It was one year ago today that 120,000 Christians living in the Nineveh Plain abandoned their homes and possessions and fled before the brutal advance of the Islamic State.
Speaking with Aid to the Church in Need, Father Douglas Bazi called August 6, 2014 "a day of sorrow, but also the day that God saved us." He went on to say:
We cannot forget what happened. However, we will ask God to forgive the perpetrators and to change their thinking. We feel the power of people’s prayers. This is the only reason we can continue. As the members of one body of Christ it is our responsibility to be there for one another. The Church in Mesopotamia is confronted with evil. Please pray that my people will be able to stand firm in the face of the devil!
Remembering this tragic anniversary, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote to His Excellency the Most Reverend Maroun Lanham, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem and Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan, "to reach with a word of hope so many people who oppressed by violence, have been forced to abandon their homes and their land." He continued, saying:
Time and time again I have wished to give voice to the atrocious, inhuman and inexplicable persecutions of those, who in many parts of the world – and especially amongst Christians – are victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and in the silence of all. They are the martyrs of today, humiliated and discriminated against for their faith in the Gospel.My words, which appeal for solidarity, are the sign of a Church that does not forget and that does not abandon her children who have been exiled on account of their faith: they must know that a daily prayer is raised for them, and that we are grateful for the witness they offer.My thoughts also go to the Communities that have not looked away and are taking care of these brothers of ours. You proclaim the resurrection of Christ by sharing the pain and by giving help to hundreds of thousands of refugees. Bowing before the misery that risks stifling their hope, your fraternal service illuminates the dark moments of their existence.
These words of the Holy Father bring a few questions to mind that each of us ought to prayerfully consider:May the Lord reward you as only He can, with an abundance of gifts.And may world opinion be more attentive, sensitive and sympathetic before the persecutions carried out against Christians, and in general, against religious minorities.I renew my hope that the international community will not assist in silence without taking action in the face of this unacceptable crime, a crime that constitutes an alarming drift from the most basic of human rights which prevents a rich cohabitation between peoples, cultures and faiths.Please, I ask you to pray for me.
May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.
- Have I forgotten the Iraqi Christians?
- Do I pray each day for the persecuted Christians in Iraq and elsewhere?
- Am I grateful for the witness they offer?
- Do I seek to follow Christ more faithfully because of their witness?
- Do I share their pain?
- What am I doing help the thousands of refugees?
Some months ago I posted a few prayers for persecuted Christians to help you remember them before the Lord. I've also posted a few worthy charities through which you can help support those who have lost so much because they refuse to abandon Christ. Please do what you can to assist them, both spiritually and financially.