6 Things You Can Do for Persecuted Christians in Iraq

This morning, across the ocean, a woman has just watched her little toddler be beheaded, and her husband hanged with rope, and tonight waits to be stripped naked by two filthy, bloodstained hands of an ISIS militant, who will molest, rape, and kill her.

It’s true. “They are systematically beheading Christian children, raping, and killing the wives, and hanging the husbands,” CNN reports in this must-see video.

For the first time in my life, I cannot ignore it. I can turn the channel, or leave the room, but there is still this un-ignorable weight in my heart. When I speak about it to my friends or family, and hear words like “beheading, raping, and hanging” come out of my mouth, I become too choked up to finish. The Holy Spirit keeps testifying one thing: this is real.

But why do I feel so different about this crisis than all the others that flood across the news feed?  Is a Christian life of more value than a Muslim, or Yazidi?  No.

Then why do I grieve for them more?

Perhaps it is because…

They are my brothers, they are my sisters.

I am connected to these ones.

Born of the same Spirit.

Even though I do not know their names, the sound of their voices, the depths of their eyes…

They are my people.
Through and through.

“These are my people!” Queen Esther cried out. As in, “My own flesh and blood!” When her people (the Jews) were being persecuted, her grief moved to compassion, and compassion moved to high-risk action that would ultimately save them.

God has given us humans this violent thing in our hearts called, “compassion.” But there is reason we feel; it is to drive us to action. Something is not right (be it, Christian persecution, or human trafficking, or people starving while we live in excess)—and God is calling us to do something.

But as so many have said, “What can I do? They’re so far away.”

There are 6 things you can do today:

1. Follow What is Happening
You can’t care about something until you know about it. I am notorious for being out of the news loop. People are repeatedly shocked that I “didn’t know” about major news events. But while I am chanting, “Ignorance is bliss,” people are dying. I often don’t see the point in following the ever-depressing news–because if I’m honest, how does it affect me? (I’m usually consumed with “my kingdom,” when I am called to be consumed with God’s.) Secondly, (though I sometimes wish it), I wasn’t born in the “Little House on the Prairie” era, I was born into this one for a God-ordained reason. What if God has a greater agenda for me than the chore chart that’s hanging on my fridge?

2. Involve Your Kids
I’d like to flash my “mom card” like an excuse for jury duty when it comes to following events outside the playroom or kitchen. And yet, part of motherhood is introducing my daughter to our big world, and to an even bigger God who can save it. It’s okay if my daughter sees me weep over the things God weeps over. Perhaps one day, she will be more inclined to do so as well. In terms of the Iraq persecutions, my toddler and I  have simply been praying for “babies” with “boo boos.” She understands that much.

3. Let Yourself Feel Something

Just like Jack Johnson expresses in his song, The News, “Why don’t the newscasters cry when they read about people who die?” It is easy to be numb to catastrophic events that are so far away. However, author Francis Chan gave such helpful insight in his book, “Forgotten God,” about how to let myself “feel” the weight of injustice right here in my living room:

When he first learned about the realities of children in the sex-slave trade industry, he stayed up in his hotel room and began to think: what if my own kids were captured by the sex-trade industry? He stayed up all night sobbing loudly for them. And the more he thought about it, the more passionate his resolve that there was nothing he wouldn’t do to rescue them. [And as a result gave all of the royalties from his book, Crazy Love, to the Isaiah 58 Fund.]

What if we started actually feeling persecution as if it were being done to our own sisters, our own brothers? Our own children?

For indeed, it is.

4. Pray.
We sing about the God of “Angel Armies,” but do we really believe that? Many feel that prayer is “passive,” when it may be the most active thing we can do for our Christian brothers and sisters overseas. We have no idea that God may be releasing those angel armies at our cries. What is “passive” is talking about praying and never actually doing it (which is what I am guilty of.) But when you engage in fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit will testify in your spirit, what you are doing is intensely active and important.

Remember who you are praying to. Our God is stronger than any military, government, or power in the universe. When He acts, who can stop it? (Is. 43:13) All through Scripture God defeats nations (2 Chronicles 20), strikes armies with blindness, and surrounds his people with angles and chariots of fire  (2 Kings 6), He parts seas (Heb. 11:29), provides food from heaven (Exodus 16), opens prison doors, and story after story, delivers His people. Can He not do it again?

5. Give.
You can donate money to Christian organizations in Iraq. A few legitimate ones are The Voice of the Martyrs (which gives Bibles with the aid), Open Doors and Christian Aid. I usually pass on these because I assume the money won’t get ever get there. But these are solid organizations, and these people need our help.

6. Raise Social Media Awareness

This is what I am doing right now. Many don’t know what’s going on, and will never read my words—but they will read your words. Because they know and trust you. If you have any type of social media account, you have the power to do this. What is God pressing on your heart to say about it? Share that.

You can also upload the picture below to your social media profile to show loyalty and stand with the persecuted Christians in Iraq. Click here to read more about the meaning of this symbol.

I heard yesterday that the only reason America is helping in Iraq, is because they are concerned about the oil and money in it. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. I don’t know what America’s agenda is about.

But I do know what God’s is about.
And He will advance His kingdom.
He will unite His people.
He will build His church.
And the neither the Islamic State, nor the gates of hell will prevail against it.

Your prayers, or offering, or awareness-spreading may be the only answer to an Iraqi sister’s prayer tonight

….as she lays in the dark on a cold floor with a knot in her stomach, waiting to be raped, clutching onto her last dying hope: not to deny Jesus Christ as Lord.

For when it’s all over, when that ISIS militant is all finished ravaging her body, and deems her “worthless,” and ends her life, by bullet or sword

…she will at last open her eyes to eternity, and see another Man standing before her.

The One who formed her. Who first uttered her name into existence. And knit her together in the secret place. She will look down, and no longer be naked, but clothed, in white. And his warm hand will wipe away all the tears from her eyes and heal all her wounds and whisper, “Before I formed you, I knew you, and you are Mine. Come, I have prepared a place for you at Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

 

Photo Credit

Frozen Pizza and the Crisis in Iraq

“What’s for dinner?” my husband asked. “Just pizza,” I replied, pointing to the box of frozen pizza on the counter. “Just pizza?” he said with a curious smile, implying my obvious ingratitude. “Okay,” I rolled my eyes, “We get to have pizza tonight!” I exclaimed in my most enthusiastic voice. (But not very convincingly.)

As I threw together a quick salad to go with it, my mind stayed glued on my husband’s implication. “Just pizza?”

My mind flashed to the news I heard that morning: Thousands of innocent people stranded on top of a mountain without food or water for seven days, waiting for rescue, or death.

Men, women, children, babies–hungry and thirsty. What they would give for even a morsel of any food. 

Every day I have food and water. I rate things like a frozen pizza ‘a kind of crappy dinner.’ I push my cart through aisles of food. Thousands of choices. Varieties. I can’t even decide there are so many choices. I can eat what I want, whenever I want. Without a thought.

60 children are confirmed dead on top of Mt. Sinjar tonight–from extreme temperatures, hunger, and thirst.

“Just pizza?”

I grieve for these little ones tonight. I have been given so much. Most of the world has so little. And I don’t even know it. They usually seem so far away. Like another world.

But tonight they seem so close.

I lay in my warm bed with my husband. My daughter sleeps across the hall in her crib–safe right now. Another report surfaces in my mind: hundreds of young women have been taken captive by the militants with “vicious” plans for them, and are being held in schools in Mosul, “most likely being abused in demeaning ways by the terrorists,” Amin reported, “to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values.”

Tears roll off my cheeks into my pillow. I lay in my bed wondering, what it would be like, to be one of them? What horrors do they face tonight?

My husband rolls over and tells me, “You’ve just been reading the news the last few days, Bekah. But this kind of stuff is going on all the time, all over the world.”

He is right. I hate that he is right. This is our world. The one Jesus came for. Because it’s broken and hurting and so very sick. Sometimes evil things can masquerade as beautiful ones…but sometimes the whole world turns and sees evil for what it is.

Urgency courses through my blood stream. And yet, I don’t know what to do. I pray desperately for their rescue. I ask God to send angels to war for them. To save them. I can’t stop thinking about them. Babies are dying of starvation and young girls are being raped. Every day. This is reality–even if I can’t see it.

I grow increasingly restless, unsure of what my hands can do, or my voice can speak, or my wallet can spend to help, help this injustice all over the world…to stop. I don’t know what I can do, but once I do, I hope to do it with all my might.

What can I do tonight? Tomorrow?

Stop complaining about things that are only “first world” preferences, and start being relentlessly grateful for what I have. Like food. Water. And that God has sustained me, and my family one more day on this earth.

This means: I need to not be picky about food. Not a little bit. Not ever. I need to never ever say again, “Just pizza.” I need to never apologize to my family or my dinner guests for what I am serving them.

Instead I will serve them whatever food God has supplied, like it’s the best meal on earth.

For, “godliness with contentment is great gain,” and, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6,8

We will hold hands and say “grace.” And mean it. By God’s grace we have been given this food, this water.

This life. For one more day.

 Photo Credit 

[I know this is a real and serious situation, not just in Iraq, but globally. And learning gratitude is only a small part. If you know of, or participate with any social justice organizations, or, can share any practical involvement or beneficial resources, please share in the comments section.]

When Writing is Seeing

“You can talk to God this way,” she said, then handed me a black composition journal and a new pen as we sat in Sunday School class. I did not know the power then, of what she had given me, of what was in my hands. Of words.

That words have life-giving power.

Since I was twelve, I have been scribbling down my thoughts, prayers, dreams, and nightmares in a journal. From junior high gel pens to more grown-up Barnes & Noble types…I cannot count how much I have written or how many journals I have gone through. Stacks.

Writing is how I engage with God. Pour out my heart. Get my bearings. But more than anything: to see. 

To see, is a beautiful gift. And when I stop writing, I stop seeing.  Stop looking for God, stop listening for Him. I go blind so quickly to all He is doing, all He has given me, all He is calling me to.

But to write, is to see. And to see, is to see Christ, high and lifted up.

Here at Barren to Beautiful, the goal is to listen and look for God’s beauty permeating through all of our current life. To see beyond the barrenness, the empty, the want. To put our gaze on Christ, the opener of our eyes. So that we will not walk away empty, or thirsty–but full. And satisfied in God.

I was recently featured by a beautiful blogger named Sasha at MomLife Now. She is one of my dear blogging friends who often helps me to see the glory all around me. She has this incredible ability to magnify small mundane moments into take-your-breath-away sacred ones. She is a true writer who becomes still enough to hear, to see the beauty. It’s amazing how reading about her world, actually makes me love mine more. You can check out a favorite, “Forever My Passion” here or by clicking the photo below.

Part of participating in this blog hop is to feature another blog you simply love.

I am thrilled to point you to Jeanne Harrison at Loving My Lot, the first blogger I ever fell head-over-heels for. Her blog, Loving My Lot, is all about embracing. Embracing Jesus. Your kids. Your husband. Your world currently. However glamorous (or unglamorous) it may seem.

If you want a refreshingly honest voice on the real issues today’s women/mother’s/wives face: read her blog. I have read many books written for today’s Christian women, and I have yet to find a voice this clear, piercing, and genuine (and might I add…enjoyable?).  I stumbled upon her as a new mom, with her post Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming, but was hooked ever since. She is like a really wise friend, who is not afraid to (hilariously and humbly) tell it like it is. And yet with wisdom, hope, and joy point you toward Christ. She offers everything from book reviews to topics like fearful parenting, romancing your husband, and being intentional with your kids and even practical advice on developing a schedule and taking care of your home. Her words are a continual joy and strength to me. And reading her words have helped me not only embrace, but enjoy what God has given me.

Dear sisters, wherever you are today, whether you are blind to the blessings, or gratefully aware of them: choose to see, and to keep seeing. Whether it’s reading, or writing. Whatever it takes. Listen closely.

You have a God who is speaking. Who can open eyes that are blind. Ears that are deaf. With His words. Words that create worlds. Words that heal wounds. Words that have life-giving power.

Words that help you see.