whence came the first foreigners bringing the good news. He is asking us to stand with his people again. He is asking us not to forget his people and others like them. He is asking our rulers to remember them and to help them.

“Surely,” he says, “the Almighty One is God over the hills, but He is also the God of the people of the plains and He can reach them.” (I Kings 20)

Pray for Burma and for all of its peoples. Pray for the Chin. Pray for the delegation that is traveling to raise awareness of the suffering of their people. Pray for true freedom, including religious freedom, for the Burmese, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Shan, Kachin, Rohingya, and Chin.

Read the report documenting the persecution of ethnic Chin Christians in Burma

Chin Christians praying for forgiveness over a destroyed hill cross. Photo courtesy of Chin Human Rights Organisation www.chro.ca

Chin Christians praying for forgiveness over a destroyed hill cross. Photo courtesy of Chin Human Rights Organisation http://www.chro.ca

“The truth ain’t like puppies: a bunch running around and you pick your favorite. One truth! And it has come a knockin’!” Emerson Cod; Pushing Daisies

Truth is what we do at my organization. It isn’t always easy to find out what the truth actually is – but we are called to investigate, weigh up, analyze and then make sure that truth is exposed, using discernment to choose the most constructive form of exposure (choosing the most constructive way to expose the truth is a good way to deal with the truth generally – i.e. avoid telling the truth in a way that is unnecessarily hurtful). But it goes beyond that; truth should also be integral to our every interaction. We must be truthful to our colleagues, those in authority over us and those under our authority, to our enemies, to our friends, to our families – to acquaintances and strangers alike. That means admitting it when we aren’t sure what the truth is.

Our concern with truth is an inevitable expression of our concern with God. If God exists then he is the measure of all things, and what he thinks about all things is the measure of what we should think. Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true is not of God. What is false is anti-God. Indifference to the truth is indifference to the mind of God. Pretense is rebellion against reality and what really makes reality is God. Our concern with truth is simply an echo of our concern with God.
By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Here is one of the big reasons: Kenia Denis

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

First apologies for not having written much lately and more apologies because I’m not going to write much now. Things have been crazily busy, in a good way, over the past three months but am hoping that in the next few days or weeks I’ll have more time to sit down and write about some of the things I’ve had on my mind.

Today, however, I just want to share something. Communication in many of the countries in which we work is difficult. One of mine is notoriously difficult for geographical, political and technological reasons but much like the Biblical salt – I have a handful of trustworthy individuals scattered throughout the country who try, when they can, to pass on to me information about cases of persecution they know or hear about. Many of them have experienced the effects of worldwide solidarity in the form of prayer and letter writing themselves, and they know it works.

One of them has worked at various churches in different parts of the country but always seems to be assigned to fairly remote places, cut off from the rest of the country and even more so from the outside world. I don’t hear from him that often, but when I do, it’s usually a short message requesting urgent prayer or action. It always makes me think of a Hail Mary (non American Football people, click on the link for an explanation). He throws it out of there, I try not to fumble it and (the analogy stops here) pass it on to as many praying and acting people as I can.

I don’t usually expect much feedback because I know the limitations. Communication inside the country is also difficult to the point of being non-existent sometimes, so he doesn’t expect much feedback from those he’s tried to help either. The most severe cases tend to happen in very remote and rural areas, compounding the difficulty of following up.

So, imagine my surprise and joy, when yesterday I received this message:

Dear BV,

Last night there was a concert, authorized by the Government in the second largest theater in [the country]. The *** Theater.

It was truly historic.

But listen to this story…

A pastor approached me and asked me, “Are you ***? You don’t know me,” he said.

I didn’t recognize him even when he told me his name…

It turns out that years ago his church was threatened with demolition…I asked you for worldwide prayer for him…

We never met each other, not even on the telephone.

Seven years later, he testified to me that they never touched him again…

Hugs,

***

So today I give thanks for answered prayers. I give thanks that seven years ago I was able to be a little cog in the wheel that turned on behalf of this church. I give thanks for this pastor’s understanding of how the worldwide Body of Christ supported his church during their hour of need. I give thanks for his faithfulness in remembering and blessing that same Body, seven years later. I give thanks for our great God who loves us, strengthens us to love one another, and makes a way when there is no way.

Great article on the longer term impact of anti-Christian violence in India and ongoing injustice.

The widows of Kandhamal – Huffington Post UK.

Advocacy as collaboration.

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