During Monday’s convocation, we got the chance to hear from three speakers, Johnnie Moore, Shaddi Abdelwahab, and Peter Holmes, about the persecuted church. Johnnie Moore, CEO of the Kairos Company and former senior vice president of communication at Liberty University, and Peter Holmes, a representative of Open Doors, opened up the convo by defining persecution and giving some chilling statistics about how common and widespread persecution of Christians is. While these statistics were discomforting, it was Shaddi’s testimony that truly expressed the horror of persecution. His story about how he and his family experienced persecution and ostracism in Egypt made persecution real in a way that faceless statistics never can. The speakers issued a call to the student body to not ignore those suffering for their faith around the world, but rather to unite with them and support them.
This was one of the most profound and emotional convocations this semester. The persecuted church is a topic that too often ignored in American churches, so it was great to see it be the main focus of convocation. Johnnie Moore has always done a fantastic job of bringing the plight of those facing persecution to our attention during his previous visits, but this was hist best message that I have seen during my time at Liberty. The other two speakers brought statistics and anecdotes that made the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ very real to us. Not only did they make us empathize with the persecuted church, they also made it clear how prevalent persecution of Christians is. It is quite easy for us in America to become complacent and ambivalent to the afflictions that other Christians experience. A convocation like Mondays really brings into focus the persecution of the church and forces us to grapple with it.
While I really liked the message of Monday’s convo, I really disliked how they ended it. Instead of ending the convocation with a call to concrete action, such as a charity or missions trip, they ended it with a social media campaign. This irritated me for two reasons. First, it advocated for ‘slacktivism’ over actual action. Slacktivism is almost never effective and often only serves to make the slacktivist feel good about themselves (Anyone remember Kony 2012? It didn’t work.). It is a substitute for real action, not a way of actually making a difference. Second, not converting the emotional and psychological energy and momentum into action or change means that all of the effort to create that energy will be lost. Not challenging the student body to make changes personally only ensures that Monday’s convocation will be like most: forgotten within a couple of weeks.
While today’s convocation was quite good, the inability to turn the message’s strength into concrete action means that it will likely have little impact.
Bible verses quoted: 2
Bible verses quoted all semester:63
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Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Liberty University leadership or administration in any way. This post is solely a matter of personal opinion. The opinions expressed here are solely my own and should be not be taken as the opinion of the University, its staff, or the student body.