Saturday, July 31, 2004

NOTE: On a weekly basis, I intend to post "steering word" commentaries from the Let's Talk Radio show, ZJB, Montserrat.

Here is the first in the series:

LT # 5 International current interest item:

Iraq Sovereignty Hand-over
GEM 04:06:29

On Monday June 28, TV news reports showed Mr Bush at a NATO conference in Turkey – glancing at his watch; then smiling and shaking hands with an equally beaming Mr Blair. Thus, two days ahead of schedule, Sovereignty was handed over to the new Iraqi government.

With this fresh start, the long-suffering, but now liberated people of Iraq have an opportunity to become a shining city of hope in the Middle East. For this, we should pray; as a stable, free and prosperous Iraq can go a long way towards building peace, liberty and stability in that long troubled region. Especially, we should pray for the Assyrian and Chaldean Christian minorities who are very worried that they will be oppressed and persecuted by the Muslim majority (under the dhimmi code in Islamic sharia law). Second, current reports on Christian media networks are that some churches in Iraq are “doubling and trebling” their numbers, so we need to pray for even more showers of heaven-sent revival. Third, let us pray that the new Iraq contributes to the peace of Jerusalem; Psalm 122:6 strongly encourages us to pray for the peace of that city.

But also, the Iraq crisis shows the three great global forces that we mentioned last week at work:

1. The De-christianisers – While there is obviously much room for debate on the pro/cons of the renewed heavy fighting in Iraq in March 2003 that overthrew Mr Hussein, one of the major reasons that Mr Bush and Mr Blair were so harshly attacked over the past year in the media and international forums is their evangelical Christian faith. (For instance, in a recent BBC interview Mr Blair had to DEFEND himself from the accusation that he prayed with Mr Bush! Similarly, one of the main reasons Mr Bush – who qualified as a Fighter Pilot and holds a Harvard MBA -- is often accused of being “stupid” is that he is a Christian: after all, in many an atheist’s opinion, Christian faith is merely a discredited, damaging superstition and only the weak-minded cling to it. There is another word for such prejudiced, arrogant contempt: BIGOTRY. For, in fact God has shown that he will judge all men with perfect justice, by raising Jesus from the dead: with over 500 eyewitnesses -- there is convincing proof of the truth of the gospel, if only we would humbly listen. Moreover, if one is honest, s/he will also have to admit that all of us are a strange mixture of the glory and the shame; the wise and the stupid; the good and the bad – this simply shows that while God made us in his glorious image, we are ALL fallen sinners who need to repent and be reformed. So, through Jesus let us all confess our sin and folly and seek God’s forgiveness, empowering and wisdom to do better. Let us therefore pray for Messrs. Bush and Blair [and for the many other world leaders; cf. 1 Tim 2:1 – 2] that they -- through God’s grace -- will be wise and godly statesmen: building justice, liberty, enduring and sound peace and God-blessed prosperity.)

2. Militant Islamism – Most Iraqis are Muslim, and the overwhelming majority support the rise of a truly just, peaceful and democratic government. However, as we see day by day in our headlines, a few local and foreign jihadists are using terrorist tactics to try to destabilise the new Government and create a base for spreading Taliban-like radical regimes across the ME and wider world. Let us pray that they fail, for if they get their hands on Iraq’s WMD-building capacity (and perhaps stocks left behind by Mr Hussein as well), the resulting surge in terrorism, mass-murder and war in the ME and beyond would be far beyond our worst nightmares.

3. Christian Revival and Reformation – Last week, bro Kim of S Korea was murdered – it seems, martyred -- in Iraq by Islamist militants. (Now, “martyr” is actually the Greek word for “witness.” But, 2,000 years ago, Christians who were faithful to Christ rewrote its meaning with their blood: for, as Tertullian the great C2 Christian leader from North Africa said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.) Let us pray that in Iraq and across the ME, as in Ancient Rome, revival will continue to spread as consciences and minds will be stirred to listen to the good news of the Prince of Peace; so that the sacrifice of bro Kim -- who spent his spare time witnessing to Jesus even in Iraq -- will not be in vain.

Here in Montserrat, the same three global forces are at work, and so let us be wise as we listen to news and as we think about how best to rebuild Montserrat under our SDP vision as a healthy, wholesome, prosperous, democratic and God-fearing nation.


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