As we are seeing more and more of the violence happening in the Middle East, with stories of beheadings, mass murder and terror, we are reminded of the frailty of life. People in Iraq have been killed in great numbers and been forced to flee their homes because of their faith, many being Christians or other minority groups. Had I been there at that time the same thing would have happened to me. It’s humbling that we as human beings are so vulnerable.
At the same time, there is great strength in the dedication these people have shown. As they face the choice of conversion, death or fleeing their homes, many have held firm to their faith, showing the world that there is something they value more than their lives here on earth. They place their trust in God, not because of what he guarantees to do for them but because they believe him to be true and worthy of all glory. They believe God to be good even when he doesn’t step in to rescue them but allows them to suffer and even die because they choose not to deny him. That is a faith that goes deep and despite the tragedy and horror of it all, I believe they have won a great victory.
Their courage challenges me to ask how genuine my own faith is and what requirements I have of God for him to be praised. Is Jesus Lord in my life because he is giving me what I want or simply because he is worthy to be Lord?
As the struggle for these people continue, we have a chance to show our support and concern by doing what we can. The Christians in Iraq are asking people all around the world to pray for their protection and provision. At the moment, the town of Amerli in Northern Iraq is in desperate need as they fear being massacred like other towns before them. They have been surrounded by Isis for 8 weeks, holding off the forces with women and children joining the men in arms, but are now critically low on food and water.
When faced with such a powerful threat like Isis, I believe the best thing we can do is to call on the Almighty God and ask him to step in with his strength and mercy. Starting from today, Christians over the world are joining together for five days of prayer and fasting for Iraq. Not only will this have an impact on the world but I believe it will also do something in our hearts as we are prepared to give up a little of our own comfort out of compassion for others.