Praying for Christians persecuted by ISIS — Mother’s Day 2016

 
Everybody’s sharing their Mother’s Day pictures on Facebook today…but this is the image that I can’t get out of my head. It’s a young Iraqi mom gripping her two children. They’re inside a helicopter. They’re escaping from ISIS. Look at it. The terror on the kid’s face. And the mom – what had she just seen? How was she going to tell her kids “it would all be okay?”

I came across the picture because I was trying to process something I had read in an article entitled, “Christian Genocide: Emerging Stories Of Islamic State Victims Unbelievably Brutal.”

In testimony given at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, during a special congress on religious freedom, a survivor of ISIS brutality talked about what she had seen and heard, persecution against Christians. Don’t read it. It will choke you. A mother begging for time and jihadists setting fire to her house anyway, killing her daughter. Beatings. Executions. A 9 year old girl raped to death. A mother forced to eat her own child. Your mind bends. You just want to vomit. How…why…what…how do you process that?

As I researched more, I found the article with the picture.”US Ally Turkey Has ‘Aided and Abetted’ ISIS, Terror Groups That Kill Christians, Activist Say.”


And I just sat at my computer staring over at the red rose from church in a vase on the table and back at the picture of the Iraqi mom with her kids in the helicopter. Look at that kid’s face. What had the mom just witnessed?


In it, Mindy Belz, senior editor at World Magazine, talks about how Turkey is tacitly supporting ISIS. Hindering humanitarian aid to Iraq and Syria. How the refugee camps in Turkey are closed to the Red Cross and journalists aren’t allowed inside. How Yazidi and Christian migrants are afraid to go into the camps…because they are really prison camps. How even those who have some power to stop these murderers are actually aiding and abetting them.

And I just sat at my computer staring over at the red rose from church in a vase on the table and back at the picture of the Iraqi mom with her kids in the helicopter. Look at that kid’s face. What had the mom just witnessed?


Unrelenting sorrow. That is what the Church in so many Islamic regions faces. Torment. Suffering. Emotional and spiritual grief. And what they need so desperately is the Word that brings life. The Word made Flesh.


Then the words of John 20 came to mind. Now Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb…

She was weeping, shaking, the waves of grief ripped out of her in sobs. Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had freed from seven demons. She knew slavery. She knew demonic oppression. She knew that the crucifixion of Jesus, His death, was the death of hope and the death of life and the death of healing. She screamed and wept and grieved so deeply because she knew how desperate her situation was without Jesus. If He was gone, then she was vulnerable. If they had killed the Healer, then there was no hope for the sick.

But then it all changes. Jesus meets her outside the tomb. His presence changes everything. My pastor had just preached from this passage. He said that unrelenting sorrow only turns to inexpressible joy when we hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us personally through His Word. That’s what happens for Mary. It isn’t until Jesus says her name that she realizes He isn’t the gardener. It isn’t until she listens to His voice that her sorrow turns to joy.

Unrelenting sorrow. That is what the Church in so many Islamic regions faces. Torment. Suffering. Emotional and spiritual grief. And what they need so desperately is the Word that brings life. The Word made Flesh. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4). Because the only real answer to darkness is light. The only real answer to death is resurrection. Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.

So I began praying for the scared mom in the helicopter. I prayed to the One who never feels helpless, to the Commander of Heaven’s armies, to the Judge who is right in all His thinking, to the King who has ALL the power to do ALL of His will. I prayed for my Sovereign King to give that mom access to a Bible, and for His Spirit to bring her soul alive with His Word. I prayed for parents, for pastors, for humanitarian workers…I went through the articles and prayed for my brothers and sisters being crushed by ISIS to know something that only the Alpha and Omega can give: HOPE.

O God, may they know that You are the Creator – and You are the Recreator. The tomb is empty. Death is not the end. And when the dying is slow and awful and barbaric, You are not absent. You are not blind. Savage brutality and murder and unspeakable horror. That is Calvary. You know it well. You are there. Jesus alone had to taste Your wrath and abandonment as He died. Father, remind Your suffering people that Your Son has died in their place. Because of Him, at their suffering and dying, You are sustaining and enabling them to die well. So that they may be raised to glory. And when they are in Your presence, face to face, they will know restoration and wholeness, justice and joy, and unending peace. Father, please anchor Your people in these promises. Remind them of their future. Fill them with hope. A hope that cannot be killed or defiled, because the cross is bloody and the tomb is empty.
Amen

The next time you read about the savage, gut-wrenching barbarity of ISIS, take a minute. Reflect on how poisonous it is when men worship a false god.

Humble your heart and remind it that God is not absent, and He lets the nations rage only as fits His plan.

And then pray with me for His Word, His Voice, to change their unrelenting sorrow into inexpressible joy.

Smyrna Ministries International's photo.

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