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Faces Not Flags, by Phil Ware Phil Ware

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    214 Feared Dead in Flight 990 tragedy, Over 100 of them Americans

    That was the teaser on the radio before they broke for commercials. There was something irritating about that phrase, but I couldn’t quite place it at first. It was what I sometimes call Holy Spirit heartburn (that greasy feeling we get when the Holy Spirit convicts us that something is wrong that we might otherwise accept). Then it dawned on me what the irritation was.

    The way US news service phrase disaster headlines is so self-serving and ethnocentric. Tragedies get no airtime if there are no United States citizens killed. We scrape away the concern for people and their families as easily as we clean the bugs off our windshield if they’re not Americans. It as if the quicker we get the mess out of our line of sight, the more easily we can slip back into our comfort zone and go about our daily routines.

    I hate that attitude! I refuse to brush away the death of someone simply because they are not from my country, race, culture, or socioeconomic group. I know we can’t let every human tragedy in our huge interconnected world emotionally devastate us, but to dismiss a tragedy because the people involved are not like “us” is sick.

To dismiss a tragedy because the people involved are not like “us” is sick.
    When the Iran Hostage situation was raging, the leaders of the Northwest Church in Seattle gathered for prayer. While they prayed for the release of the hostages, they also asked God to open the door for them to minister and protect the Arab and Iranian students from misguided “vigilantes.” Over the course of the crisis, American Christian students accompanied Arab and Iranian students to class to prevent trouble. Rather than getting caught up in the ethnic hype and hate, they redeemed a horrible situation and even led some to Christ.

    As Christians, our hearts yearn for people of all of all races, nationalities, languages, and cultures to come to Christ (read Revelation 7). When disaster strikes and lives are lost, rather than listening for number of casualties that are like the, they remember that God made all of us brothers and sisters through Adam. With that in mind, let’s realize there are some practical things we can do to be a blessing in these times of tragedy.

  1. Pray for the victims and their families in our personal prayer time and in our churches and Bible study groups.
  2. Use this tragedy as a reminder to be more aware of people of other cultures around us and make an effort to warmly greet them and include them in our activities and fellowship.
  3. Pray for God to use us to share the love of Christ with those who don’t know him, especially those of different cultures, and especially to those in crisis.
  4. If we are given an opportunity to serve those grieving or injured, let’s find ways to serve them lovingly and generously.
  5. Intervene and protect others of different cultures and races if they are caught in a difficult situations when in our presence or sphere of influence.
  6. Encourage our church leaders to support missions to other races and cultures, whether the communities are nearby or far away.
  7. Learn about at least one other culture and explore ways of effectively sharing the Gospel of Jesus with those cultures while respecting their heritage.

    You see, God was concerned with all 214 people who perished on Flight 990, not just the 100+ Americans. God longs to comfort the hundreds of grieving relatives left behind by this tragedy. And God has put us here to be his means of comforting, blessing, and healing those who hurt by of this and other tragedies.


HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
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