When I was in high school, I had a teacher named Mr. Quiring. He was a dignified, solemn gentleman, like one of the Old Testament patriarchs without a beard, who taught upper-level English classes. It took me a few months to realize that he had a wicked sense of humor, which he expressed in short, intense bursts. He was the teacher who, during a lesson about the infinitive form of verbs, leapt from a chair and shouted, “To infinitives and beyond!”
I owe Mr. Quiring a good deal. He was part of my inspiration to study English Education. He introduced me to much of literature. He encouraged me to participate in a writing competition in which I later earned first place, earning a college scholarship and some prize money. (I only competed because Mr. Quiring offered automatic As to any of his students who participated—I never imagined I would actually win the competition!)
Although I knew him for only two years, Mr. Quiring did more than almost anyone else in the world to guide and inspire me.
There was one other way in which Mr. Quiring influenced me. He led a prayer ministry called Solidarity every Thursday that prayed for the persecuted Church: Christians who are mistreated because of their faith in Christ.
When I first heard about Solidarity, I was pretty skeptical. Sure, Christians were tossed to lions and murdered by gladiators nineteen centuries ago, but they’re not persecuted in our modern, civilized age.
I began attending Solidarity. Every week, Mr. Quiring would distribute copies of news reports, and we would read—in shocked, saddened silence we would read.
Christians are persecuted.
Christians are mocked, marginalized, robbed, raped, tortured, arrested, imprisoned and killed, simply because they’ve chosen to follow Jesus.
It seemed vague and uninteresting to me at first. True, people are being persecuted halfway across the world. How does that have to do with me?
It took time, but I gradually realized three things.
First, persecuted Christians are real people. They may seem unreal, like characters in novels or extras in movies, but persecuted Christians are living human beings with hopes, fears, plans, dreams and quirks.
Second, the problem of persecution isn’t going to go away if we ignore it. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’m really good at pretending problems don’t exist. They do exist, and something needs to be done about them.
Third, and hardest to accept, Christians are supposed to help each other. Christians in America are supposed to help Christians in the rest of the world. We’re not somehow exempt from this responsibility. We might not be able to go personally to visit imprisoned pastors in China or grieving widows in Somalia, but we can sometimes give money—and we can always pray. Even if we don’t have two pennies to rub together, we can pray for those who are persecuted.
We shouldn’t pray for persecuted Christians to make ourselves feel more righteous or less guilty. We should pray for persecuted Christians because they need our prayers. To be more precise, they need God’s answers to our prayers.
I have another blog, titled Solidarity in memory of Mr. Quiring’s prayer ministry, that posts brief summaries of persecution cases every two weeks, along with links to the news sources and suggestions on how to pray for the victims. Solidarity is meant to be an easy, practical way to stay informed and to pray.
If you’re a follower of Christ, please consider checking out the Solidarity blog and praying for the victims whose cases it reports every two weeks.
God bless you!