One of my good intentions of 2019 was to launch another of my “Watch” series, this one I named “Worldwatch”. Thus inspired, I produced my first installment nearly four months ago: “Worldwatch – China, Zimbabwe, Burma” when I seemed that these were three countries where things were going on that deserved to be commented upon and it seemed right to poke my fingers in the water and let the world know what I think.
Thereafter, I had no shortage of “to do” countries where things were happening of significance, and it was my intention to do my research and regularly produce new installments of Worldwatch, but it was not to be, and whether I will do so in 2020 remains to be seen. I recall well being invited by my local Imam friend to a presentation on what was happening in the Indian state of Kashmir and being moved on many fronts. The intended posting did not happen because I wanted to do something balanced and while not all encompassing was worthy to be put before folk who read my blogs.
But the world remains my focus. I don’t regularly read a newspaper but I do follow social media and the links contained therein and a lot of that is to do with events unfolding throughout the world, including careful analysis and links to familiar news outlets as well as often diverse opinion. Some of it is overwhelming as I continually face the challenge of coming to a view. One of the concerning aspects (and the main reason for this post) and notwithstanding the baffling intersection of what is going on across the world that may seem unrelated but is, is religious persecution, especially that of Christians. One of my daily rituals is to share a posting from the Barnabas fund highlighting some item of Christian persecution and suggesting matters for prayer. Often that is the best we can do but do it we must because theologically speaking those being persecuted are family members. Nigeria is one of many countries where people suffer for their faith. In the Christmas just past we read of “EXECUTION HORROR ISIS ‘beheads 11 Christian hostages’ on Christmas Day in shocking new execution video in Nigeria” and for further background on the Nigerian situation see my “Eric Metaxas interviews Bishop Jwan Zhumbes” blog that was published less than one month ago.
I am mindful of one of the great preachers, John Wesley, who saw the world as his parish and this was backed up by his ministry to reach out to the world. It seems to me that this isn’t a bad mantra of any preacher and while my globe trotting days (other my beloved India) seem over it is one I am happy to take on board. When last week I visited Southend Christian Bookshop, I came across the book “Operation World”, now in its seventh edition (check out their website for details). I came across this when the first edition came out in 1974. I found it be an invaluable resource for trying to understand something about each nation of the world and as fuel for prayer. I appreciate that as the world changes so the book was updated to reflect. I would love there to be gatherings of believers, perhaps using Operation World as a reference guide, who will regularly pray for the world and the persecuted church. While I am reluctant when it comes to making new year resolutions, regularly praying for the countries of the world and those suffering for faith would be as good as any resolution worth keeping.
I begin 2020 saddened that Christians often fall out and opinions polarise when it comes to viewing what is going on in the world and what should be said and done. Clearly, I cannot speak for other Christians, who like me are answerable to the Lord they claim to serve, and I should refrain from criticizing publicly unless it is strictly necessary. However, in the light of what is happening in our world, often at an alarming rate, including the worldwide church’s increasing suffering, there has to be common ground between us, including recognising like Wesley that the world is our parish.