The response to Schindler’s List is
proof that the most offensive word in any language is “forget.”
What grief leaders cause when they
manipulate circumstances in order to further their own purposes,
whilst doing all they can to conceal their actions and intentions.
How can we not grieve when the western world shows itself willing to
rouse itself whenever there is a serious threat to its standard of
living, but is prepared to turn a blind eye to almost anything else?
Jewish survivors of the Holocaust deliberately did all they could to
keep the memories of family members and role models alive.18 This
determination not to hide from the stark realities of atrocities
that had been committed contrasts with the Japanese, who have been
far less forthcoming when it comes to acknowledging the magnitude of
their war crimes.
Linked as this is to the crucial need not to lose face, this long
tradition of playing matters down culminated in the Emperor of Japan
making perhaps the greatest understatements of all time when he
announced his nation’s surrender at the end of the Second World War,
declaring that the war had developed along lines “not necessarily to
Echoes of such attitudes continue to this day to be an impediment to
people coming through to maturity in Christ. Much concerted prayer
is still required for the spiritual soil in Japan to be conducive –
first for people to receive the Gospel, and then to develop as
Throughout recorded history, governments have responded to dwindling
popularity and prosperity by offloading the blame for their failings
on convenient scapegoats.20 Just as Nazi Germany followed Russia in
launching devastating pogroms against the Jewish people, so the
powers of darkness excel at stirring up at hatred between nation
states, and between different tribes and sectors within nations.
Forgetting that nothing we do passes unseen in Heaven, governing
powers that heed neither internal morality nor external checks all
too frequently end up oppressing the innocent. “A single death is a
tragedy” Joseph Stalin once cynically declared, “but a million
deaths is just a statistic.”
Three nations that come immediately to mind in this context are
Myanmar (Burma), where the military continue the horrendous ethnic
cleansing of the Karen and other minority tribes, North Korea, where
believers are suffering more acutely than in any other country in
the world, and the Congo, where more than four million people have
lost their lives as a result of the civil war21.
In the whole realm of intercession there can be no substitute to
being led by the Spirit when it comes to knowing how to respond to
events of such immense cruelty and magnitude. In Healing America’s
Wounds, John Dawson provides powerful Biblical insights, and
testimonies from around the world of how God’s people are addressing
the root causes of hatred between estranged peoples and groups, and
bringing about healing and reconciliation.22
Reflect and Pray
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the
helpless. Psalm 10:12
Survivors of genocidal episodes have to
cope not only with the immensely complicated fallout from these
atrocities, but also with the psychological challenge of adjusting
to a world bereft of familiar friends and landmarks. As one survivor
put it, “our most urgent need is to find ways to survive survival.”
Why not take this thought and turn it into prayer for all who
suddenly find themselves on their own, or in radically altered
As we direct our gaze wider, and cry out to God to intervene on
behalf of the grieving, remember the tribes in Myanmar (Burma), the
child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and the
millions of African children who find themselves obliged to raise
young siblings as the result of their parents dying of AIDS.
Prophetic Laments and the
Power of Music
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
My tears flow endlessly;
they will not stop
until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
My heart is breaking over the fate
of all the women of Jerusalem.
Lamentations 2:11, 3:49-51
Many of us spend much of our time bemoaning our lot. Although this
may give us a feeling of momentary relief, more often than not the
spirit of complaining draws us a long way away from affirming in
faith that I have a delightful inheritance because the boundary
lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). Indeed, it
sits so heavily at odds with our calling that it may actually
Read More . . .
17 Time Magazine. 14/3/94
18 By contrast, Dan Bar-on has noted an almost desperate eagerness
among many second and third generation descendants of Nazi
concentration camp guards to "move on from the past, by deliberately
not referring to it." Bar-on, D. (1995) Fear and Hope. Havard
University Press. Cambridge. By contrast, a considerable amount of
nostalgia can be found these days in the former East Germany for the
highly repressive D.D.R. - perhaps because the regime appeared to
offer people a "simpler" structure for their lives than today's more
complex free for all.
Max Hastings has written extensively on this
subject. In Okanaura, for
example, civilians were told to take their own lives rather than
fall into the hands of the American invaders. As recently as in
2007, all references to the thousands of suicides that followed the
giving of this instruction were removed from text books.
20 See Staub, E. (1989) The Roots of Evil: The Origins of
Genocide and other Group Violence. Cambridge University Press.
22 Dawson, J. Healing America's Wounds. (1995) Regal Books.
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