About 100,000 Christians have been forced to abandon their villages in Iraq due to Islamic State attacks.
These individuals — including children — face rape, beheadings, child soldiering and all forms of human degradation — specifically because they’re Christian. In fact every Christian in the areas conquered by the Islamic State received a letter targeting them for their faith.
The letter that they [Islamic State] sent out with those three items, said convert, pay a fine or die. [Many Christians paid the fine] but after they paid a fine, they [Islamic State militants] actually took over their wives and their daughters and made them into their wives. So really it's convert or die, face death by the sword…
Islamic State militants are bent on killing every Christian in their sight.
Iraqi Yazidis, who fled their homes when Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar, gather inside a building under construction where they found refuge on August 10, 2014 in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. 'The Kurdish peshmerga forces have succeeded in making 30,000 Yazidis who fled Mount Sinjar, most of them women and children, cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan,' said Shawkat Barbahari, a Kurdhish official who is in charge of the Fishkhabur crossing with Syria. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
These events may be 10,000 miles away from U.S. soil today. However, the Islamic State is openly threatening the U.S. and has declared they “We will hang the flag of Allah over the White House.”
Their plan is simple: conquer people-by-people, region-by-region, country-by-country, continent-by-continent, until they have complete control. They are coming. For anyone thinking I am whooping up a scare-tactic approach, stop reading me and study history.
This radical, hostile form of invasion and forced religion — or be raped and killed — is not just in Iraq, or the Middle East. It permeates Europe and Africa.
I’ve spent the last decade-plus working in Sudan and South Sudan. I’ve experienced the exact same tactics there.
“In the six-decade-long storm of persecution and genocide from [North] Sudan to South Sudan rape is clearly a weapon of war, along with slavery and mass murder of innocent men, women, and children — all in an attempt to wipe out indigenous black, Christian Africans — making way for this radical, invading, Arabic-Muslim faction who has control of Sudan. Christian women are commonly told, 'This is so you cannot make Christian babies,' as they’re being raped with sticks and their uterus torn out.”
All this begs the question: “If we do care, and want to be not only informed, but also wise in how to respond, what do we do?”
We could launch more inanely futile airstrikes, designed to win elections, inflate egos, and line wallets. Or, we could look for another way, one which might cost us Believers temporal comfort.
An Iraqi Yazidi, who fled her home when Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar, sits next to a baby inside a building under construction where Yazidis found refuge on August 10, 2014 in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. 'The Kurdish peshmerga forces have succeeded in making 30,000 Yazidis who fled Mount Sinjar, most of them women and children, cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan,' said Shawkat Barbahari, a Kurdhish official who is in charge of the Fishkhabur crossing with Syria. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
What if, instead of sending our troops to blow up these places and leave, we use them to protect and invest in those who deeply know the cost of war — and receive no kickbacks from it … women and children. These desperate ones — especially widows and orphans — are motivated to strongly desire and work for the collective good of the whole, not the one.
Women usually do the majority of the plowing, planting, tending and harvesting in South Sudan, but the war keeps them displaced and on the run with no fields to work. What if our presence focused on keeping the widows safe and providing them with seeds and basic tools?
What if we adopted the orphans, ensuring them food, water, education and health care, while allowing them to stay in their homeland to work side-by-side with the widows for a better tomorrow?
What if we thought beyond immediate financial and politically-motivated solutions and grappled with an eternal perspective of lasting transformation on lives and peoples. Isn’t that what our faith is all about?
Kimberly L. Smith is the president and co-founder of Make Way Partners, the only indigenously operated anti-trafficking organization in [North] Sudan and South Sudan. For more information, please visit www.makewaypartners.org.
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