Western Christians have been shell-shocked by the ISIS (Islamic State) holocaust against our fellow Christians in the Middle East, and have little idea how to respond, beyond prayer and some giving to relevant charities. That, at least, is how I see things.
So a timely new book is relevant. It is “Defying ISIS” by Johnnie Moore, an American author, business executive and religious freedom activist.
The book spells out in grisly detail some of the ISIS activities – the chapter on how the group has been enslaving girls and women is particularly hard to read – and makes it clear that Christians are a particular target.
ISIS itself may have made the headlines only in the past couple of years, but since at least 2003 Islamists have been targeting Iraqi churches. In Baghdad alone, 40 of the 65 churches have been bombed.
In October 2014 the cover of an ISIS magazine depicted St Peter’s Square in the Vatican with a black jihadist flag superimposed. ISIS leaders have repeatedly proclaimed their intention to march to Rome, which they view as the global center of Christianity.
In the words of the book: “ISIS is unabashed at their desire to eliminate Christianity altogether. This isn’t just a part of their plan. It is the heart of it.”
I suspect a military response is the only real answer, but what can ordinary Christians do? Moore stresses the importance of education. When we understand what is happening we are much more likely to start trying to help. We will also be able to speak authoritatively to others.
He briefly tells the story of “a relatively small group of Christians who educated themselves and cared enough to raise their voices” and helped more than 72,000 refugees, driven from their homes by ISIS, to survive the 2014 winter.
He also urges Christians to speak up on this issue and to pressure their governments, as well as praying and giving.
This is a short book and a quick read (though not an easy read, given the grim content matter). With Christianity under threat of eradication in the land of its birth, it is vital that all Christians understand the issues. “Defying ISIS” is an excellent starting point.