Am I my brother’s keeper?
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
This short dialogue found in Genesis 4:9 poses a question for our life of prayer. Are our prayers including any of the others for whom Jesus died? Have we become like the one who prayed: “For me, my wife, our son John, his wife, we four and no more?”—a closed group of prayer subjects?
Many of our prayers naturally concern those who are closest to us: our family, our church our corps, our close community. But what of our brothers and sisters who are outside our comfort zone? Our neighbors, the people we see in shops and stores, the ones who don’t look like us, who don’t have the same accents as we do? Are they included in our circle of prayers?
This month, our territory is being invited to participate in a “Cultural Awareness Week and Reconciliation Sunday.”
All around us are people of different cultures, language and dress. When we see a woman walking down the street with her head covered with a scarf, what do we think? When we see a man of different skin color than our own, what is our emotional response? When we stand in front of a clerk and we have to listen more closely because of her accent, or when we make a call to get information on a product or telephone help that is obviously “out-sourced” and the accent is very difficult to understand, what is our reaction?
We live in a global community and nothing we can do will change it. We may try to isolate ourselves, close our ears and eyes, but it will not change our world. But in allowing ourselves to be changed, we can change the
world, even if by only one person at a time.
Cultural awareness and reconciliation starts with us—our prayer life and our willingness to try to understand and appreciate others and their cultural diversity.
Phillip Yancey in his recent book, PRAYER, Does It Make Any Difference?, includes a chapter entitled “Prayer and Others.” He writes:
“With shame I realized that during the Cold War, not once had I prayed for Russian leaders. Perceiving them as mere enemies, I never took the step of bringing them before God and asking for God’s point of view.
“What about Islamist radicals who now oppose the West with violence? What effect might it have if every Christian adopted the name of an Al-Qaeda member and prayed faithfully for that person?
“We are called to widen the orbit of God’s love, beyond friend and family and acquaintance, beyond even the boundaries of propriety and justice, to enemies themselves. We do this because God’s love already extends that far: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Jesus prayed for those who were in the act of killing him. A few months later one of Jesus’ followers faced similar straits and responded as Jesus had, praying for those who were executing him, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ Among those who heard Stephen’s haunting words was a young man named Saul, an enemy of Jesus who would become the greatest missionary of all time.”
During this month of cultural awareness, we can take advantage of this time to understand people who think and act differently than we do, learn from other cultural groups, and build new relationships.
Yes, we are our brothers’ keepers and we need to lift them before God every day!
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13)
Dear Lord, may we show our love for you by reaching out and touching others. Amen.”