Metropolitan Saba (Esber) from Syria talks about how Christians can change the world around them. It is not about their number, but about their faith and personal example. In this lecture he was addressing the difficult and important question for the Christians in Middle East: stay here or leave for a better life abroad?
Metropolitan Saba (Esber) of Bosra, Horan and Jebel El-Arab:
I’m present here [in Syria] because God wanted me here, if not, I would have been born in another country. So He has a purpose… As a Christian, I’m present here in order for Christ to remain here.
If we make a statistic, how many Christians think in this way? Christ is present because I’m present, because I’m His body. So my presence, my stay or my escape has to do with my faith, has to do with my relationship with Christ. It has to do with my salvation, my own salvation as a Christian as a faithful one, not just my salvation from violence, because in the end I will die wherever I go… But there is an eternal life. Eternal life is what designs/shapes my life here.
Christians today shape their eternal life here. Beginning from here we decide our life there. But we are not thinking about our eternal life…
So this standpoint of faith – if we are truly Christian – is what determines whether or not to stay or remain… We are a group of witnesses of Christ this is what He wanted us to be: “you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) If we exempt ourselves from being witnesses then we have the right to ask whatever we want (meaning exempt from being Christians).
Martyrdom (or testimony ) has a price, are we willing to pay it? Witnesses and martyrs, our presence is coherent, not mixed but coherent. It is for us to be witnesses of Christ in every aspects of our life. If we exempt ourselves from this testimony, then the question becomes valid.
We also need to get out from the mentality of numbers… Our effect, our impact, and our role is not through our number, it is through our active and effective presence, through our CHRISTIAN effective presence, not our social Christian presence, but our faithful active presence. We need to get out of the mentality of numbers and focus on our Christian teaching, on the fact that we are “salt”. In East we are not the cooked food but the salt of the food. But salt has an effect, has an impact, it has a preservative role.
Where is our role and how are we achieving/playing it? Our survival and permanence in this land depends on how capable we are to place ourselves in God’s hands so that He leads this history by us and through us to the coming generations. As Christians we can’t ask this question except from this standpoint of faith or else we would be disloyal (traitors) to Christ and to the gospel…