If ever there was a time to pray, it’s now.
Northern Iraq is a currently a place of intense violence as ISIS (Islamic State) militants advance from village to village intent on “cleansing” anyone who refuse to convert to Islam. For months now, ISIS Troops have been advancing in Northern Iraq, leaving a trail of incomprehensible death and destruction in its wake. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, Sunnis and other ethnic minorities of Iraq have been executed or raped
and kidnapped when refusing to convert to Islam.
In early August, over 40,000 Yezidis, an ancient people of northern Iraq who revere both the Bible and the Koran, were trapped on Mount Sinjar without food or water. Many children and elderly perished from heat and dehydration.
With brutal force, ISIS troops have ravaged towns and forced every inhabitant to either convert to Islam or face death or slavery. One eye witness, a businessman from Mosul told CNN:“There is a park in Mosul, where [ISIS] they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick and have them in the park,’ he explained. ‘More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.'” In proof, Catholic Online posted graphic pictures of men dangling from public crucifixions and children beheaded. According to eye witness reports, any unconverted women and young girls have been sold into sex slavery or forced into ‘marriage’ with their captors. Reports from the few men who escaped the rampage speak of whole villages of men and boys being lined up and executed by firing squads.
Oblivious to global outrage, ISIS declared a caliphate, an Islamic state for all the territory it now controls, including about thirty percent of both Syria and Iraq. In A Rogue State along Two Rivers, an article dated July 3rd in the New York Times, author Jeremy Ashkenas pinpointed the strategic takeover of Syria and Iraq along the ancient Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by the militant ISIS troops. Since July, northern Iraq has been taken by ISIS with one mandate: enforcement upon death of a fundamental Muslim state. In Raqqa, Syria, the self-declared capital of ISIS, Caliph Abraham (formerly known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) has been established as “holy head of state”, a political prophet revered by thousands of radicalised troops. In July, he described “Islamic State” as one that “will return your dignity, might, rights and leadership” and the Times surmises in “A Look at the Dangers Posed” that “With its transnational agenda, the group has become a magnet for disenfranchised young Muslims from all over the world.”
ISIS is organised, media savvy and rich in resources, with an arsenal that includes tanks, planes, ground to air missiles and even American weaponry originally supplied to Iraqi military bases that are now under ISIS control. With over two billion in assets, ISIS control military bases, a power plant and an oil refinery as well as several million people in ISIS territory. ISIS is currently using Facebook, Twitter and news venues to post online videos, tweets and pictures to promote their terror campaign, including the live video of another journalist beheaded in retaliation against US. air force attacks.
In September, 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Commission admitted a genocide is occurring in Northern Iraq, stating:
““[ISIL] is systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and is ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under its control,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement to the press. The violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation.Ms. Pillay said among those directly targeted have been Christians, Yezidi, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kaka’e and Sabaeans.
September 2nd, in a special session at the UN on the Iraq crisis, Flavia Pansieri,Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights commented in her opening remarks, “The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale” .
As Christians, what can we do?
As the Body of Christ, we must mobilise in prayer for the sake of those suffering in Iraq and all over this broken globe. Prayer is our best resource to petition the will of heaven upon the earth.
We can give to those who are helping right in the midst of the crisis. Crisis Relief International is currently reaching dispersed peoples of all faiths in the city of Erbil, Iraq. The relief workers have rented an abandoned apartment building and are ministering with food, clothing and medical aid to to over a hundred refugee families who have run for their lives from the ISIS invasion.
Give to any organisation you feel will help those who have been dispersed. Over 1.5 million people are now without a home, belongings, medical supplies, or food in Iraq and Syria. Many have lost their husband, son, daughter, wife or mother at the hands of brutal ISIS captors and are traumatized at every level.
Perhaps when you read this report, you are overwhelmed with the horror and find it hard to respond with faith. Stand strong and remember the Lord God Almighty hears our cry for His people and His world. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever. He isn’t budging from His eternal place of prominence as King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords and He loves the whole world, every person.
Let’s pray: Father in heaven, we bow before You for our brothers and sisters of the Middle East. We cry out for their protection. Father, send your angelic forces to war on their behalf. Send divine provision! Comfort those suffering with the helping hands of compassionate nations who see their plight and have mercy. Help them Lord God! Help our global leaders to understand the times and respond with godly wisdom. Lord God Almighty, the earth is Yours! Reign in power across the nations! Have mercy on all who dwell in the Middle East, Lord God. Bring Your peace in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son. AMEN.