Light Will Dawn in the Land of Darkness: A Call to Pray for Syria


Violence against Christians has grown increasingly fierce in Syria as reports about priests and pastors being kidnapped or killed by extremists and stories of churches, monasteries, and health clinics being ransacked or bombed abound.  Some instances of considerable note include the kidnap (and presumed murder) of two archbishops, the recent murder of a Franciscan friar, and the detonation of a bomb outside of a Greek Orthodox cathedral.  Reports of violence against Christians continue to pour in on a daily basis.

In view of this, I implore you to join me for the next three days (7/01/13-7/3/13) in a time of prayer and fasting.  We shall be praying for the following things:

  1. For the protection and safety of Christian leaders and their families (who have been especially targeted by the attackers) and lay people who continue to live and work in Syria.
  2. For an end to all violence in the region and for justice and peace to prevail.
  3. For the Lord to turn the hearts of the jihadists away from violence and to have mercy upon them.   

I’d like to draw special attention on the third item of prayer.  Many people will think I’ve lost my mind for adding this.  Why on earth should we pray for the evil men perpetrating these heinous crimes against humanity?  Shouldn’t we hope for their destruction?  Why would we care what happens to them?  . . . Because they are made in the image of God and it is God’s desire for them to repent from their evil deeds and to embrace the Way of peace and love.  Only the power of the gospel – the message of God’s love and sacrifice on behalf of His creation – can conquer the darkness which is sweeping over Syria.  Peace and life will be restored when the jihadists are transformed from messengers of hate and death into emissaries of God’s peace and love.  It’s only through our love as Christians, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that the light of Christ will outshine the blackness of mans hatred.

Our Lord set the perfect example for us – both in His teaching and in one of His last recorded acts on the cross.  In His famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught the unthinkable, He taught us to love even those who hate us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.‘  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”  (Matt. 5:43-45).  

He exemplified this teaching as he hung, suffering an excruciating death on the cross, praying for the very people who were murdering Him:  “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34).  

May we long for peace and justice but let our hearts not become hardened and filled with the same hate fueling the jihadists.  Let us join hands with the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives out of love and pray for salvation and life to flow into Syria.  Let the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled once again, as it was when Jesus first came, through the blood of the martyrs and the prayers of the saints:

“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and the shadow of death light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).  

Go Therefore and Wage a Political Cultural War, Legislating In the Name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!


The Battle for Chick-fil-AIt is time for Christians to stop thinking like politicians, to stop attempting to effect change in our culture through political legislation and activism, and to start loving people.  If the values in American society are crumbling it is because people have turned away from God and embraced Secular Humanism—and this problem, the hardening of man’s heart against God, will not be solved through polemics and legislation.  We can rally together at Chick-fil-A, draw a line in the sand, and fight for our rights to free speech; but even if we “win” this battle, it is only a temporary solution.  We are dealing with a deep sickness and attacking the problem with political activism is as ineffective as trying to heal cancer with a band-aid.  The real problem is not a political one but a spiritual one.  The real problem is that people are lost and, in consequence, held captive by vain, irrational, dehumanizing forms of worldly thinking.  While we puff ourselves up, stomp our feet, and scream about our “rights’ as American citizens, lost souls are desperately searching for meaning and love and finding it in all of the wrong places.

The truth of the matter is:  we have lost our youth.  They do not accept objective moral values, they don’t understand what truth is, and they are not interested in the Christian worldview.  They are impulsive, emotionally driven, materialistic, superficial, and have absorbed Secular Humanistic, nihilistic, thinking without even realizing it.  In about twenty years, when these kids in our illustrious high schools are doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians and entertainers, we will find that all or our political grandstanding was ultimately a waste of time.  The very democratic system that we are currently relying on to fight the “cultural war” will be turned against us in the end; because this was never a political battle in the first place—and, more to the point, truth is not determined by a vote.  So, we are faced with a choice: we can drum up huge crowds of evangelicals to eat at Chick-fil-A, to fight for our right to free speech and “take a stand for marriage;” or, we can start focusing our efforts on loving people.

When I speak of loving people I don’t mean having a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.  I mean loving them with the same self-giving, sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross.  I mean that we start truly caring for the left out, down hearted, misunderstood, people in our society.  That we stand against hate crimes against homosexuals and alongside hurting families who have had loved ones commit suicide because they were gay; that we stop drawing a line in the sand and start opening our arms.

This is not to say that we give up our values or compromise our beliefs.  It is to say that we value people more than our own right to free speech.  The fact is, Christians in America are simply scared of persecution.  Much of the political posturing we participate in is simply done out of fear:  fear of losing our right to free speech, fear of Secular Humanistic ethics dominating our legal system.  Fear, however, is contrary to the teaching of Jesus who explicitly told us not to fear and who said shocking things like: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

How many of you considered it a blessing when the media lashed out at Dan Cathy for simply making the statement that he believed in the Biblical definition of marriage?  How many of you rejoiced and were exceedingly glad when the mayor of Boston stated that Chick-fill-A was not welcome in his city?  Or, were you simply indignant, angry, and fearful?  It’s difficult for us to wrap our heads around Jesus’ teaching on persecution because, quite frankly, we have it so easy.  We are not really persecuted in America; but one day we might be if we continue waging a hopeless political battle.

A culture is made up of people; we, therefore, only effect change within a culture if the people who give life to a culture have a change of heart and mind.  People are changed by Christ, not legislation, and this only happens when Christ’s people die to themselves, start demonstrating His love to the world, and make true disciples.  Jesus said it best: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).  Please note how non political sounding Jesus’ final command to his followers was.  The kingdom of God is brought about through His people bringing the gospel to the world in a tangible way; not through manipulating the democratic political system.  Only love, the self-giving, self-sacrificial, love of the cross can change hearts, renew minds, and ultimately revive a culture.