In my previous post I talked about the horror taking place in northern Iraq as ISIS moves from town to town in what was has been one of the oldest Christian civilizations, killing and brutalizing Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. The people of these ancient faiths have been targets of Islamic jihad for years and one could hardly imagine conditions deteriorating, but today the conditions for these faithful ones are unspeakable. Before it is too late, the United States government has to assist the brave Kurdish military and others who trying to stop the poisonous flow of ISIS’s global Caliphate.
Here are five things you can do to help push U.S. policy and bring support to the persecuted Iraqis.
1. Sign “A Plea on Behalf of Victims of ISIS/ISIL Barbarism in Iraq,” a petition by Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton, University, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and IRD Board Member Emeritus. Dr. George lays out the situation well in this petition and advises that he will be giving the petition to President Obama and to the United States Congress. He says:
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS/ISIL) is conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq. In its fanatical effort to establish a caliphate, ISIS/ISIL has engaged in crimes against humanity by deliberately causing mass starvation and dehydration, and by committing unconscionable acts of barbarism against noncombatants, including defenseless women, children, and elderly persons.
It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities. This goal cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable ISIS/ISIL forces. President Obama was right to order airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL to stop its advance on key cities, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing their assaults. Much more needs to be done, however, and there is no time to waste.
Read the whole thing here, and sign it. Unless you are a hardcore pacificist (I will be writing about just how effective I think that is to stop the coming Caliphate in the coming days) you will agree, I think, with his assessment of the need for military support for the Kurds and others who are trying to defeat ISIS and stop the building of a global Caliphate.
I particularly appreciate Dr. George’s message to the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, urging them to also defend their Christian brothers and sisters and other victimized minorities in Iraq. It is as much a part of our Christian witness to speak out for suffering members of the worldwide Body of Christ as it is to speak out about social issues and family values here at home.
You can also watch an interview with Dr. George on The Ed Morrissey Show.
There are other petitions available for signing, as well. I will share more of those in coming days.
2. Pledge on Hozana to be a Prayer Warrior
Hozana describes itself as “a Christian praying network, to create and share prayer chains.” It was launched in French in February 2014, and now is available in English and Spanish as well. It is run by a team of Catholic lay people, based in Paris, and followed by two French priests, working in collaboration with Aleteia, an International Christian media in 6 languages, with 2 million monthly unique visitors.
Hozana’ s “Light for Iraq” pledge asks participants to pledge to do two things.
First, they ask signers to pray the Lord’s Prayer for the Christians of Iraq. They specifically asked for August 3-10, while 1500 young people were gathering in the French Abbey of Hautecombe to pray for Iraqi Christians, but why not add praying the Lord’s Prayer for the Christians in Iraq (and the Yazidis and others) every day! They even have a link to a written version of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, as well as an audio file of the prayer being prayed in Aramaic.
Second, they ask you to send a photo of yourself holding a noun and a lit candle to the special Facebook event page that they have dedicated to praying for Iraq. It is very encouraging to see the photos of people from all over the world. It is also encouraging to look at the map on Hozana’s pledge page that shows all the places where people have pledged to pray.
3. Provide financial support to the refugees through an organization such as Barnabas Fund or Samaritan’s Purse (There are many other great organizations helping the Iraqis. These are just a couple examples of good, effective ministries.)
Barnabas Aid of the Barnabas Fund provides hope and relief to the persecuted church, working with partners on the ground. Currently 30,000 displaced Iraqi Christians are receiving aid through just one of Barnabas Aid’s projects for Iraq and Syria.
Samaritan’s Purse is also responding to the crisis in northern Iraq. A report following ISIS’s taking of the ancient city of Qaraqosh on August 7 told how they had expanded food relief with the influx of newly displaced families. “Within one 48-hour period, the organization fed 14,000 people.” Samaritan’s Purse has also provided monthly supplies to families in Erbil and Chamchamal since June.
Wonder what the Bible has to say about providing for your persecuted brothers and sisters? Last year my friend Dominic Sputo, the founder of Mute No More, told me what he found when searching the New Testament for verses about money and giving. Seventy-two percent of the verses (294) are specifically related to financially supporting poor, persecuted Christians. Sputo also pointed out that St. Paul initiated Sunday collections “in order to collect money for suffering Christians.” For instance, Christians in Antioch collected funds for Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 11: 19). Christians in Corinth raised money for Christians in Turkey and Greece (2 Cor. 9: 12).
4. Endorse Congressional efforts such as those of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) and others
Congressman Wolf has an entire section of his website devoted to Christianity in Iraq. It provides such resources as his floor speeches in the House of Representatives (seven statements between July 22 and 31), information for the Congressional record such as a list of all the Christian churches and institutions destroyed by ISIS since June 10, current news articles, videos, etc. Please share this information with your social networks, churches, local media, and other spheres of influence.
Especially important is to stand behind the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act that passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate last month and was signed into law by President Obama on August 8th. This law calls for a Special Envoy for the regions mentioned in the title. You can send a message to President Obama thanking him for signing the Act into law by calling: Comments: 202-456-1111/Switchboard: 202-456-1414 or emailing.
Now that the law has been passed, it must be carefully watched both to ensure that the right kind of person is chosen to be the Special Envoy (one who really understands the situation and takes seriously the threat of Islamic jihad), and that the State Department cooperates in the implementation of the law!
In addition, there are a couple of new resolutions that are quickly passing through the House of Representatives. One was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) on July 24. H.Con.Res. 110, “Calling for urgent international intervention on behalf of Iraqi civilians facing a dire humanitarian crisis and severe ethnic and religious persecution in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq” currently has 55 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. You can check here to see if your member of Congress is a co-sponsor so that you can either thank them or challenge them to become one!
The other resolution, H. Res. 683, was also introduced on July 24, by U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA), and passed in the House on August 1. Again, hold your member of Congress accountable: see if he or she is one of the 61 co-sponsors of this resolution. Help your friends and fellow church members to become educated about these resolutions and about how to familiarize themselves with their members of Congress’ actions for persecuted religious minorities in Iraq.
5. Do not let other news diminish the attention on the atrocities being committed by ISIS
We have increasingly short attention spans these days, and the media has an even shorter one! It is a struggle to keep the attention of the world even on horrific situations like the genocide of religious minorities in Iraq. And most of the world does not know what to make of a global Caliphate (if they did, they’d be terrified). Other important news stories have already begun to displace the news about Iraq — whether it be the tragic death of Robin Williams or the unfolding story in Ferguson, MO. But hundreds of thousands of people threatened with death, the eradication of an entire culture, the loss of an ancient language, the devastation of artifacts and monuments, and the growing global Caliphate deserve our full attention and action. Please continue to share information with all your contacts, urge your church leaders to have dedicated prayer time in every service, organize either virtual or physical prayer groups, and push both your local and the national media to more coverage.
Congressman Frank Wolf concluded one of his House floor speeches by saying, “I am reminded of William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who, in making the case against slavery in 1789, told his colleagues, “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
We cannot force our government to save the Christians and other religious minorities of Iraq from ISIS, but we can do what we can do: pray, be a voice, and urge our government not to look the other way.