Sometimes I feel helpless. Like I’m caught in the middle of a bad dream I can’t wake up from or have found myself, hands tied, staring into the face of evil. This is the way I have felt over the past several weeks as I have read the news reports, seen the photos, watched the videos and heard time and time again about the heinous war scene that is raging in Syria and Iraq. I think the most common response to large scale injustice in other parts of the world is to throw your hands in the air and do nothing. To sit back and watch and shake your head in pity and think, “Boy I wish there was something I could do.” I have to admit. I am guilty. That has been my response for quite some time now regarding the war in Iraq. But just last Friday, during an evening chat with some of my girlfriends about the horror that is taking place there I realized, our hands are not tied. The truth is, there is something we all can do. And not only can we, but we must! What I realized that night is it is not an option… It should never be an option to sit back and watch others suffer while we have the mind and capability to act.
Let me back up, in case you are not fully clear on what I’m talking about, here’s a brief update. The Middle East is in the midst of several convoluted battles that are claiming the lives of thousands and transforming the scape of both political and religious power there. It is a virtual bloodbath and much of the attention, rightly so, has been put on a Jihadist Militant group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) who is in the midst of building strongholds all throughout Iraq & Syria with the ultimate aim of creating their own nation. They are extremist Sunni Arabs that want strict Shiria law and claim religious authority over all Muslims.
They are demanding anyone who does not convert to Islam to be killed–hanged, beheaded, raped and murdered. Christians and members of the Yazidi community are being targeted. Most recently when ISIS moved into Yazidi towns they reportedly buried some people alive and took hundreds of women as slaves They are also beheading children and adults and placing their heads on poles all over the country. As a result, thousands have fled up to the mountains, where they have been struggling to survive. They’ve been dying of thirst and hunger and many have even pushed their children off of the sides of the mountain, as that seems a better alternative than being raped, buried alive or beheaded. They’re a big part of the reason the US started “targeted airstrikes” and delivering humanitarian aid to Iraq last week – and why two days ago, the Pentagon said it’s sending an extra 130 US military advisers to help. Here is a powerful video of one Yazidi member of Iraqi Parliament speaking up for the crisis and for her people.
It is being called a modern day genocide and rightly so. So I suppose, this is my question. Why do we feel like we can do nothing? Perhaps it’s simple naivety and confusion. But simply by reading this post, you can no longer claim you do not know. Simply by seeing the pictures and the news updates and the reports, you have seen and therefore are responsible (James 2:14). I am not talking here about some guilt complex and spending every waking minute fighting for this evil. But I am talking about doing what is in your means. I am talking about not being silent. Getting the word out. Praying. Fasting. Advocating. Giving. Live your life by all means, but live it aware and do what is in your ability and within your means to do. Practically speaking, here are some ways that you can help fight this evil.
1. Pray – This often is hugely underestimated and undervalued even in the church. Prayer is powerful. We need to pray. We must pray. Thousands right now, on the other side of the globe, are living in literal hell. It is the least we can do, to take our thoughts off of our own pursuits and routine for one moment, if not much more, to pray. If you are a leader of a business, a church, a nonprofit, any organization, you can tell your team to pray. I was so thankful last Sunday when my pastor took a break in our morning worship service to pray specifically for the war in Iraq. It was powerful. You can also fast, whether it be from food or music or TV. Whatever it is, you can give that one thing up for a time, and pray for those in the Middle East.
2. Give- Voice of Martyrs (VOM), is an inter-denominational organization, currently assisting 2,000 Christians in Iraq by sending humanitarian items like clothing, water and food supplies. Members of the public are encouraged to donate to VOM through the organization’s donation page. You can also donate through an organization called Christian Aid here.
3. Use your social media – Social media gets a lot of flack when it comes to sharing anything political. But the way I see it in a crisis like this, is its a powerful tool to be a voice for those who won’t be heard. Don’t be scared to use your platform. All of us, no matter how small or how large our platform, has a position to inspire movement and inspire change. Help spread the word!
I am reminded here of a lyric from the song Albertine by one of my favorite artists, Brooke Fraser. The lyric is, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead”. It was inspired by the passage James 2:14-26. We are all responsible to do our part no matter how big or how small. Let’s be faithful in this.