The Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA) is an annual conference in central London. Its aim is to encourage and equip Christian ministers from around the world. I was lucky enough to attend myself three years ago.
The 2012 EMA took place last week at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate. But this year there was no Nigerian delegation. Here is an extract of an email sent by one Nigerian pastor, explaining his absence:
“My Dear Brothers,
It’s a pity that I am not able to make it to the EMA this year as planned. This is because of the following reasons: 1. Last Sunday, two Churches were bombed in Zaria. and one Church was bombed in Kaduna all in the same state. As a result many lives were lost and violence broke out with more people killed. 2. The government therefore imposed a 24hrs curfew immediately. They tried to relax it on Tuesday and more killings happened so they re-imposed the 24hrs curfew. They relaxed the curfew today Sunday just for the Christians to go to the Church. We worshiped today under armed mobile police guard. WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS BECAUSE WE ARE AT RISK DAILY.”
We are so fortunate to be able to worship freely and without fear for our safety. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world are not so fortunate. In the Bible, Hebrews 13:3 tells us “to remember…those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering“. We are called to empathise, not just sympathise, with those whose faith in Jesus puts them at daily risk from repressive governments, religious militants, or sometimes even their own families.
So let’s always seek to lift our gaze above and beyond our local church concerns, and become better informed, more generous and more prayerful for the wider Church around the world. Organisations like ‘Christian Solidarity Worldwide’ and ‘Open Doors’ can help us do just that. Do take a look at their websites if you can: www.csw.org.uk and www.opendoorsuk.org.