“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”Bonhoefer
My heart aches for our family (Christians) who are enduring the horrific persecution in Iraq by the terrorist organization called ISIS (an acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The news stations (Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera) have reported brutal murders, beheadings, and tormenting acts against Christians living in the country of Iraq. Most have had to flee their homes or risk rape and murder. Many, upon fleeing their homes have died on the journey over the mountains because of starvation. If they can’t leave their homes, they’re tortured and killed. Mosul Iraq is said to be completely barren of Christians.
One report said, “Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, he called what’s happening in Iraq a “Christian genocide” and said “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”
The writer of Hebrews (in chapter 13 verse 3) tells us, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
Jesus knew that His followers would endure persecution. He endured so much persecution for us. The early church endured persecution at such an intensity that most of us have a hard time relating to it. But, this was the situation from which Jesus gave instructions to His followers by saying, “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Luke 9:23).
I want to be equipped and ready to follow the Lord, to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Him just like the Christians of Iraq. Oh my goodness friends, could you do what they are doing? Yes, we could. But it would be grueling, oh how they need our support!
Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…”
Paul wasn’t speaking figuratively. He was prepared to die for the King of Glory, who had literally laid down His physical body for him. These blessed Christians in Iraq are willingly sharing in the sufferings of Christ. For Christ they are willing to die, to be mutilated, to suffer. My heart explodes for them as I know yours does.
Three Ways to Help Persecuted Christians of Iraq
- Increase awareness on social media about the persecution in Iraq. Many are putting up a symbol on their social media, it’s the Arabic letter “nun.” It’s the first letter in the word Nazarene. It is being painted on properties owned by Christians so that the terrorists can identify them. The people are using this symbol as profile pictures, so as to “identify” or “remember” those who are suffering in Iraq- and even boldly associate themselves with those Christians. This is a brave act of “remembering those who are suffering as if you, yourself were suffering.
- Pray privately and corporately for the deliverance of the people of Iraq, from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region. Gather a small group together for the sole purpose of prayer for the persecuted. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.…” Let’s gather together and lift up the Christians of Iraq.
3. Support a trustworthy organization working to help persecuted Christians who have been hurt or are without shelter or food. Voice of the Martyrs,Crisis Response International Samaritans Purse and Christian Aid are just of few that I know who are working the field diligently and need our support to help those in need.
Jesus himself prophesied of “wars and rumors of wars…” (Matthew 24:6a) but he adds instruction for us in this- “See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”