Messages from the Persecuted Church
March 17, 2017
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When ISIS kidnapped and murdered 21 men in early 2015, all but one of them were Coptic Christians from Egypt. The 21st man was Mathew Ayairga, a citizen of Chad, who, upon seeing the faith of the Christian men as they faced death declared, “Their God is my God.” His choice to lay down his life in the name of Christ continues to inspire Middle Eastern Christians more than two years later as they suffer the effects of violence, oppression, and persecution in their region.
I recently had the privilege of hearing an address given by Ignatius Aphrem II, the 123rd Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. The Patriarch escaped an assassination attempt last June by a suicide bomber who took the lives of three of his bodyguards. In spite of the challenges and threats he faces, the Patriarch continues his ministry on behalf of Christians in the Middle East.
In his address, the Patriarch suggested several ways that Christians in North America can support Christians in Syria and Iraq.
Since March 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that from Syria alone there have been:
But in the midst of such chaos, Christians refuse to be defined by the single story that their region can be characterized by violence. They have hope.
Sister Maria Hanna serves in Iraq, working to sustain faith in the midst of crisis. Sister Hanna and the Dominican Sisters that she works alongside have established an orphanage and a Kindergarten to serve refugees. When asked whether she would serve Muslims, Sister Hanna replied, “We do not serve because they are Christians. We serve because we are Christians.”
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Thank you for your post! I appreciate all of your points.
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