“Are you sick of people talking about ISIS and not doing anything?” asks Mia Reynolds Reini.
Reini speaks for many of us who want to do something, and want our government to do something about ISIS. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on March 3, 2015, “sixty-two percent of those surveyed across the country said they favor sending in ground troops,” reports The Fiscal Times.
For what you can do, see the end of this post.
WHAT ISIS IS DOING
While we, including the U.S. government, continue to talk, ISIS does not stand still. I was sobered to realize that a year ago January, 2014, ISIS controlled one city, Fallujah. By August of 2014, ISIS had control of one-third of Iraq and one-third of Syria.
With each conquest there are more men, women, and children killed, evidence of the region’s ancient cultural heritage wiped out, and more eager recruits joining ISIS from around the world (The god of this world has blinded their eyes.) to build the global Caliphate.
Most recently, we learned that ISIS launched a major new attack on Saturday and Sunday, March 7 and 8, 2015, as it seeks to expand even further. This attack was against 33 Christian villages in Syrian Northeast Hassakeh Province’s Khabur River Valley.
ISIS armored columns streamed into the area, seizing all villages on the south bank of the Khabur and several villages on the north bank. Tonight, ISIS will try to cross the Khabur (whose water flow dropped sharply today) with large numbers of fighters and heavy weapons – vastly stronger than lightly armed self-defense forces.
The brave Syriac Military Council has been the only protection for the Khabur River Valley villages, fighting ISIS on the ground even when U.S. and coalition-led airstrikes are more few and far between than could be hoped for in this urgent situation, and when the flow of water — under the control of Turkey — mysteriously drops in time for an ISIS attack.
In addition, ISIS still has some 350 Christians that they abducted from the same Khabur River Valley villages on Sunday, February 22. (They really do like attacking Christians on their Holy Day, don’t they? See Boko Haram, Sudanese government and militias, Sunday bombings and raids, etc. This in itself is evidence of the spiritual warfare that is going on, and Christian prayer warriors around the world should be praying the hardest as the weekend approaches, that GOD will stop Satan from this kind of display of the power that he thinks he has, by attacking Christians on the Lord’s Day.)
The Syriacs report that many of these 350 Assyrian Christians were killed or sold as sex slaves. Only 19 are known to have been released. Two of those released told The Christian Post how ISIS tried to force all of the hostages to convert to Islam, but all boldly refused. (And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.)
BREAKING NEWS OF HELP FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION!
Less than 24 hours ago, we received news that the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the protection of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities from ISIS (also called “Daesh” in the resolution). The Syriac International News Agency reported on March 12, 2015 that the resolution, “highlighted the importance of the European Union commitment regarding minorities and vulnerable groups in the region.”
The resolution encourages that the European Union, NATO, and other allies cooperate with “newly emerging regional and local forces.” It commends the YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Unit) for its role in the liberation of Kobane, the Syriac Military Council, saying that they “have shown more commitment to human rights and democracy than their countries’ rulers,” and salutes “the courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who have done so much to protect endangered minorities.” The resolution also calls out Turkey for playing an “ambivalent” role in the conflict.
Among all of the welcomed provisions included in the resolution, one stands out. The resolution
Calls upon the international coalition to do more to prevent abductions of minorities, such as the abduction of hundreds of Assyrian Christians in northern Syria; underlines the importance of ensuring a safe haven for the Chaldeans/Assyrians/Syriacs and others at risk in the Nineveh Plains, Iraq, an area where many ethnic and religious minorities have historically had a strong presence and lived peacefully alongside each other. . .
This request for a safe haven in the Nineveh Plains is one that has been urged (on the State Department, for years) by members of Congress, by human rights groups and NGO’s, and most recently as a recommendation in the report “Edge of Extinction: The Eradication of Religious and Ethnic Minorities in Iraq,” from the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. Now the European Parliament has added its voice.
NOW, WHAT YOU CAN DO: TAKE THE CHALLENGE!
Returning to the question at the beginning of this post, through Sarah Roderick Fitch, the Secretary General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, I learned of Mia Reynolds Reini’s idea of challenging 4 friends to join us in taking 4 actions to work to defeat ISIS. With Mia’s permission I am expanding on her ideas and sharing them here.
Nominate four of your friends to do this with you, challenge them and have them challenge four of their friends, etc. (similarly to the ice bucket challenge for ALS this past summer, but without the ice ).”Let’s defeat ISIS with grassroots prayer and activism,” Reini urges.
- Pray every night for the safety of Christians and other hostages taken by ISIS, as well as for the communities vulnerable to ISIS attack in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere.
- Fast — give up at least one meal per week for the restoration of these communities and for the defeat of ISIS.
- Donate an amount that hurts to a Christian relief organization or similar group working specifically in these countries. Just a few suggestions: Egyptian American Christian Johnny Youssef has established a Go Fund Me page for the families of the 21 Christians who were beheaded by ISIS in Libya. Christian Solidarity International issued its first genocide warning for Christians in the Islamic Middle East three years ago, and has been providing support since long before then. Samaritan’s Purse has been actively on the ground for two years, providing aid to Iraqi and Syrian victims of ISIS. Barnabas Aid USA partners with local churches, etc. to provide refugees with food aid and supplies. The Hatune Foundation, created by Sister Hatune Dogan, a Syrian Orthodox nun, is reaching out to refugees and providing for their needs. There are many others, as well.
- Call (don’t email) The White House (Comment Line: 202-456-1111), your senators, and your representative, and tell them the U.S. must intervene. Reference the above news, if you wish. Have them take your name and contact information and request an official response.
If you subscribe to IRD’s Religious Liberty Program e-newsletter, you will receive more information about an organized plan to engage together in the 4Actions/4Friends/4ISISDefeat for 4 weeks with a Google Group.
If you want to participate, hurry and subscribe to the IRD e-newsletter through the subscribe button on the website, then scroll way down till you find the Religious Liberty e-newsletter subscription option.
We will begin the 4 week campaign on March 17, in honor of St. Patrick, an abductee and refugee, who forgave his captors and came back to preach the Gospel to them.