Growing Faith: Letter Writing Campaigns
When Daniel, a student from Oregon, heard about our letter writing campaigns, he was instantly hooked. His faith has been strengthened through his experience connecting with the persecuted church through letters. He had a project to do for school, and he found a way to incorporate letter writing into it. Here, Daniel shares his experience with us: When I first heard David’s story, I was emotionally disarmed. David, a church leader in Ethiopia (#17 on our World Watch List), was attacked by a group of men one fateful morning in his home community. Miraculously, David survived this violent attack and lives on to share his testimony of his love for Jesus Christ and the power of faith. As David so courageously asserts, “The Lord has given me another chance to serve Him. The bullets didn’t get me. There were more than 30 attackers. It is by the prayers and support of other believers we survived so far. I can only say God wants me to continue His work here. I have some unfinished business here.” These brave people often live in environments of dire poverty with high crime rates and a complete lack of religious freedom. In spite of the conditions they have to endure, these people clutch firmly onto their faith and rise above the darkness that surrounds them. What they all have in common is not just faith, but hope. I then chose to participate in a letter writing campaign with Open Doors. When I first began my project I had been given a list of people to write letters to, but I knew that I would need to do a lot of research before delving into my letter writing. I really didn’t want to commit the mistake of commenting on situations in places in the world that are very foreign to me without fully understanding the social, political and spiritual climates of the countries where my letters would ultimately be sent. So, off I went, researching places like Ethiopia and Kenya, trying to understand what it is like to live in those parts of the world and what words of encouragement could I offer to the people living there. When the time came to start drafting my letters, I found it to be less intimidating than I had initially thought. Although I struggled at first to find the right words, I quickly discovered that all I really needed to do was speak from the heart. The message I was relaying was simple, but nonetheless important: To keep trusting God no matter what life throws at you. What I discovered in the process of writing these letters was that the things I wrote didn’t just have the effect of helping the intended audience; they also had a profound effect on me at a time in my life when I have faced a number of personal crisis’s and have had my faith tested. The most profound realization I came to after engaging with those in the margins is with the right kind of mindset, I have the power to make the world a better place. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled-in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.” In the end, I found something that caused my faith to be challenged and gave me a much fuller understanding of the impact that faith, hope and the fight for social justice have on the world. I learned that these three things are closely intertwined and really can’t exist without each other. Therefore, I now understand that I have a great responsibility and opportunity to help make the world a better place through my faith and newly enlightened philosophy that hope is the driving force to all positive change in this world. It is a light that God shines down into our darkness that gives us the strength to fight for what matters; for what is true, for what is good, for what is fair and for what is right. He started out with an open mind and a willing heart. That is something that we all can have, and with God’s grace, we will begin to learn and see what life is like for the persecuted. We will develop compassion for them in incredible ways, just as Daniel has. We are so humbled by his heart for those in chains around the world, and we pray that all who read his story would be similarly challenged by God, and allow Him to beautifully interrupt their lives.