ISSUES OF FAITH: Spread peace through prayer

THE SPRING OF 2003, I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Just an amazing experience in so many ways, and here is a snippet.

I was looking for a Catholic church to go to mass one Sunday and found that I was in walking distance of the Vatican embassy.

The priest celebrating mass was a tall, handsome man. He spoke English with an accent and in the chapel that beautiful morning, I felt completely at home.

This priest was a citizen of Sri Lanka, no doubt rotating through Ethiopia for a time, and then off to another part of the world.

I would think we all know what happened in Sri Lanka this past Easter Sunday, and I couldn’t help but think of this priest and how in so many ways we are all connected in this world.

The images from the aftermath of Sri Lanka were almost too much to bear. So many children; too many beautiful children.

The Christian Post described what happened at Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa.

“Today was an Easter Sunday school at the church,” said Caroline Mahendran, a Sunday school teacher, “and we asked the children how many of you are willing to die for Christ? Everyone raised their hands. Minutes later, they came down to the main service and the blast happened. Half of the children died on the spot.”

Pictures of young girls in their First Communion dresses were particularly distressing, as was one mom cradling her son.

Do I have to look at this? Yes, I thought.

We cannot deny the reality of what is going on in our world, even though it is woefully under reported.

According to World Watch International, they estimate 200 million Christians face some type of persecution today. Respected journalist John Allen said that “the low-end estimate for the number of new Christian martyrs every year is around 8,000; while the high-end runs to 100,000. That works out to either one new martyr every hour, or every five minutes.” He called this a “human rights scourge.”

It seems in the aftermath of these atrocities, and we are not talking always about Christian martyrs, blame is assigned to some group or ideology or even a particular person, and then the dust settles, and we move on.

It’s easy to feel helpless at times and this is part of the human condition, not knowing what, if anything, to do.

God grants us the ability to act but the words of Jesus, and his actions as well, are the only way to the “way, and the truth, and the life.”

“But I tell you,” Jesus implored us, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

This does not negate action, but it does give us a better way.

Just as we communicate with our families and friends, those closest to us, we must communicate with the God who created us.

I encounter many Christians of all stripes who rarely pray.

Grace before meals is nice, but is that it? For many, yes. In truth, they’ve never really tried prayer, or given it much thought.

In turn, when prayers that are pleasing to God are answered, then don’t think of this as a “coincidence.”

Also, expand out of the orbit of personal prayer. In other words, pray for our country, our world, those who are neglected or hungry. God may call you in some way to help alleviate the struggles of so many in our own orbit, or outside it.

I was in Ethiopia at that time because of God — no other way to put it.

Jesus wept because of Lazarus; human tears, divine tears. And he weeps today we should have no doubt. But he also has given us hope in a better way, a lasting, eternal way, and really the only way.

Pray for peace with all your heart.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is mikea@olypen.com.

More in Life

During the PSHA game show at the Crosby arena in Agnew last weekend, Duncan Parks, 18, and Ed ran a blazingly fast “A” division time of 8.45 in the Keyrace. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)
HORSEPLAY: Olympic Peninsula equestrians beat the heat

ARE YOU FEELING beat by the heat? It’s sure had me feeling… Continue reading

Scribble Bots STEAM event for tweens at NOLS locations

Kids in grades 4–7 will build robots that scribble… Continue reading

Emma Weller
Former Port Angeles Roughrider graduates from Harvard

Port Angeles High School alumna Emma Weller recently graduated… Continue reading

Dan Peacock, on left, receives the 2024 Community Service Award from Lora Brabant, president of the Clallam County School Retirees Association.
Peacock receives retirees’ community service award

Dan Peacock has received the 2024 Community Service Award… Continue reading

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award.
Thomas Batey recognized

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award. Batey… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Gardening fun in the summer sun

SUMMER HAS OFFICIALLY begun, school is out, for a couple weeks the… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Living honorably is a marathon, not a sprint

THE OPENING CEREMONY of the Paris Olympics is a week away. The… Continue reading

Jamal Rahman will discuss teaching stories and sacred verses that transformed his life at 11 a.m. Sunday. Rahman will be the guest speaker at Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship speaker set

Jamal Rahman will present “Healing Extremism and Polarization” at… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Maintain Peace of… Continue reading

The Rev. Donna Little will present “The View From Here - 2024” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Unity speaker slated Sunday

The Rev. Donna Little will present “The View From… Continue reading

Repair jewelry, bicycles at Sunday event

Volunteers to show participants how to fix common items

Diane Fatzinger uses the wind phone in Sequim, located just north of the Olympic Discovery Trail on West Hendrickson Road. (Elijah Sussman/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Wind phone offers a place for therapeutic discussion

Sequim woman constructs unwired booth to speak to lost loved one