I recently posted an article from Christianity Today in our Campus’ Facebook group and I wanted to follow up on that. You can only throw so much out through a Facebook post, you know.
The article took a quick look at Myanmar, the government landscape, the religious landscape, several people groups, and shared about how all of those in the country and out of the country interact. There are refugees involved, the chances of persecution, the Pope is also mentioned, but realistically his part in the article is just a part of a much bigger story.
You an read that article here – Can Pope Francis Help Myanmar’s Muslims Without Hurting Its Christians?
One thing of note about the article, for me, is that this story isn’t new. It’s not even a little bit new. Yes, the people are different and the arguments only sound similar to me, not exact, but this a human story.
The day after sharing the article I sat down to keep reading through Acts and I started in chapter 22. What Paul experiences sounds very similar to the article.
There is the question of religious nationalism, something that we may as well point out. It is increasing around the world and people (both Christians and just about everyone else) are becoming refugees of it. The people group mentioned by name in the article is Rohingya – Muslim refugees. You can read more about their plight here in CT. About half of their total population remain as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. You also see pressure from different places. In Acts you have the Roman officials – some trying to figure out how to act rightly in the situation and others hoping to profit from it, trading favors with the other parties. It would make for great fiction, but its not. This is what we are like when we get together without respect and honor for one another.
This is the world that Jesus walked into when He came so long ago. This is the world He prepared His disciples for. This is the world that He died for. And, this is the world He sent Holy Spirit into.
In the chapters following 22 Paul gives a defense for the charges brought against him.
Paul shares that everyone back home knew what he was like, strictly following the rules and persecuting the believers of Jesus. Then, he met Jesus on the road to persecute more of Jesus followers. This Jesus called Paul follow Him and share His good news. Now, everyone knows that Paul does this.
As Paul declares his faith in the resurrection to King Agrippa, the same faith he says the prophets and Moses speaks of being fulfilled in Jesus, the Roman Governor interrupts him, yelling, “Paul, you are out of your mind!”
Paul responds in respect and kindness, sharing his intent that he would have everyone hearing this be the same as he is – except for the chains.
Once again, this would be beautiful fiction, filled with intrigue, repeated characters, back story, etc., only, it is all those things and true.
We see this story repeated throughout the history of the church and those who follow Jesus. The irony of it is that this apparently powerless citizen is looking at the powerful authorities before him. Neither of them created their respective powers, they were both present in another’s achievement. For Agrippa and Festus this is the great Roman empire. For Paul this is Jesus and His resurrection.
Only one of those movements still stands and moves today, and is no less miraculous. Rome is not known for an emperor of great military might, but a Pope seeking mercy on behalf of others.
Likewise, as followers of Jesus, we can all seek after God and do so on behalf of others. We can pray, we can learn, we can go. The Rohingya is one group of refugees among many and Myanmar is one country among many.
May God’s favor and miraculous grace rest on those seeking to help, those in need, and all of those present and watching from afar. May God bless the Rohingya and Myanmar.
About Discipleship Training School
This January and in the coming years we are offering the DTS in Ogden, UT. What God did through the DTS changed me from a person who only cared about his own state and country to a person who cares about the nations.
You can read more about that here – Utah Discipleship Training School.