When Yemen comes up in the news these days, it is often in the context of tragedy. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, civil war, the Sunni/Shia conflict, extreme poverty—all make up our ideas of this land and its people. Our news outlets suggest that Yemen is a nation that embodies the depths of human depravity and that it is run by people who lack the capacity to be civilized, intelligent, and principled in their leadership. Yemen is a failed state, they say, crippled by factions and corruption and destined for ruin. Sadly, this discourse informs not only our view of Yemen but of many other nations, lands and peoples around the world. Simply turn on your news and you will witness the pundits erect and fortify walls of hate and isolation toward those we neither know nor understand.
Lord have mercy! How are we as Christians to live in times like this? Certainly, there are threats out there that are real and frightening. Yet most of us cannot fathom the hardship and terror that men, women, and children just like us experience every day in places like Aleppo, Sana’a, and Gaza.
NT Wright explains the world as a place where “God’s future has burst into the present.” In other words, the Kingdom of God can be—and is in many places—a reality now. Wright goes on to say,
The church that is renewed by the message of Jesus’s resurrection must be the church that goes to work precisely in that space, time, and matter and claims it in advance as the place of God’s kingdom, of Jesus’s lordship, of the power of the Spirit.
Praise God! We can still experience and share the reality of God’s grace and boundless love to the world around us. This is the essence of both abundant and eternal life. God has chosen to create a new heavens and a new earth not with His own hands alone. He welcomes us to be His chief workers in the building of a world that is renewed and blessed.
When we read about places like Yemen, so many of us think it is beyond redemption, and only a few very brave (dare I say, crazy?) souls can do anything about it. Here is where the Good News “bursts into the present!” We can do something about Yemen. We can do something about Syria, ISIS, terrorism, and the hate these places represent. Here’s how:
- Earnestly pray for God’s grace and goodness to rain down upon these lands through the realization of lasting peace agreements.
- Pray that the local church, both the visible and hidden one, will have great courage to address the needs of those around them who suffer and wisdom for how they do it.
- Within our own churches and communities, hold ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters accountable to the eternal standards of the Kingdom of God, especially as they relate to how we treat refugees, Muslims, and those among them who are in need.
- Pray that we might put the priorities and concerns of God’s heart above those of any nation or kingdom on this earth, and that we might have the courage and faith to do this when it seems like the threats around us are just getting greater.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (II Corinthians 13:14) May this blessing come to pass for all of us, in lands both familiar and unknown.
Caleb Hudson (alias name) is an AFM cross-cultural worker who formerly lived in Yemen and is now ministering to Yemenis in another country.