At the moment I take part in a conference in Sigtuna, Sweden. We are employees of the Church of Sweden, working abroad. We work in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia. Once a year we have a conference together with staff at our head office in Uppsala, Sweden.
Yesterday we met all our colleagues in Uppsala. We were altogether 120 people. Project managers, controllers, liaison officers and a number of line managers on different levels. Our organisation is rather hierarchical. Nevertheless, it was a nice day with good talks. We prayed, singed, enjoyed good food and even had a soccer match together.
The theme for the day was “the space for civil society”. There is a trend, worldwide, that this space is shrinking. We heard examples from all over the world that governments are making it difficult for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) to work with human rights issues. Sometimes to the extent that lives are threatened. This is serious. Not only for the NGO’s as such but also for the people we work with.
When I woke up this morning it struck me that we had not linked this to the situation that many Christians experience today. I remembered that I got a message on Facebook, from the WCC, from Christians in Iraq:
An urgent prayer request from H.E. Matta Roham regarding Christian persecution in Iraq!
Please pray and share!
The crimes of the ISIS moved last Thursday all Christians from the two dioceses of:
1- Mosul City
2- St. Mathew Monastery and Nineveh Plain.
Thousands of Christian families left their homes, churches and monasteries to the safe cities of Erbil and Dahok in Kurdistan, North of IRAQ.
Our Christian sisters and brothers are in need of your help for food and other basic things for daily living.
Please help and join us in prayers.
So, this morning we prayed for the Christians in Iraq and also for the Church in Central America and the Indigenous people in these countries, as well as for the situation in South Sudan.
The space is shrinking for people all over the world. In different ways! Let us pray and work against this.
Let me end with one thing from yesterday’s presentations. One of our colleagues had heard this from a person who was part of the Soweto uprising in 1976: When the school children met, they met in churches. This was a space that was open for gatherings. When they announced place and time for the next demonstration they sang the announcement with a liturgical melody. To me this was a good way to use a shrinking space in a creative way.