Many Christians are replacing their Facebook and Twitter profile picture with the letter “N” in Arabic. Why are Christians doing this? It’s a sign of solidarity with our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and in other regions of the world. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is a jihadist group that is trying to implement a strict form of Islam. Part of their ruthless tactics is to eradicate the Christian population. Recently, ISIS ordered Christians, living in Mosul, Iraq to either convert to Islam, submit to their radical rule and pay a hefty fine, leave, or die. ISIS marked the homes of Christians in Mosel with the “N” which is the first letter of the word, “Nasrani” (Nazerene). An ominous sign for Christians living in a “marked” home! The Christians got the message. Most of them left. Speaking to Vatican Radio over the phone from Nineveh province, Northern Iraq, Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul said, “We need more than words now, we need concrete actions, we need the solidarity of Christians worldwide, not to be afraid to talk about this tragedy.” (Source: The Christians.com)
Persecution of the Nazarene’s (i.e. Jesus’) followers is worldwide! Last September, more than 80 people were killed and 150 wounded when a pair of suicide bombers blew up the historic All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. In China, we hear of the Public Security Bureau invading church services, arresting, and beating church members. In some regions of India, Christian persecution continues as Bibles are burned, churches are destroyed, personal property is confiscated, and some Christians are beaten, arrested, and in some cases, killed. Christians, in Egypt, have experienced a similar fate. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is targeting Christian girls in particular in their attempt to purge the country of Christians and implement Sharia (Islamic) law. Pastor Behnam Irani remains imprisoned (with other Christians) in Iran despite failing health due to the beatings he has endured. The Sudanese government forbids Christians from building new churches along with other forms of harassment from the Islam-leaning government. The list of persecuted Christians goes on and on and on.
What might Christians do to concretely show solidarity with our Christians brothers and sisters?
- We can provide financial support to organizations like Christian Solidarity Worldwide and The Voice of the Martyrs.
- We can encourage our governments to object to the mistreatment of Christians and to ramp up efforts to support refugees.
- We can sponsor refugees who are trying to escape their repressive situations so they can provide a safe place for their family.
- We can pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. We can pray for the conversion of the persecutors! They are in desperate need of the Nazarene’s forgiveness!
O almighty and everlasting God, the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak, may the prayers of those who in any tribulation or distress cry to you graciously come before you, so that in all their necessities they may mark and receive your manifold help and comfort.
O almighty and everlasting God, through your only Son, our blessed Lord, you commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore we earnestly ask you that by your gracious visitation our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (From Lutheran Worship, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982, p. 126)