When I Met Them: Part 1
05/06/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Images of thousands of burnt or mutilated bodies flickered across the screen. Crying mothers and fathers stood in front of ravaged buildings. Entire communities were reduced to rubble. One of ICC’s Nigeria field staffers had just presented a slideshow depicting the brutal destruction of Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.
Silence filled the conference room.
“I have an announcement.” ICC’s field staffer from Pakistan stood up suddenly, saying, “I thought that I had seen persecution in Pakistan. But this, this is persecution.” These words came from the mouth of a man who had held the bones of Pakistani Christians who had been burned alive.
“Pakistan is a really tough country,” ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said. “Our Pakistan field staffer regularly meets with Christian victims of rape and murder. He knows persecution.”
This year, field staff from all over the world gathered in Thailand for International Christian Concern’s annual staff conference. The event had all the trappings of a normal ministry conference – training, fellowship, and worship. But under the surface, ICC’s conference is unlike any other.
Scattered throughout high-risk countries, working with victims of tragedy, the field staff live in intense isolation. They can’t talk about what they do with close friends and family. Even their church communities may not know about their jobs. Before this conference, the only contact from ICC came through weekly video calls or emails. Some of them are not able to even do that, for security reasons.
They could all get easier, less risky jobs. For them, it’s not a job. It’s a calling.
One field staffer was training to become a priest before he felt the Lord redirect his path to ICC. “I haven’t seen a burning bush, but I’ve seen burning churches, houses, and people. I know that God is calling me,” he said.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow.
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