The second of our talks in the 'Let the prophets speak' series plunged us into the turbulent cauldron that is the Middle East today. Mike Parker, international director of Middle East Christian Outreach, spoke with incredible insight and drew on extensive experience of working in this troubled region.
The aim of Mike's talk was to speak on behalf of the Christian community who live in the Middle East, believing they have much to teach Christians in the West about what it takes to live in a very challenging situation. He focused on what to ask God for when you are under pressure.
He chose to base his talk on Acts chapter 4 because this is among a number of passages Middle Eastern Christians use to understand what God is doing in their context. In this chapter Peter and John are threatened by the authorities and warned against any form of outreach. The response of these leaders is one of courageous defiance and when the church community is informed of their arrest and subsequent release their reaction is to unite in believing prayer.
Mike cited the example of the church in Egypt to illustrate a similar kind of faith today. Following the uprising in 2013, 10,000 Christians met in the 'Cave Church' in the 'Garbage City' region of Cairo to pray. He calls this the instinctive prayer movement of an instinctive church. Believers pray, with the church, facing reality together.
The early church prayed for boldness to keep speaking. By the end of their prayer there was a mini earthquake. Mike understood this to mean that God was delighted to hear a prayer like this in this context. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and became courageous witnesses to the risen Jesus.
Likewise, one Christian leader from the region has asked the West to pray in a similar way for the Middle East, “Please don’t pray for us. Please pray with us. If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things. You will pray for safety. You will pray that persecution will cease. But if you pray with us, you will ask God to bring millions to faith in Christ. You will pray that when the inevitable backlash comes because of our witness, we will be faithful, even if it costs us our lives" (Brother Andrew).
Following that incredible statement Mike closed his talk by encouraging us to pray as follows:
- Christians to know the Lord is king, in charge, whatever is going on
- The truth to be revealed
- Bold and fearless witness to Jesus
- The Word of God going into homes & hearts
- Peace to be brokered in Syria & Iraq
- Displaced people & churches reaching out to them
- New Christians to grow and integrate into churches
- People able and available to serve in the region