Yesterday, I attended a meeting conducted by man few of my readers will of heard off. His name is Stuart Windsor, an elderly gentleman, but still with it and very active. He represents an organization (and there are a number of similar ilk) that is to do with helping those suffering persecution in various lands, often due to their religion. While Christianity is the main focus, it is not confined to religion. As far as this organization is concerned, it is not about proselytizing but rather fact finding, advocacy and raising awareness. As far as our group is concerned, we were encouraged to be better informed and to pray, spurred on by what we heard.
I found out about the meeting by accident. It was organized for Southend’s Council of Christians and Jews, although publicity was poor. Attendance was poor too; and while it was attended by a number of stalwarts I recognized, I was saddened that coming to a meeting like this when folk could find out stuff that is incredibly important was not considered a particular priority by many local Christians and Jews. Even so, I am glad I went. The organization in question is Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) (check here).
According to its “About” blurb: “Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) works in over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, defending everyone’s right to freedom of religion or belief. Three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries with severe restrictions on their religious freedom – in fact, it’s one of the most widely-violated human rights in the world. We think this is unacceptable. We’re working to change it. Our vision is of a world where everyone is free to choose their beliefs – to hold and practise any religion they like, or none at all …”
It was a fascinating time that flew by, led by an engaging speaker with many fine qualities. I brought his book: “God’s Adventurer – The story of Stuart Windsor and the Persecuted Church”, which I have started to read. What I liked about Stuart is that he is humble, funny, wise and deeply spiritual, without being partisan or pompous; he has a deep understanding of what is going on persecution wise around the world and what is going on in the world with its various nuances, and is committed to finding out and sharing the facts and to action. In his world tour he went from Pakistan, to Iran, to China, to Cuba, to North Korea (probably not in that order). While some persecution is religious based, it is not confined to Christians. Some persecution had little to do with religion and more to being seen as a threat to the authorities.
I went away informed and enlightened. I went away feeling despite moaning religious freedom is under threat in the West, it is nothing compared with what some in these countries go through, where a word out of place can lead to a death sentence. I went away trying to relate some of the momentous events taking place in the past year to worldwide persecution. I went away asking myself what it is I can do to support those persecuted for their beliefs. I went away realizing I needed to adjust my priorities and be an even better “voice for the voiceless”. I went away with renewed zeal to understand better what is going on, and to pray. I went away glad I met this amazing man, Stuart Windsor, whose actions over the years have undoubtedly helped to save many lives. My community activist interests lead me to attend a variety of events. This was one event I was glad to attend.