It’s very often not the case that we simply don’t care about our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters across the world. The problem is often that we feel helpless and overwhelmed by the terrible situations they are in, and we don’t know what we can do to help them.
Still, that is no excuse to ignore their plight. We are one Christian family across the globe and we should not stay silent in the face of their enormous sacrifices and sufferings.
But what can we do to help them?
Thankfully there are two amazing campaigns orchestrated by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need which you can get involved in.
1. The day of 22nd November 2017: Red Wednesday.
Aid to the Church in Need explains on their website that:
“Red is the Christian colour of martyrdom. Christians are the most persecuted faith group in today’s world and #RedWednesday will honour all Christians who suffer and die for their faithfulness to Christ’s message of peace and love.
#RedWednesday will shine a light on Christian persecution but also highlight the injustices perpetrated against other faith groups.”
ACN ask that people wear red on 22nd November, to stand in solidarity with Christians who are willing to pay, and do pay, the ultimate price for their faith. Some churches (maybe yours could get involved too?) will be lighting up their entire buildings red on this day. Imagine the witness and impact a blood-red church building will have against the winter-night sky. Reports show that the most persecuted faith in the world is Christianity, and yet atrocities against Christians are so rarely reported. Red Wednesday is one way of really raising the profile of these horrendous persecutions.
If you are based in the UK, then there are plenty of Red Wednesday events that you can attend and you can find them all here. If you are anywhere else in the world, you can still get involved by forming your own event, wearing red or by getting involved on social media! Maybe you could change your profile picture to a red square, or share one of the many videos or resources that can be found from the ACN website. You can use the hashtag #RedWednesday.
Whatever you choose to do, find a way to raise awareness of Christian persecution with those around you. You can also consider donating to ACN if that is possible for you, and most definitely pray for those who are suffering. Pray also that those perpetrating these persecutions will have a change of heart.
2. The poignant “Go to Mass for Someone Who Can’t” campaign. (#Go2Mass)
The idea behind this is that we, who are so blessed to be safe and free to go to Mass without any recriminations, use our freedom to attend one extra Mass than we would normally for those who are unable to do so due to persecution. So, if you don’t usually go to a weekday Mass, make the extra effort to attend a daily Mass. If you don’t usually go to Mass on Sunday, you can use this opportunity to return to church on a Sunday soon for the sake of those who are unable to. Perhaps you are already able to attend Mass each day, if so, consciously offer up one of your daily Masses for those who are unable to attend Mass themselves.
“Aid to the Church in Need is asking every Catholic to make the small sacrifice of going to one extra Mass to pray for one of the 200 million Christians who are facing the threat of persecution for their faith and even risking death to receive Jesus in The Eucharist. It is time for us to re-discover that “most powerful force in human history is prayer joined to sacrifice.” – St Pope John Paul II.”
In deciding on going to an extra Mass for those who can’t, perhaps you could choose a particular country that you will go on behalf of, and research the situation for Christians there before you attend Mass. You can use this interactive map to help you.
If you are able to and want to, you can also take a selfie outside the church you’re at, and using the hashtag #Go2Mass, upload your photo onto social media adding the details of your intention.
For example, you could say “I went to Mass today for:…
…Christians in labour camps in North Korea
…kidnapped priests in Nigeria
…an end to Isis
…Iraqi Christians urgently wanting to go back to their homelands
…the work of Sister Annie and her volunteers in Aleppo
…Christians unjustly imprisoned in Eritrea”
Or mention any other country, family or area that has particularly touched your heart. By sharing it on social media you are raising the awareness of little-known sufferings, as well as witnessing to the incredible power of the Mass. The Eucharist unites each one of us, and God can use our small, limited, but still heartfelt sacrifices in enormously powerful ways. We can absolutely trust that He will.
“Since this act [the Crucifixion] transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within, the Resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded, so that it can no longer have the last word… Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little will change the the world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Heart of the Christian Life).