Much of what Donald Rumsfeld calls "Old Europe" would prefer John Kerry to be our next president. They are very unhappy with President Bush and miss President Clinton. North Korea, Russia, China, and many Middle Eastern rulers would privately (or not so privately) cheer should President Bush lose in November. Folks who are either satisfied with the status quo, or at a minium, don't want the boat rocked too much.
When I thought about those who supported President Bush, I thought about those who have fresh memories of oppression. Those in Eastern Europe, who remember the heavy Soviet thumb, are rooting for President Bush. Many Iraqis, who have seen family members tortured by Saddam and his goons, fear the US could withdraw from Iraq as quickly as the Spanish should Kerry win. These too are rooting for President Bush.
I was motivated to write this post after receiving an email from a friend of mine. It has been well circulated, but originated with a man who tells of his experience at multi-denominational convention for pastors.
I recently attended the National Pastors Convention in San Diego with several thousand pastors from many different denominations. During one of the general sessions, the Master of Ceremonies introduced a pastor from Uzbekistan. He had traveled the farthest to attend the convention. I don't remember his name, and even if I did, I know I couldn't pronounce it. However, I do know this: I will never forget this man.Before posting this story, I looked up the Church of the Living Christ and called to verify the email. The woman who answered the phone verified that Rev. Lair had sent out his notes from the convention and provided additional verification.
Right away, I liked him. He was humble, sincere, and gracious. He apologized for his broken English, though I thought he spoke very well. As the MC interviewed him, he began to share about his ministry in his country that borders Afghanistan. He talked about the church he pastors of a few hundred people. He also shared how it is illegal in his country to be a Christian. You see, his church is an "underground" church. Amazingly, his city also has 3 "underground" Christian schools. He talked about how the Christians have been arrested and even killed in his country.
Then, as the interview was about to end, he began to speak very urgently and passionately. He said something to this effect: "I would like all of you to know that my church and the Christians in my country are praying that President Bush will be reelected."
I was stunned. I knew that this gathering had to include many pastors from all over the political spectrum and I was certain this would not go over well. Immediately, there were murmurings and rumblings throughout the audience and the MC seemed a little uncertain about what to do next.
However, this pastor would not be denied. Grasping the microphone firmly in his hand, he continued, "The officials in my country are afraid of President Bush, so they don't persecute Christians as much. Under Clinton it was very bad for us. Many of us were arrested, put in jail, and some were killed. With Clinton, it was very bad. But under President Bush, it has been so much better, so we are praying for him."[boldness added]
The murmuring ended. It was suddenly very quiet. The MC paused. Then he just asked us to stand and pray for this man and we did so with great passion.
Choking back tears, I was immediately struck with this realization in my heart: this coming election was not just about me or my church or my country. This coming election would affect the entire world. And while there are many Christians and churches in this country that may not support our current President, there is a group of Christians halfway around the world who are desperately praying for his reelection.
All of the sudden, the election became something very different for me. It is not just about the economy, gay marriage, or weapons of mass destruction. It's about the persecuted church around the world. As believers, what issues should be more important to us? This transcends politics. This is about the Kingdom of God! For which Christ suffered and died, and for those believers in other countries who are suffering and dying as well.
I was also convicted in my heart about praying for our President. And I wonder, which church is praying more fervently for him: the persecuted church in Uzbekistan or the prosperous church in America? It makes you think.
As the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 13:3, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Remember, this election is not just about us. It's about them.
Rev. James Lair
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Church of the Living Christ
So another group of oppressed people are literally praying for President Bush's victory this November. Come November 2, I will think of the oppressed people of the world, including the brave pastor from Uzbekistan, when I cast my vote for President Bush.
Category: Domestic Politics , Category: International