This week, the “Voice of the Martyrs” (VOM) Magazine has sparked my interest in the Middle East and ISIS. The contents of this magazine which I have received for years will kindle a fire in your heart for the suffering Christians in an unbelieving world. (To subscribe to VOM, call 1-800-747-0085, or write to them at P.O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443).
Just in the last year, VOM has delivered 70, 231 Bibles to Christians in Iraq and Syria. 18,889 families have been assisted as well. You can help support this mission with your generous contributions.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, Islamic State, or Daesh, is a jihadist extremist, militant group and self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate led primarily by Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, and has nominal control over small areas of Libya,Nigeria and Afghanistan. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including North Africa, and South Asia. The ISIS group members hate Christians.
What is a caliphate you ask? A caliphate is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph -a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community.
On 29 June 2014, the group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph, and renamed itself ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah . As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that “the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the caliphates’ authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.”
ISIS fighters move into villages and terrorize Christians who may live there. They steal “family money and belongings, close up their houses and paint the Arabic letter “N” on the home indicating Nassarah, or “Christian.”
“You have to convert to Muslim,” they tell the Christians in the villages. “If you will not convert to Islam, we will kill you—all of you.”
Christians are told to leave Iraq, or convert to Islam, or pay a heavy tax or be killed.
In spite of the hardships and chaos caused by this extremist group, there are opportunities for the albeit small Christian church in Iraq. For example, there have been larger numbers of Muslim youths leaving Islam after learning how the Quran inspired ISIS and its slaughter of Christians. Many of these youth eventually realize they still need God in their lives. “They start seeking, and when they get a Bible, they start reading about the real God and how God is love. He doesn’t kill innocent people. He doesn’t hate Muslims.”
Christian in Iraq have asked us to pray for the church in Iraq and the people of Iraq. And also to pray for our government, that is would be wise in how it deals with ISIS.” God is somehow using this awful war in the Middle East to bring saving grace to His people.
Did you know that tragedy in the Middle East regarding the Arab nations is referenced in Genesis Chapter 16? This will be discussed in the next blog. We will also discuss the difference between Sunnis and Shiites in the Muslim (Islamic) world.