What IS your only comfort in life and in death??? (with thanks to the Heidelberg Catechism)

by Marilyn Borst

I have just returned from my 10th trip to Iraq. I first encountered our Presbyterian family there on a trip in 1998. My admiration for their faith and faithfulness under difficult circumstances multiplies with each visit. Middle Easterners have “hospitality” in their DNA and food is one of the ways in which this is extended – with frequency and in abundance! In an attempt to offset the generous hospitality we had been receiving from the church in Baghdad, I had taken to walking laps in the church courtyard/parking lot, just down the stairs from the guest apartments where we have been staying. 30 minutes goes slowly when you are walking confined laps so I passed the time singing hymns (in my head, because everyone else is asleep) and praying for that place and for its work and witness. Each lap took me past the "guard house" outside the gates where, around the clock, in eight hour shifts, Iraqi soldiers protect this Holy Ground – and I offer a prayer of thanks for them.

And I soon began to notice how many crosses I passed as I made those tedious loops – they were everywhere: atop the steeple, on the walls, over the windows, on railings and doors. I began to count them: 106 of them. Our small Outreach Foundation team (Ben McCaleb, Steve Burgess, Nuhad Tomeh and I) had our picture taken with one of the soldiers who guards the church – and we thanked him for his presence there. But we knew that, at the end of the day, for the church as well as for all Iraqi Christians – their real security lies in the Cross.

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death? 

Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so, preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head… 

Marilyn Borst
Associate Director for Partnership Development

The Outreach Foundation