Mourn first

For two nights in a row the city of Orlando has been hit with sudden and immense gun violence. There are 51 people dead and many injured between the attacks. They have left behind friends, families, spouses, children…

CkvEXhtUoAAaAuVThe inevitable will soon follow: The president does it. Congress does it. Local authorities do it. You do it. I do it. Some time this week everybody will have a front seat to the politicalization of the issue of gun violence. As a friend of mine recently said, something has to be done to slow down these attacks. Likewise, Ecclesiastes 3.1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” There will be time for public discourse on the place of weapons in our societies. These are conversations that need to happen.

But before we go there. Before we rush into debates and arguments, social media tirades and memes, and videos and articles showing the “good” gun guys over and against the “bad” gun guys (and vice versa). Before any of it: Mourn. 

A Lost Art

I don’t know if it has always been this way, but the advent of social media and world-wide connectedness has seemingly sped up our (over)reactions. The good: we get to find out what is happening half a world away the second it’s happening. The bad: we jump right into blame shifting and skip over mourning completely. Unless you are the one going through the pain, mourning has become a lost art form reserved for 45 minutes at a funeral. If it hasn’t been removed from the public, it has been overwhelmed by partisan bickering.

Mourn because God mourns

Ever since sin entered the world, God has had reason to mourn (see Genesis 6.6). His creation is corrupted by sin and He desires good and justice to come. When He came to earth, He instructed his followers to pray that His Kingdom would come and His Will would be done (Matthew 6.7-14)– death and violence have no ultimate place in God’s Kingdom.

But until His Kingdom finally ousts the kingdom of darkness, there will be misery, pain, death, murder, and injustice. Especially as believers in this God we must mourn because He mourns. As mentioned above, God mourned when sin was out of control. God mourns at the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18.32, 33.11)– even as His justice is coming to bear. God mourns when His friends are mourning the death of their loved ones (John 11.35)– in this, He is even better than those “professional mourners” whose job it is to mourn with the sorrowful. He mourns when people reject Him for their own way (Luke 19.41).

How great is our God that even though He has promised an end to this pain, He is present with people in their pain and suffering! He hears the cries of the weak and desires to be near them in their afflictions.

…(there is a) time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3.4)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12.15)

Jesus wept. (John 11.35)

Australia’s Voices

On February 1, I began an occasional look at little known ministries and people within ministry who have big things to say for Jesus. Here is the second installment.

As mentioned in my previous post, many Westerners (especially non-believers) are unaware of the persecution of Christians that goes on around the world on a daily basis. I was personally made aware of this ignorance while preparing to go to China a few years ago. I was at work talking with some co-workers about the upcoming trip when one girl asked, “So when you get there, are you going to do street preaching or something like that?” I was surprised at the question because in my narrow view everyone knew about China’s distrust of the Christian Church. It is for this, and many other reasons, that Thirteen Three exists.

Who they are

As their site says,

Thirteen Three is a youth initiative of Voice of the Martyrs Australia. Our mission is to empower and mobilise a generation of passionate youth to be bound with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ through praying, giving, writing, serving and telling others.

Thirteen Three is committed to inspiring Australian youth to live out Hebrews 13:3 by remembering persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them.”

Their ministry has committed to serving the global church– especially those who are undergoing persecution. They go on trips to serve Christians in persecuted nations by bringing Bible training, encouragement, resources, and even medical supplies and expertise to those who need it. But most of all, they are prayers and they live to lift up the specific names and issues that are going on around the world right now.

Meet Brad Konemann

Brad is the director 0f Thirteen Three. I’m blessed to have met Brad at my former Church a couple years ago and he is a great man of God. His heart for the Gospel and the Church of Christ is well seen and God has used him (and this ministry) in powerful ways throughout the world. For more information, as I have not done much justice to Brad’s Bio or the ministry in general, please see his page as well as his message from Lead 2010 (low audio quality).

Connecting

Perhaps the best way to get involved with Thirteen Three is to subscribe to their blog. Lift these brothers and sisters up in prayer as they minister to our other brothers and sisters.