"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, and those who are mistreated, since you yourselves are in the body also. . ." (Heb 13:3).
For long enough, churches have been bombed and burned to the ground in Nigeria. Thousands of homes have been torched, and thousands of Christians shot down. For many, it seemed like the world didn't care. Finally, the kidnapping of more than 200 young girls has captured the West's imagination.
For many years, persecution of Christians in Sudan has been brutal. A countless number have been bombed and butchered. Christians have been found literally crucified. Finally, Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian woman with two very young children, sentenced to death after a family dispute and shackled to a prison wall, has captured the world's attention.
For three years, Syria has been blown apart in one of the fiercest battles in memory. Thousands have lost their homes and their possessions and fled the country. Islamic fighters, with military jihad as their motivation and acknowledging allegiance only to Allah, have now spread into Iraq, taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and reportedly surrounding the country's largest oil refinery.
They belong to a group named ISIS, said to be more ruthless than al Qaeda. Their beheadings and crucifixions are well known. They have assassinated adults and children, their bodies left lying in their homes and in the streets by the hundred. Thousands, including children, have fled for their lives, and are without food and water. Kurds are blocking refugees from entering Kurdistan. Some refugees find themselves in towns now surrounded, and are facing death.
What the ,mainstream media perhaps does not make clear is that Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, is the site of ancient Nineveh, and has been one of the last resorts for Christians in Iraq. It has been a Christian centre for the past 2,000 years. Most of the Christians there are probably now among the 150,000 escapees, fleeing they don't know where, but afraid for their lives.
"Please help us" are the cries coming out of Iraq at the moment. May they be heard.
"As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10).