Desperate times for Iraqi Christians
Patrick Novecosky writes that the troubles of Iraqi Christians may soon be ours . . .
We live in difficult times. Others live in desperate times. Despite the 24-hour news cycle, most Americans are seemingly unaware that terrorists are wiping out Middle East Christians.
Under Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator driven from power in 2003, radical Islam was held at bay in Iraq and anti-Christian violence was minimal. However, after Saddam’s regime fell, Christians have been under fierce attack. Millions have fled and many thousands have been butchered.
Proclaiming a caliphate (a new Islamic state) straddling Iraq and Syria, radical Islamists have swept across northern Iraq, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities from their homes.
With the rise of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) over the summer, Christian homes have been painted with the Arabic letter ن (nūn) for Nassarah (an Arabic word for Christian). The jihadists declared that all Christians must leave or be killed. Thousands have been slaughtered, often beheaded.
It’s so bad that Pope Francis told reporters force is necessary to stop the insurgents. Asked if he approved of U.S. strikes against ISIS, the Pope said, “In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression I can only say that it is legitimate to stop the unjust aggressor.”
Being so far removed from the violence, most Americans are more concerned about the national economy, the mid-term elections and their own personal issues. In a country with a relatively stable political environment, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the situation in Iraq. But we must for two important reasons.
First, Jesus made it clear that his followers make up his Body, the Church (Rom 12:5-6). When one part of the Body of Christ is threatened, we are all threatened. We must be in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world, praying for them and with them.
Second, military analysts say that the U.S. is more vulnerable to attack now than before 9/11. ISIS is armed, wealthy, and determined. Their leaders have made it clear that they have no intention of stopping with Iraq and Syria. They intended to ride the wave of violence all the way to North Africa. The jihadists beheaded an American journalist in mid-August, and they say that the United States is on their hit list.
The bottom line is that it’s sackcloth and ashes time. Christians in America must repent and turn back to the Lord with all their hearts or the prospect for peace will remain out of reach.
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine.
An extended version of this editorial may be found at Novecosky’s blog. Click here.