There’s a staggering human rights crisis erupting in Iraq, right now. The Islamic terror group ISIS announced thru their Mosques last Friday that all Iraqi Christians are facing a choice.
Either – convert to Islam, or pay the exorbitant Jizya tax (in the West we call this protection money), or face the death penalty.
They are not kidding either – Fox News is reporting that …
“they (ISIS) have beheaded, mutilated, raped, stoned and even crucified those whose behavior is “unIslamic” or whose religious convictions displease them.”
There has been a church in Mosul since the 1st century. And yet today, the vast majority of the Christians there are fleeing for their lives.
It is an ironic truth that – in the years since the toppling of the dictator Saddam Hussein – religious extremism has been on the rise. Fast forward to today – Iraq is one of the most dangerous places on the planet to be a Christian.
As a Christian living in the UK – I pray for the safety of these brothers and sisters. I am also under no illusions – religious freedom is increasingly being eroded in my country. There are regular reports of Christians being fired from their jobs because they have persisted in exercising their Christian freedom + faith – maybe by wearing a cross or talking to colleagues about Jesus. This is serious…tho the thin end of the wedge in comparison to Iraq!
Having said all of that I am aware of the following
1 – We are talking about CHRISTIANS
What is being a Christian all about? Well it is about being a CHRIST-ian. A person who bears the name of Jesus Christ. Who suffered and died as a result of the stand he took over the truth of God’s identity and His plan for the world. It is about being his arms and his legs, his hands and feet on planet earth. Of facing challenges in serving men and women. If Christ suffered and died – why should my Christian experience be devoid of suffering?
Of course – this is no justification for the criminal activity unfolding in Iraq.
2 – Jesus Christ died – yet he rose from the dead
The eyewitness testimony of the 1st century gospel accounts are unanimous that Jesus died on a cross on the Friday – but he returned from the dead on Sunday.
And as Christ-ians we can be sure that when people seek to stamp out the church of Jesus Christ – they will ultimately fail. Because resurrection is always to come.
Just look at the history of the Christian Church in China. It was thought for decades that the church had been stamped out in that nation – and yet thru the rise of technology and social media – we find that persecution has led to a phenomenal growth in the underground Church. Death cannot hold the church – resurrection follows.
I can only pray that this encourages my suffering friends in Iraq right now. This is not the end. The Church will be back – bigger and stronger than ever before.