Iraq (MNN) — Iraq is edging closer to becoming a failed state. The new parliament failed to elect a Speaker, which means no movement on choosing the new president, who names a presumptive prime minister. Essentially, Iraq has no functioning government, an active insurgency, and a Level 3 humanitarian crisis.
On Day 1 of Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria announced a Caliphate. A Mission Network News story about this alarming development got very little traction because many readers didn’t know what a caliphate was.
Todd Nettleton, spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs USA, explains that it’s an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph or a successor to Muhammad. “It’s basically an area that is controlled by them. They would lay down the law in the civil sense of what the regulations are and how the country works. They would also lay down the law religiously.”
This is having a direct impact on Christians in area. Most of them are either being subjected to unreal brutality or are fleeing. There is almost nothing left of a remnant church in Iraq. The stated goal of the Islamic State was to create a Caliphate, which is sounding familiar tones with similar insurgencies.
Both the Boko Haram and al-Shabaab have been wreaking havoc in Nigeria and Somalia, respectively. With the same objective governing the militants, what would happen if the three groups came together to increase the borders of the Caliphate in Iraq?
Nettleton doesn’t think that would be likely. He explains, “When you think about ISIS and Boko Haram or Boko Haram and al-Shabaab coming together and working together, can they come together in some things? Absolutely. Can they share expertise, can they share weaponry? Sure. But when it comes right down to who’s going to be in charge, that’s a very significant question. It would take some finesse for one of the leaders to really bow to the authority of another leader.”
Meanwhile, ISIS instituted the jizya, a poll tax, on Christians in the areas they control in an attempt to put pressure on them and displace them from the city. Tens of thousands chose to flee. The United Nations reports that over a million Iraqis have been displaced since January 2014. Right now, the most pressing need for the refugees and Internally Displaced Peoples are food, water, and shelter.
Nettleton says help is needed just to keep the survivors alive. “People here in the United States pack relief packs. We call them ‘Action Packs.’ We have delivered them into the Middle East, specifically targeting Christians who have left Iraq and left Syria.”
Here’s how it works: click the link to get started. If you want to fill the Action Pack, VOM will send you a special pre-printed vacuum bag to be filled with items you select from the list included with your pack. After you’re finished packing the bag, ship your Action Pack back to VOM, and they’ll distribute it along with a Bible or Gospel storybook to the country that currently needs Action Packs the most.
Nettleton adds, “We can provide Bibles, we can provide encouragement, and I think one of the key things that we do is serve as a voice for them. [We] tell their stories and remind the American Church: ‘These are our brothers and sisters. They are suffering. We need to be in prayer for them.’”
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).