“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 4 v 6
On the evening of Monday 22nd May 2017, an Islamic extremist of Libyan descent chose to blow up both himself and 22 innocent lives at a pop concert in Manchester, England. In light of intelligence surrounding the attack, the threat level in the UK was been moved from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’ – an assessment that means that a further attack remains highly likely and may be imminent. This deliberate attack on life, callously chosen for a place and time where children and young people were known to be having harmless fun, sadly follows a series of deliberate dark attacks both in the UK and other countries represented at ECPYouth in recent months and years. We’ve witnessed men drive vehicles into innocent people near the UK Parliament, in the Berlin Christmas market, and in during Bastilleday celebrations in Nice. We’ve watched terrorists use explosive devises to blow up commuters in Brussels, Ataturk, Ankara, Madrid, London, and people socialising in Paris. We’ve seen shootings in Toulouse, Burgas, Oslo, Brussels, and Paris. We’ve seen attackers take hostages from a place of worship in Rouen. The last few years in Europe have been darkened by evil ideologies that have driven men and women destroy life by acting in ways previously thought incomprehensible.
How can we respond to all of this? Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, responded to the Manchester terror attack by affirming that the bravery of the emergency services and people of Manchester who helped had “proved that cowardice will always be defeated by bravery, that evil can be overcome by good, and that our values – the liberal, pluralistic values of Britain – will always prevail over the hateful ideology of the terrorists”. It is promising that this political response points us as believers in Christ to a Biblical resolve. In light of 2 Corinthians 4 v 6, which was written in reference to the true light of Jesus Christ who came to shine on the people living in darkness, it is for us who believe in the true light to hold fast to that light and pray that it will shine brighter than the darkness that tries to extinguish it. We must believe that living out lives that are God-glorifying, honouring to our fellow men, and mirroring the life of Jesus, will stand as the strongest counter to the evil attacks that we will not be able to predict or fully prevent against. In politics, we can condemn the attackers and build up our fortresses, but yet continue with policies and programmes that support and build up those whose lives the others are aiming to destroy. We should promote the values that ECPYouth stands for: catholicity (uniting together as Christians from different expressions of faith); dignity (belief that all people, even those who are susceptible to negative ideologies, are created in the likeness and image of God); and collaboration (connecting and working with others to be stronger in our aims and goals). Through remaining in the light and living out these values, our political ideas can encourage the principles we hold dear in Europe – equality, freedom, justice, responsibility, and solidarity.
Remember: even in the blackest room, a small flicker of light will dispel the darkness.
Lizzie Francis, Secretary (UK)