Convert, flee or die. If you were given only those options, as was the case for Christians living in the Mosul region of Iraq, what would you choose? It’s estimated that the largest concentration of Iraqi Christians fled for their lives. According to one report, less than 10,000 Christians (out of 100,000) remained in Qaraqosh and surrounding villages. That means 90,000 Christians left at night by foot, buses or private cars towards Erbil and other cities. Others were martyred, including women and children. But there are no reported cases of Christians converting to Islam. Interesting. One would think that ISIS (Islamic State of Syria) would loudly proclaim conversion stories to promote their cause. But it doesn’t sound like ISIS is interested in new proselytes, just dead Christians.
One congressman, Virginia Representative Frank Wolf, gave this warning, “Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.” The Bible makes it very clear that “if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). But do we? I have to stop and ask myself, how am I participating in the suffering of persecuted Christians? How am I sharing in the burden of those who are fleeing for their lives and those who paid the ultimate price of martyrdom?
Currently, there are protests held in many parts of the world, thanks in part to the #WeAreN Campaign. When the ISIS militants took over Mosul, they placed the Arabic letter “N” ن on the homes of Christians to identity the loyalties of those who follow the Nazarene. Christians all over the world are now joining this campaign by placing the symbol ن on their doorways or windows. Demonstrations urging western leaders to put an end to the genocide have taken place in France, Denmark, Germany, England, Sweden, Australia, Canada and many cities in the U.S.
The Apostle Peter tells us that when we experience suffering we should rejoice, because we “share Christ’s sufferings,” and thus we will one day share in His glory (1 Peter 4:13). It’s time for the American Church to stand together with our Iraqi brothers and sisters. Let’s pray. Let’s unite. If you have a Twitter account, you can join the #WeAreN movement. Let’s contact our congressmen and congresswomen to express support of our government’s continued action to help those who are suffering.
Let’s put our own circumstances in perspective. My personal pain pales in comparison to the suffering of others around the world. And let’s be thankful that “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).