The Rev’d Canon Andrew White, widely known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, has long suffered with multiple sclerosis. His ministry vocation involves a lot of travel and even more speaking, often close to tears, and yet, sadly, it is his mobility and speech which are most affected by his illness. But two decades of MS haven’t stopped him being “hijacked, kidnapped, locked up in rooms with bits of finger and toe and things”. He has been held at gunpoint, physically attacked, and seen many members of his staff kidnapped or killed. He has lived in Iraq’s holocaust, and seen hell with his own eyes. Glory in tribulations? We don’t grasp the half of it.
He posted a health update on his Facebook page yesterday, which is rather concerning:
It has been shared more than 3,000 times, with about 500 tearful emoji faces. When it comes to saints and suffering, some seem to get more than their fair share. But Canon White would be the first to say that his suffering is as nothing compared to the desolation throughout the Middle East. We can pray for a miracle, but Canon White isn’t really expecting one. Nor, to be honest, are we. Perhaps the consoling nearness of the Holy Spirit is the best we may dare to hope for. Certainly, those in Christ should console one another (Rom 1:12).
He posted an update a few hours later:
There are good angels and evil angels: the Devil is the enemy, bringing nothing but dark nights and disruption. But note the move from despair – “I am finished” – to victory: “..on the winning side.. see great things.” It could almost be a psalm, moving from desolation to consolation. One moment God seems to have callously abandoned; another, He is there, with His warmth, peace, joy and encouragement.
Please remember and pray for Andrew White. He desires and works for heavenly things: he serves God and seeks to make Jesus known. He radiates faith, hope and love, even when the Holy Spirit feels absent in a world of gloom, discouragement and pain. The tempter, seducer and destroyer may be corroding Andrew White’s brain, but he will never sever the mystical union or silence the prophetic inspiration. He can evict a mind, but he cannot blind the sons of God to the vision of divine light and beauty. Our ecstasy awaits; our joy is in heaven. ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..’