If you have been paying attention to what is happening in the Middle East in recent months, you will note that those who are Christians are being brutally murdered, women and girls raped and forced into marriage, experiencing all kinds of torture, and hundreds of thousands have been forced out of their homes and countries. We are seeing communities who date to the 1st Century with their Christian presence being totally annihilated and killed. Historic churches, holy sites, and tombs are being completely destroyed - all in the name of Allah.
In Syria many of our brothers and sisters are engulfed by an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Areas of Aleppo that are home to around 400,000 Christians have been besieged and surrounded by the rebels for months. Many Christians have become malnourished owing to shortages and skyrocketing prices of food and other essentials. Access to water, electricity and communications is very limited. Hundreds of thousands of other Syrians have fled to Jordan where they are living in poverty and confined in tent cities and cardboard homes.
In Iraq hundreds of thousands of believers have fled their homes, reducing the Christian population to a quarter of the size it was in 1990. Many took refuge in Syria or Lebanon, while others are internally displaced in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which once provided relative peace and stability. But Iraqi Christian refugees are no longer safe in Syria, as anti-Christian violence threatens all Christians in the country, while Iraqi Kurdistan is now also seeing escalating tensions; Christians also struggle to find work to support themselves there. Recent events in Mosul have seen the city's Christian population totally exterminated by murder or the evacuation of Christians. Pictures of heads of Christians hanging from telephone wires, crucifixions, and other acts of brutality are heart-wrenching.
This brutality is being led by a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Their goal is to reinstate the Islamic caliphate and rule the whole of the Middle East and eventually the world by Sharia Law. Their tactics are pure evil, and they will stop at nothing to accomplish their purposes.
I am writing asking you to do several things. As Christians in the West, it is appalling how most of our government leaders and the secular press have been silent. It is a genocide and humanitarian crisis of the likes we have not seen since WWII. We must not be silent!
1) Would you join me in prayer for our sisters and brothers? Would you in your personal prayers and in the Prayers of the People pray for those being persecuted, those doing the persecuting, and for a solution? Would you pour out your heart in prayer and fasting before God on their behalf? See attached prayers.
2) Would you call or write your government representatives and ask them to do something to help the situation? They will not attempt to help if they don't think you care. Right now, they don't think you care.
3) The following ministries are engaged in helping refugees. Please offer them your prayers and support.
Barnabas Fund -- "The mission of the Barnabas Fund is to support Christians where they are in a minority and suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith."
Voice of Ishmael (via Commission to Every Nation) -- Bringing hope that changes communities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Christ Church Jerusalem - Ministering to Refuges of the Crisis. Please write "Iraqi refugees" in the memo line.
Please join me in interceding on behalf of our Christian sisters and brothers.
Your brother at the Foot of the Cross,
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
Heavenly Father, we bring before you today the people of Syria and Iraq, asking you to be their defender and help in their time of need. Walk with them in their suffering and loss, and give them strength to face the days ahead. We pray for release of the captives and freedom for those held hostage. We pray for your intervention against the violence and evil against your people. We pray for your provision for the hungry, the homeless, and the bereaved. We pray for you to help your people who are called by your Name, Jesus' Name, and it is in His Name we ask these things. Amen.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Edited from the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, especially in Syria and Iraq; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.