Long ago, I had a teacher named Mr. Quiring: a dignified, solemn gentleman, like one of the Old Testament patriarchs without a beard, who taught upper-level high school English classes. His bookish manner belied a wicked sense of humor, which manifested itself in unexpected and unusual ways.
Mr. Quiring once pelted his students with Snickers bars—a rare treat in Ecuador—while bellowing “FEAST!” On another occasion, while explaining the infinitive form of verbs, he climbed onto a chair, leaped into the air and shouted, “To infinitives and beyond!” I will never forget the day he interrupted a discussion of ritual sacrifices in ancient Judaism to brandish a meat cleaver at me.
Besides his memorable jokes, I owe much to Mr. Quiring. He opened my eyes to the world of contemporary literature. Mr. Quiring also encouraged me to write a book for a contest, which won a college scholarship and motivated me to keep writing. Finally, it was Mr. Quiring who invited me to Solidarity and began to break my heart.
Solidarity was a weekly prayer meeting that met on Thursdays to focus on religious persecution. I was staggered to realize persecution isn’t a relic of bygone eras, but an ongoing tragedy. It is, in fact, a greater problem now than it has ever been.
In the years that followed, I started a prayer letter that highlighted persecution cases and offered suggestions on how to pray for the victims. I called the prayer letter Solidarity and sent it nearly every Thursday. Solidarity eventually transitioned from a prayer letter to a blog. A couple of years ago, I realized hardly anyone visited the blog, and so began updating it every two weeks instead of weekly.
For half a decade, Solidarity has existed in some form: a prayer letter, a blog, a fading hope that someone would care.
This week, after all these years, Solidarity ends.
I hate to let it go. The problem of persecution breaks my heart. I wanted to spread awareness and help people through the Solidarity blog, but I can’t keep spending hours every two weeks researching, writing and maintaining a blog no one reads. In past weeks, the blog published two posts, each representing hours of work—and received only one view.
I desperately want to help victims of religious persecution, to stand in solidarity with them, but I can’t invest so much time and effort in a project that makes no difference. Good intentions help no one. If nobody glances at the Solidarity blog, I can hardly justify keeping it.
My efforts seem to have failed, but I’m not bitter or angry. Solidarity was never a personal project, like The Eliot Papers or this blog. It was meant to be a ministry. It was meant to help people. I’m sad to see it end, and sorry it wasn’t very useful.
Solidarity may no longer exist as a blog, but I’ll use Twitter and Facebook every Thursday to share a single persecution case and request for prayer for its victims. I’ll keep up with news about religious persecution, and I’ll keep praying.
God bless you all!