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Middle East

 

Week of Prayer for the Unity of the Churches - January 2017

Message of the Regional Executive - January 2017

The youths of the Eastern Church no longer feel peace and security midst fear and worry. Perhaps, they are experiencing the continuous trials of the believer, and live every day the meaning of being a Christian believer who “…has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

Fear and worry are aggravating while the youths are trying to build their stable and affluent future. Nonetheless, all of this ongoing commotion builds this fear of the Future. Almost all of them believe that a Visa is the solution, and migration is the normal path, while staying in this East is a dangerous exception. Those who believe that the Church is independent of the land, the place, and the people in this East are led to think that it is normal to leave, while holding your own Faith, and perhaps even your own Church, and seed them elsewhere. This is their notion of preserving themselves and their churches. Sadly, many members of the Church regard this issue as normal, and do not refute it, shaping their own liturgical speech that is in harmony with this ideal, and spread it, often with no hindrance. Little by little, our notion of witnessing for the church withers, midst our parish and country, alienating the church further from its rugged environment, that same one God wanted us to witness in.

Yes. The Christian existence in the Middle East is fading midst the violence and war, the immigration and migration. When the “Christian existence” fades, the “Christian presence” diminishes. The presence is a witness and the witness is a symbol of faith. In the WSCF, and in spite of our weakness and our numerous limitations, we always try to be a voice, even if just a scream in the wilderness. We do not claim that we are “an answer” or “the answer”, nonetheless we must continue to preserve “the question”. And midst these challenges, we see the Federation continuing its path of building an ecumenical future. We are glad to see the happiness of unity in the faces of the youths participating in the Federation’s activities, that of joint prayers, of shared witness, of the dream of one united church that witnesses for the Christ in this East and in this world. From their faces we replenish our determination. From their genuine embrace, we feel the spiritual proximity between the Churches of the Eastern Church. Our youths ask us to build the “Ecumenical Base”. They call us to move forward with no fear, because God will never leave us, even if others do. If our ecumenical work is a call for Christ, we must not fall in the abyss of compromises and fear mistakes; we must witness, embrace others, and work.

If we were to express some of our anguish, we say that we are astounded by the lack of knowledge of the Ecumenical movement today, in the courts of the believers, the theologians, and members of the clergy. It is not only the general idea of it, but also its history and its major milestones. Perhaps, in some places, we are responsible for this ignorance, and we must try to bypass it.

Yes, we maintain many projects, and with God’s help, we try to involve the biggest possible number of Christian youths. We now hold a certain experience in planning and hosting these meetings, but to be frank, once these meetings end, we are unable to follow up with the youth, to be able to see how they developed, and if they shared the gained knowledge with their movements and churches. Of course we can estimate these, but we do not have specific tools to measure these axes. We notice, on the other hand, the communication between these youth participants over the social media platforms, and we are astonished by it. It keeps growing further after every meeting, and continues throughout the years.

We also face a great challenge in finding lecturers who are able to talk and express the ideals of the ecumenical movement, with all of its dimensions, its historical role in the Church, and its current one. We are also encountering difficulties in finding those who can speak deeply of women issues in the church and society, and sometimes we encounter situations where the ignorance of these important matters sees light. We walk out of the challenges and trials to stick to our path of building visions, planning projects, and attempting to fulfill them with what serves our church and its youths in witnessing for Christ in the current world which creates a continuity and an innovation.

Now that I reach the conclusion of this statement, I cannot but thank all the youths that played a crucial role in all of these accomplished activities, as well as all the friends who spent their efforts along us throughout the past year… and all of those who prayed for our endeavor. Furthermore, all of these activities, as well as the effort spent, became a reality thanks to the continuance support that our partners have generously supplied; thank you for being a shoulder to lean on! A special thank you to my dear colleague and brother, Ayman Karam , the co-regional secretary must be expressed as he continues to work hard and stand by us.

Finally, I deeply thank all my brothers and sisters, who helped in thoroughly holding this responsibility along my side. We thus raise our weaknesses and all our failure in witnessing, and we tell God: “Oh Lord, help us for in spite of everything… we are still trying.”

Elsy Wakil