Bravery brings the reward of finding God

Sometime ago I read an article written by Canon Andrew White, (Vicar of St George’s, Baghdad).  He described how Alpha courses were being run in Baghdad because so many people wanted to learn about Jesus.  He went on to state that  some of the sessions had been held in Saddam’s palace and what used to be Saddam’s throne was now the priest’s chair!  Amazingly, Alpha courses were even being held around what used to be his cabinet table.  In the rest of the article he went on to describe how God was really meeting people in their troubles.

I was very moved when he further explained that guests were so keen and eager to attend these sessions  that  they were literally prepared to risk their lives to get there. It took some of them three hours to travel just one mile because of all the check points and he said that all of his Alpha leaders had been killed over the years – every one, all eleven.  But still people came – still people were crying out for the truth of the Gospel, even if it was at the risk of their own lives.

As I read this account I couldn’t help compare how desperately people wanted to hear about Christ in Baghdad, whereas in this country, “Christianity” and “Church” is often met with complete indifference or even ridicule.  The contrast couldn’t be greater.  Many people risk their lives to find out about Jesus in Iraq, but in the UK most can’t be bothered to attend a church service even for an hour a week.  Whilst I was reflecting on this contrast a verse of Scripture came to my mind ‘God said “this is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord nor does it listen to correction.  Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.” ‘(Jeremiah ch 7 v 28). I was especially struck by the phrase “nor does it listen to correction”. 

This is the reality of the situation in the UK today.  Most people are very well aware that our nation’s problems would be solved if this country returned to its Christian roots and adhered to the Ten Commandments.  Most people are well aware that a return to the traditional laws, values and moral standards upheld in Scripture would dramatically transform our society – but they aren’t prepared to do anything about it.  Moreover those in positions of responsibility who dare to point this out are simply ignored and shouted down.  People only hear what they want to hear.

Many years ago when Egyptian troops first conquered   Nubia, an entire regiment was destroyed by thirst while crossing the Nubian dessert.  The soldiers spotted what they believed to be a beautiful lake on the horizon.  They insisted on being taken to its banks by their Arab guide.  It was in vain that the guide assured them that the lake was unreal.  He refused to lose precious time by wandering from his course.  Words led to blows because they didn’t like his advice and he was then killed by the soldiers whose lives depended upon his guidance.  

This aptly illustrates the situation in Britain today.  Those who guide individuals to take the Bible seriously – with its teaching on moral standards, judgement and our personal accountability before God, are often ridiculed and ignored.  To suggest that praying, reading the Bible and church attendance is vital is regarded as a bridge too far.  Instead of listening to uncomfortable words which if acted upon would actually make a difference, many would rather listen to empty words and platitudes.  Let us this day make sure that we really do listen to God’s Voice and take Him seriously.  Let us hear what the Bible really has to say to us rather than push it to one side.  May it be to us “a life or death issue” to  come to know Jesus personally,  make our peace with Him, learn about His ways and apply His teachings to our daily lives.  If we do this sincerely, joy and hope will fill our hearts and we will begin to see why those in Baghdad are wiling to risk their all to find the living Christ.