Silence of the Church

“For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” ~ Mark 3:35

Over the last month and a half, news reports have begun to trickle into the American media about the persecution and slaughter of Christians and the Yazidis in Iraq at the hands of ISIS terrorists.

Sadly, while we are just beginning to learn of the horrific stories coming out of that region, this genocide of indigenous Christians and other religious minorities has been happening for quite some time.

In fact, last year while some Americans were contemplating whether or not we should get involved in the Syrian civil war, the persecution of religious minorities in that region was already on the rise. Over 100,000 Iraqi and Syrian Christians have been slaughtered during this conflict (and that’s not including the hundreds who have been killed in Africa.)

However, as the news stories began to pour in over our television sets and our radios and over our social media feeds recently – absolutely horrific stories of mass killings, child decapitations, crucifixions (YES! Crucifixions in 2014!), women and children being buried alive and small children being shot in the face– the growing silence from our Church leaders here in America has become deafening.

Why are so many of my Christian brothers and sisters NOT speaking out? Why were so many leaders in the pulpit quiet? And more shocking, was the fact that I have met and talked to some of my fellow believers who were completely unaware of what was happening to Christians all across the world.

I recently went to a We Are N rally at the Daley plaza here in Chicago.

If you aren't familiar with the “We Are N” trend saturating social media as of late, the short story about it is this: the Arabic letter for “n” or “nuun” is spray-painted on Christian homes in Iraq. The “n” stands for “Nazarene” or “Christian.” ISIS terrorists spray-paint the homes with the letter to designate that Christians live there and subsequently, they are singled out for persecution and sometimes even death.

“We Are N” is the worldwide Christian community (and even non-Christians) taking a stand in solidarity with those running for their lives in Iraq and Syria.

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I went with my brother to the rally because I was so frustrated with the lack of action from our government to help those people. As it turned out, the United States would start airstrikes and aid drops on that same day, which is a good start, but more needs to be done.

After all, we are called by His name first. We are the “body of Christ.”  Those being massacred in Iraq and Syria are my brothers and sisters as much as if we had the same parents.

There was a rather large turn-out to the rally and I was moved by the different signs that were created by many Iraqi-American Christians showing solidarity with their families across the ocean.

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There were chants of “We are Christians until we die! We will not convert!” and “We want to live, but we will die for Christ!”

I was forced to take a hard look at my own faith. We here States-side cannot even contemplate the idea of someone telling us at gunpoint to either “convert or die.” We can’t imagine terrorists crucifying our children.

What would I do? What does my faith mean to me? What am I willing to give up? Would I give up my life?

Some of our brethren are living with those decisions every day.

I realized that day, Christianity is a faith where you have to be “all in” you’re not in at all. After all, wasn’t it the Lord who said, “…you are neither hot nor cold, so I will spit you out”? Confronted with fellow Christians who have family members who are losing their lives, it was humbling and very emotional. A little boy, who couldn't have been older than 10, held up a sign that read, “Mr. President, when will you help the Christian children like me?” I fought back tears on more than one occasion.

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Yet, I would have to say that I was dismayed by the lack of non-Iraqi Christians in attendance. There were some, but far too few.

Perhaps some of us hear about these things and grieve, but we aren’t quite sure what to do. We can’t even imagine a scenario on US soil where a gun would be shoved in our face and it would be demanded of us that we deny Christ or die. In that respect, I think that a lot of us put it out of our minds. But even passive denial of events doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. In fact, it’s aids in continuation of these atrocities against humanity.

Or maybe it’s a belief of what essentially amounts to, “Well, it’s prophesied that this would happen so….” Okay. That may be the case, but I firmly believe that it doesn’t mean that we should rest on our laurels and not act when we see these acts of barbarism.

After all, didn't Paul write to the Corinthian church saying, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” ~ 1 Cor 12:26.

I’m not trying to condemn any one particular leader of the faith, but the world is burning. I think we can all agree on that. Christians across the globe are dying because they love Jesus. And if the wolves are circling the flock, it’s the shepherd’s duty to protect them. Protecting one’s flock should include keeping them informed. By not addressing what’s happening to hundreds of thousands of Christians across the globe (or the systematic repression of Christianity in our own country) is doing the Church a terrible disservice.

It would be one thing if it were decreasing, but persecution of the Christian church is on the rise (not to mention the rise of anti-semitism.)

In fact, in my own interactions while trying to spread awareness about what’s happening to Christians, I've been met with either apathy or outright hostility.

One person on Twitter remarked, that inaction by world leaders was OK. Besides, "your God" was with the Iraqi Christians anyway, no? Yes? Or my personal favorite was a person who commented on YouTube who outright stated that the carnage was deserved because they were Christian.

It’s a sad day when human life means so little…

You know, at the end of the day, it’s really not about religion, it’s about humanity and the lack of action, even if it’s just speaking out about it, is disturbing to say the least.

It’s imperative now more than ever to be the Lord’s hands and feet as we are called to be. We need to stand up for what’s right.

Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn said, “When the world gets darker, the lights need to burn brighter.”

We’re supposed to be the light and salt of the earth. So let’s shine! Let’s get salty!

Some of us are afraid to put our names on the line, but I would remind those folks of the immortal words of Deitrich Bonehoeffer:

“Silence in the face of evil is in itself, evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak, is to speak. Not to act, is to act.”

If you can’t speak out, give to organizations who are on the ground who are struggling to provide for the tens of thousands of stranded and destitute refugees:

Open Doors

The Assyrian Church of the East Foundation

Voice of the Martyrs

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