I’d like to take this opportunity to draw attention to our persecuted brethren overseas. As you may be aware, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) extremists have made an ultimatum to Christians in Iraq: deny your faith and convert to Islam or be executed. Christian homes, churches and institutions are being marked with the Arabic letter ‘N’ or nun - for ‘Nazarene’ - to show where Christians are present. The threat is quite real, with Christians being persecuted, robbed, beaten and even martyred for their faith. This week alone saw the burning of hundred-years old churches to the ground, and hundreds of Christians fleeing their homes.
Yet hope—that gift from God and one of the three cardinal virtues—is always present. The image above shows the mark being made on Christians homes. The Arabic writing to the right is what someone added to that brand of ‘Nazarene’. It now reads ‘We are all Nazarenes’. Despite the threat of persecution from their own countrymen, many Iraqis are rebelling against the actions of their fellow men.
What can we do? Pray. I urge you to pray and to do so daily for the Body of Christ. Pray for relief for those suffering persecution in Iraq and around the world. Pray for religious freedom abroad and here in our own country. Pray also for the conversion of those who have declared themselves enemies of Christ. Pray that their eyes may be opened to the suffering they are causing.
And pray for hope. We know Christ’s care for us all. May we be built up in our conviction of His goodness and providence. Through Christ all things are possible. We join together in that simple prayer: Jesus, I trust in You.
Your Brother in Christ,