Have you seen this symbol increasingly appearing on social media sites?
This one-eyed smiley face is actually the Arabic letter “N” which stands for Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian, since Jesus is from Nazareth.
It’s been an incredible privilege to work in the Middle East on and off for the last 23 years (my husband, Rich) and 16 years (me). Each country in the land where Jesus once walked is attached to people we know and love. (Our son was not given the name David Jordan because we love basketball.) Each country has gone in and out of seasons of ‘peace.’ So watching the news…well, it’s personal.
If you’ve seen updates in the last few weeks, you know that ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, (al-Sham means Syria) has been painting this symbol on the door of the houses of Christians in Mosul, Iraq with 3 choices: convert to Islam, pay a very high tax, or die. The atrocities are evil and horrific. Children are not exempt. It’s systematic. Executions. Beheadings. Crucifixions.
So while I ‘struggle’ to write this post in my soft, ruffled pajamas from Buckhead, Atlanta, drinking my favorite Houston coffee from Texas, our brave friends in Iraq are struggling to comfort families who are facing unfathomable horrors. Today our Christian friends in Iraq, some of the most courageous and selfless people we know, will struggle to feed the thousands of refugees who are sleeping on the street because the churches and schools are already filled up. Thousands of Christians and other persecuted groups have ended up in their backyard, a more northern region of Iraq. They’ve left everything in hopes of sparing their lives, and they will likely never get it back.
Many American friends have asked us in the last few days what they can do, and we wanted to provide some resources. Although this situation is darker, scarier, and bigger than we can wrap our minds or hearts around, we can make a difference. Mother Teresa said, “if you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” She is right. So what can we do?
STAY INFORMED. Keep your news diversified to avoid misinformation. A few suggestions:
PRAY. Our prayers do matter. An American friend working hard in the Northern Region of Iraq wrote me a treasured email this morning and said, “Truly the greatest work to be done is on our knees. Your knees just happen to be on American soil, but we are laboring together.” Tears.
GIVE. Give to Christian workers in the region who are administering care and humanitarian aid as well as to organizations providing the aid. Rich and I feel strongly about giving to the workers distributing the aid as well as to the aid in general. We want to know that long after the distribution trucks have left, that the long-term emotional and spiritual needs of the people will be met by people who speak their heart language.
CREATE AWARENESS. Meaningful conversations and social media make a difference.
At times, the problems of our world can feel overwhelming. Where do we find hope in it all?
Learn how to offer others a share of the grace you have received.
I don’t know how to respond as a white American Christian who is part of the majority culture. I can’t fully understand the pain or the depth of the wounds. But I’m still hurting.
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