Hollywood power couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey continue to create immensely popular TV shows and feature films, but the duo are also moving into a pivotal new role: providing life-saving humanitarian aid for displaced Christians in the Middle East.
Honoree's Mark Burnett and Roma Downey attends the Anti-Defamation League Entertainment Industry Dinner honoring Roma Downey and Mark Burnett at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 8, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (John M. Heller/Getty Images)
Teaming up with the Institute for Global Engagement, Burnett and Downey have launched the Cradle of Christianity Fund, an effort to raise $25 million to provide resources to Middle Eastern minorities who have been displaced from their homes by Islamic State militants.
Considering that the cold winter months are nearing, the coalition is working fervently to raise funds to be distributed through churches in Iraq and Syria and nearby countries in an effort to offer assistance to individuals and families dire need.
"This initial gift will be used exclusively to rescue those in immediate need while simultaneously beginning a process of restoration and healing through the documentation of both the atrocities inflicted upon their communities, and the stories of hope and courage found amidst such unspeakable tragedy," reads the official website for the fund.
The effort was launched after Burnett and Downey recently reached out to Institute for Global Engagement president Dr. Chris Seiple and expressed their urge to help Christians in need, with the parties agreeing to work together in an effort to "rescue, restore, and return" those displaced by extremism and violence.
In preparing to implement the plan, Seiple traveled with Johnnie Moore, chief-of-staff for Burnett and Downey, last week to Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan, where the two assessed displaced Christians' needs after being separated from their homes and terrorized at the hands of brutal Islamic State militants.
"Having fled their home with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and having seen unspeakable things, these brothers and sisters in Christ are severely traumatized, mostly without shelter, and winter is coming," Moore wrote in a message posted on the site. "Their suffering is immense."
An even clearer picture of what displayed Christians are facing in Iraq and Syria, though, is presented in a report prepared by Seiple. It reads, in part:
While the numbers continue to climb rapidly, at present there are more than 800,000 [internally displaced people] in Northern Iraq alone (Iraqi Kurdistan) many of whom are living on the streets, in churches, or in abandoned buildings.
Nearly all of these men, women, and children have insufficient accommodations to survive the harsh Iraqi winter, as the aid community struggles to find solutions and resources. For example, by the UN’s own account, if it operates at maximum efficiency in Northern Iraq, it will only be able to provide shelter and provisions for 40% of the IDPs in Iraqi Kurdistan alone much less the other IDPs across the country (for example, when Anbar Province fell to the terrorists last week, 160,000 more Iraqis fled their homes). We are focused on the displaced and refugee Christians, and the communities that they serve.
From renting accommodations to winterizing temporary homes, the $25 million multi-faith effort will go toward ensuring that these displaced individuals are protected during the harsh and frigid weather, while also offering up educational tools, among other essential acts of assistance.
Over the past few months, TheBlaze has extensively covered the Islamic State's horrific acts against Christians and Yazidis, among others.
(H/T: Christianity Today)