(This article was originally posted at Patheos Evangelical Channel’s Faith & Chelsen: Tackling Tough Topics in Church and Culture, on May 25, 2016.)
The Islamic State Can’t Stop Christ
So They Destroy Those Who Reflect His Image
They hate the Image reflected in the mirrors.
But even they,
with their knives and guns and bombs,
and their crucifixions and abductions,
and their rape and enslavement,
and their marking of houses with threats, forcing thousands to flee,
are powerless to stop Christ and His Kingdom.
Their threat mark literally has multiplied across the face of the earth as Christians and others, including sympathetic Muslims, wear pins and t-shirts and mark their social media with the ن (N) for “Nazarene,” the epithet meant to insult the indigenous Christian Assyrians. Little did the Islamic State know that they were marking the Christians with the very imprimatur of the Kingdom that one day will ensure that their Caliphate is obliterated.
They can’t stop Christ, but they are smashing the mirrors that reflect His image.
This was how Father Douglas Bazi (Doglas Yousef Al Bazi) explained what is being done to the Assyrian Christians by the Islamic State. (“Do not call it ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’” he instructed. They are an Islamic STATE, following Shari’a and the Koran “word for word.”)
Speaking at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, DC on May 10, Bazi, a Chaldean Catholic priest, said that the Church of the East was a Church of martyrs, a Church of the blood of martyrs. “There is more blood than there is oil in the Middle East,” he declared, “but no one cares about our blood.” Bazi would know. He takes care of thousands of Iraqi Christians that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten even as it welcomes others who claim to be fleeing the violence in Syria.
Martyrdom has been the way of life for Christians in the Middle East for 2000 years. Bazi explained that the Church of the East has always been between two fires. First, the Christians moved away from Roman persecution towards the Persian empire. But during the Roman/Persian wars, the Christians were caught in the middle. In spite of that, though, were 70 million Christians in the Church of the East “before Islam showed up,” Bazi said. 700,000 Assyrian Christians were murdered in the Armenian Genocide. And even though Christians continued to suffer in more recent days under the rule of Saddam Hussein, there were still 2 million Christians in the region up to 2003 .
Now there are less than 200,000 Christians. The Church has been broken and smashed. But when a mirror is smashed every tiny piece becomes another mirror, another reflection, Bazi reminded his listeners as he described what the Church has suffered under Islam. “They are still showing the reflection of Jesus in the broken pieces of the mirror,” he said. His talk focused on the situation for Christians since 2003, but before the coming of the Islamic State, what is happening under the Islamic State, and what will happen in the future.
Before the coming of the Islamic State the Church’s buildings were blown up by Al Qaeda. It was after Pope Benedict XVI’s historic lecture at Regensburg (which went completely over the heads of most Westerners, but of which the Islamic world clearly understood the significance) that Fr. Bazi’s Baghdad church, St. Elia, was bombed for the second time by Islamists. Bazi explained that he “flew into the air” at the bomb blast, and that he lost his hearing for a short time. After the bomb went off, the militia opened fire on his church and he was shot in the leg from a distance of about 50 feet by a jihadist “with an AK47.”
(The rest of this article is continued here.)