This week I wrote about Canon Andrew White and the situation in Iraq. Reading the news this morning, the on going sadness of the Middle East, I remembered him in my prayers alongside a verse from Isaiah, “a man of suffering and acquainted with pain”, Jesus and his followers alike.
Yet Jesus was not just a man of sorrow and neither are we. Our God who does draw close to those who suffer, has demonstrated in Jesus that there is no human pain or suffering great enough to overcome the eternal love and power of God.
Andrew White is leading a church surrounded by powers that seem determined to wipe Christianity from that place forever. He is a man who has put himself in touch with the extremes of human suffering and every last terrible episode in the history of that war torn place. Living there amongst the ordinary people of the city of Baghdad, pastor, friend and advocate, he commits himself to a heavy schedule of speaking, fund-raising, international peace work, mediation and the day to day business of church with its cycles of prayer, worship, feeding the poor, providing medicine and bringing the love of Jesus to a hostile world. Himself a man of sorrows in his own failing body, he bears the symptoms of a MS. Himself aquatinted with grief he takes on board the loss common in that place, identifying so closely with the Iraqi people, he brilliantly represents the ultimate and original man of sorrows not only in the pain but also in his stunning ability to speak hope and faith into every terrible event.
Andrew White writes this,
“At St. George’s we begin every service with the words: “Allah hu ma’na wa Ruh al-Qudas ma’na aithan.” They mean, “God is here, and His Holy Spirit is here.” This simple phrase sums up my understanding of faith under fire – that we need not live in fear because God is present and with us at all times.
When we turn to Jesus and make him the Lord of our lives, we are allowing the kingdom of God to come in all its fullness … to be a real person of faith we cannot view or attempt things from a human point of view . We have to see things as God sees them and allow Him to work through us to accomplish that which in human terms is impossible! This is the essence of supernatural living – hearing God and living in obedience to him, even when it doesn’t make logical sense.”
Andrew White’s book, Faith Under Fire, is a great read. It is part biography, part theology, part encouragement. He says that he has learnt to be cautious about the stories he tells and the ways in which he tells them, such is the degree of terror his community have seen. But he does share enough of the story for us to see a remarkable man with a remarkable God living out the gospel in partnership with others, in a way that is truly incarnation-al.
I would like to give away a copy of the book on the blog this week. To enter the give-away please comment or like on the blog or on Facebook.
If you have friends and family who may like to win the book please share this post with them.
Please continue to pray for the Middle East.