george hancock stefanLenten reflections intensify as we walk with Jesus Christ during Holy Week.  The hosannas of the Palm Sunday, the love commandment at the Last Supper, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, denial by Peter, abandonment by the disciples, Christ’s renunciation by the Jewish people, the torture of the crucifixion, and the glory of the resurrection make us more aware of how much we are loved by God.

As I sat down to write this column last week, I reflected on what happened at Garissa University College in Kenya.  In this Holy Week, 147 students were killed there, many of them simply because they were Christians.  The Somali al-Shabaab terrorists went into buildings and excused the Moslem students and killed all the Christian students found.

It seems that around the greatest festivities of the Christian calendar – Christmas and Easter, the enemies of Christianity, or to be more specific, the enemies of Christ, rise up against Christ in greater number and scale.

Jesus Christ predicted this.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus told us that if they have done this to him, they will do it to us as well.  He told us that if the world hated him, the world will hate us also.  Not only that, but he told us that they will rejoice and congratulate one another when they will do this to us.

When Jesus was born, the violent King Herod killed all the male children under the age of two, in an attempt to kill Jesus.  In a similar attempt, this Easter, al-Shabaab terrorists killed 147 students in their youth to snuff their testimonies for Jesus.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

When the journalists of Charlie Hebdo were massacred, President Hollande and ambassadors marched in the streets of Paris to identify with the journalists.  After the attack at Garissa University College, I didn’t hear any President or ambassador outside of Kenya speak on behalf of the slain.  There was no address from President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron, or President Hollande.

The Vatican spoke first through Father Cantalamessa, and then through the Pope, on behalf of the slain Christians and condemned the world for its silence, which continued until these days.

I did not hear the moderate Arab regimes cry out against this inhumanity.  I did not hear any imams or muftis take over the airwaves to criticize the slaughtering of the innocent in Kenya, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries.

I did not hear of any churches coming together for prayer and protest, asking our government to change its policies that it has towards global Christianity.

Worse than that, I did not do anything.  I did not call any of the radio stations, I did not call my senators, and I did not call the church for a time of prayer on behalf of the young Kenyan Christians and others that are being killed every day.

What will it take for the body of Christ to assert itself?  Assertion does not mean that we will become violent, but it means that we will claim our rights as citizens of this world.  In my mind, I hear a statement that I heard from a Jewish rabbi that unless the Christians of the 21st century learn to speak for themselves in face of persecution, they will become like the Jews of the first half of the 20th century.

Lord, wake us up to the suffering of your people and make us a voice for voiceless today!

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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...