“If one member suffers, we all suffer together,” recited National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Chairman of the Board of Directors Bill Blount during the broadcasters’ annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Amidst various savvy radio and film strategy summits, Blount moderated a special session highlighting the plight of Christians and other religious minorities abroad.
Canon Andrew White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” and pastor of St. George’s Baghdad, brought his incredible first-hand experiences to the largely American Evangelical crowd at NRB. “I bring you greetings from your brothers and sisters. The Church. The Persecuted Church. Not just in Iraq, but many other places connected with the Middle East,” said White.
White elaborated, “Most of our people are not in Baghdad anymore. I was in Baghdad. But ISIS came in and they basically destined to massacre our people.” Describing how the city’s Christian population lived under constant threat, most had to escape with “whatever they had on their backs” to Erbil in norther Iraq and some farther on to Jordan. Their lives were secure but “their hopes were destroyed,” said White.
The volatile environment for Middle East Christians translates into unmet needs such as accommodations, food, healthcare, and education. “We Christians! We talk about looking after the Persecuted Church,” cried out White. “You talk about helping those who are suffering for their faith. But do you mean it? Or is it just talk and prayer?”
Not intending to belittle the value of prayer, White explained that “prayer is a very good thing” especially compared to doing nothing at all. But “you’ve got to pray for peace and pay for peace.” The Vicar of Baghdad explained, “It’s no good praying and doing nothing. If you really care, you will provide for those in need.”
At this point, a gentleman from the audience, obviously moved by White’s words, walked up to the podium mid speech to hand the Vicar a check. “Bless you,” replied White. Shortly afterwards, the sweet Southern lady sitting beside me asked aloud, “Will we have a chance to give?”
Clearly the audience at NRB wanted to act immediately. Thankfully, the session did not end with a simple acknowledgement of Christian genocide nor convenient contributions (although donations were given to White after the summit).
True to NRB form, the session moved from spotlight to strategy. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center (MRC), concluded by discussing the media and government’s shameful silence and encouraged the Christian media moguls in the room how to better harness their resources to tell the story of the persecuted Church. “The establishment press is not going to cover these stories,” Bozell stated. “Only you can tell the story about the most horrific cleansing of Christians in most horrific of ways by an omen that calls itself religious but, in fact, is an evil that must be stopped.”
“You’re broadcasters,” Bozell said. “You’re storytellers. Tell the story.”