...you aren't going to like reading it... :(
Clearly, I'm very unsure about writing this; what is on my mind today is definitely not PC and could be misinterpreted easily. Also, the thoughts I want to share are disparate - not connected very well yet very much on my mind (which is pretty jumbled, even on the best of days!)
I know it will sound silly - and maybe also judgmental (although I don't mean it that way) - but I have trouble with the phrase "love me some..." Almost all my friends use it and I don't have any friends that are greedy, selfish, uncaring. All are giving and tender-hearted. So if it doesn't bother them, I know it shouldn't bother me.
But it does. The subject in that sentence is implied: [I] love me.... is really how it starts out. And I think that is one of the big problems of our society: I love me!
However, I realize the sentences that start off this way actually mean: I love ______________. But by putting the pronoun "me" early in the sentence, it paints a vivid picture in my mind. Somehow, I always turn the sentence around and see the person saying, I love this (item, thing, experience...) so much that I'm incorporating it into myself, I'm hugging it to myself, I'm loving myself by acquiring this.
Again, I respect and love all my friends and all my friends basically use this phrase. The problem I have is not with people who use it but with where it originated. Hollywood, I'm guessing. And the mainstream message that permeates our society - I'm loving me by buying, consuming, having this, that, or the other!
So... do I do that? Just ask Amazon.com...... Just ask who gets the last Hersey-with-almonds bar around here in our home!! (Always!!!) Yep, even though I don't use the phrase, I definitely live it... And perhaps that is why the concept bothers me so much: I've bought into the current mindset as much or more than anyone else.
Last night I couldn't sleep and so I was trying to pray. As the minutes slid into an hour or so, I did something out of the norm for me - I asked God what He wanted. I did this more than once because each time I threw this question into the night air, the next thing I knew, I would realize that I was thinking about what I wanted.... This happened about 4 times until I finally gave up on this type of prayer, thinking maybe I was too tired or it was too weird a request.
This morning I had a quiet time first thing - something I don't always do honestly so don't get the wrong idea here. Usually first thing in the morning, I love me some Hersey's (there! I did use it!) and then eventually get around to reading me some Scripture - but am often unable to corral my rabbity thoughts into more than arrow prayers because the day is advanced by that time and my mind is going in a thousand different directions...
But this morning, I got on my knees and tried again with the weird prayer thing. This time, I phrased it, "Lord, what is on Your heart?" I did that several times and each time, I got the same instant impression.
And the unnamed thousands they represent.
1. Youcef Nadarkhani. Iran - In prison since Oct. 2010. Sentenced to die. Guessing that's hard on his family!
2. Llmurad Nurlieve . Turkmenistan - In prison since August 2010. He's asked for a Bible to read but the authorities won't give it to him. Pretty sad... I'm looking at the Bibles on my book shelf thinking, I'd gladly give him one of mine!!!!
3. Vahhik Abrahamian. Iran - In prison since Sept. 2010. He has dual citizenship and could have left Iran after his first imprisonment to live in his native Holland but chose to stay in Iran instead. Why? So he could share Christ with the Iranian people. Pretty brave guy! Could I do that? Honestly... no.
4. Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel. Eritrea - In prison since May 2004. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University and was a professor in his country. Until he resigned that job to take up another - namely leading a Christian church. His wife and 4 kids have not been allowed to visit him. Don't think I could handle that either! Knowing that PHil was in prison somewhere and had been for 7 years and we couldn't see him???
5. Kidane Weldou. Eritrea - In prison since March 2005. During a wave of persecution against Christians in Eritrea, he and other pastors were told to keep their mouths shut about what was going on. Guess what? He didn't... He got the news to friends in the West and now there's a real possibility he's cramped into a metal shipping container for days on end at times, convinced he's forgotten. And since it's hard for me to remember where Eritrea even is and I once taught geography, I'm guessing that for the most part, he's right - he is forgotten... But not by God! (And so, I hope, not by me...)
6. Haile Nayzgi. Eritrea - In prison since May 2004. Same deal as above. Except that the charges against him have yet to be released. Ugghhh.... So much for civil rights...
7. Yang Rongli China - In prison since Nov. 2009. Scheduled to be released 2017. What's the deal there? Preaching Christ is supposed to net a 6 or 7 year sentence in China... Isn't that one year too many?? (And I imagine a year in a Chinese prison is pretty looooonnnnnnggggg)
8. Pastor Wang Xiaoguang. China - In prison since Nov. 2009. His crime? Participating in a prayer rally on SEpt. 14, 2009. I can't imagine this...
9. Y Wo Nie. Vietnam - In prison since August 2004. His wife finds it hard to get menial jobs and some days has no income. Their youngest son is often sick. Since the father is a political prisoner, I'm guessing his wife and kids are ostracized - not much help for them.... Again, I would help them.. if I could!!! (But.... do i pray for them...?)
10. Yang Xuan China - In prison since Nov. 2009. The good news is that his daughter, Esther, is allowed limited visits to her dad in prison. Also to her mom in prison. Their crime? You guessed it - participating in that iniquitous prayer rally on Sept. 14, 2009. Why didn't they do this rally thing inside the church? Because the police raided their church the day before...
11. Imran Ghafur. Pakistan. In prison since July 2009. He's using his time to study God's word and has sent a message thanking all the Christians who have been praying for him, promising that he'll deliver his thanks personally when he is released. If he is released...
12. Tohar Haydarov. Uzbekistan - In prison since March 2010. He's been charged with selling illegal drugs. HIs church says his only crime was to serve God - that he is honest and the police set him up. He's been sentenced to 10 years. He looks pretty young in his pictures.. Wondering what he'll look like when he's released...
These are the prisoners that were highlighted on the Voice of the Martyrs website "prisoner alert" page. I knew that already. I just didn't know that when I asked God what was on His heart (repeatedly - since the first time I asked, He didn't respond with "you!!!"), that every time He would answer by bringing this list to mind. I guess I just thought these were some good people with impossible-to-pronounce-names whose situations were not fun to read about. Or think about. And therefore, hard to pray about... for me, at least.
Now I know they are more than just weird names and tough situations - they are the answer to the question: God, what is on Your heart?