Over the past six months, I have written about many difficult situations, but two in particular – the huge influx of Central American immigrants into our country and the fate of the Anglican Church in Baghdad. I have asked you to join me in prayer many times. Prayer works and to demonstrate that once again, I want to share with you some inspiring events.
Laura Shaver, with... the Episcopal News Service, reported from the Diocese of West Texas that the number of illegal border crossings has significantly decreased. At the same time incredible things have happened to support churches that help those in need. St. John’s Episcopal in McAllen has been overwhelmed with financial and human support. It takes 100 volunteers to help the 150 refugees who enter their parish every day seeking help. Despite that influx, the church was able to assist because, according to Rev. Nelson, “We have overproduced.” As a result, he took a $20,000 check to the Salvation Army on behalf of the diocese. That donation caused the Salvation Army office manager to break into tears. They had been praying for $20,000 to cover the budget shortfall created by the sudden influx. Another check for the same amount went to the local food bank that same day. The sudden downturn in border crossings is giving various entities, like Catholic Charities, the Episcopal Church, multiple food banks and others the opportunity to become well-stocked to help others.
The other story comes from the beleaguered Anglican community in northern Baghdad. The Rev. Andrew White told the Anglican Communion News Source that the threat posed by ISIS is, ironically, a major reason believers want to undergo baptism. He said, “People really want to demonstrate their faith and that is good.” As you may be aware, publicly identifying oneself as a Christian is a dangerous and courageous move in Iraq. Rev. White baptized a family on October 1st. One of the children came up to him after the ceremony and said, “I feel like a new person now,” to which the priest replied, “You are.”
Until recently, St. George’s Anglican, Baghdad, had a congregation numbering around 1,000. This past Sunday, they had only 160 at worship because so many have fled to the north. Yet St. George’s, with support from Anglicans/Episcopalians around the globe is receiving prayers and much needed material support.
Something about need makes believers turn to action. The need in Texas started the process to provide basic necessities. And, the beyond-horrible atrocities of ISIS are turning hearts to the love of Christ and baptism into his Body. Nevertheless, there is something greater here than human action – it’s the power of the Holy Spirit working through prayer and love and a growing sense that we are all one. Although we may not all be of one mind about what to do with Central American refugees or how to respond to ISIS, we are getting the idea that the children and adults caught in the middle are our brothers and sisters. And this too is a mark of the Spirit – unity.
May the Spirit who brings checks to needy food banks by motivating givers to act, the Spirit who heals and protects, and the Spirit who makes us one, be with all those in need.