August 14, 2014
Canadian Conference of MB Churches executive director Willy Reimer is encouraging all Mennonite Brethren churches to join together this Sunday, Aug. 17, in united prayer for the people of Iraq.
The UN has just declared its highest level of emergency in Iraq, estimating that 1.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced due to armed conflict. (Other countries with the same status are Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.)
The day of prayer is being coordinated via Facebook – a call echoed by the World Evangelical Alliance – where organizers have written the following: “We live in a time of great persecution against followers of our Lord Jesus in very many places in the world. More people are paying a great price for their commitment to Christ now than any other time in the life of his Church. We must talk openly both with God and with each other about this dreadful present persecution reality. And we must start with effectual, fervent prayer.
“Recently, a militant group called the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) has been gaining power in Iraq. A spin off from Al-Qaeda, IS is known for it’s brutal violence and persecution against Christians and other religious minorities.
“On July 19, a group of IS militants in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul (the ancient biblical region of Nineveh) gave an ultimatum with a deadline to the cities nearly 500,000 Christians; convert to Islam or be killed. Nearly all of those Christians made a decision to flee before the deadline, leaving their homes and lives behind.
“Over the past three weeks there have been various reports detailing the gruesome violence that IS is carrying out toward those who did not escape in time, including mass executions, beheadings, and crucifixions. Many local Christian leaders are calling it the Holocaust of the 21st Century.
“As a result of the violence, Church leaders in Iraq have chosen Sunday, August 17 a day of prayer for Iraq and Iraqi Christians. It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of such violence and tragedy, but we can come together with our Iraqi brothers and sisters by joining them in prayer and bringing their struggles to the One who reigns over all.”
Along with prayer, North American Christians can take action by supporting humanitarian aid partners working in the region, such as MCC or World Vision Canada (helping the children of Syria who are also being forced to flee as refugees).
–Canadian Conference of MB Churches release