Iraq (MNN) — The UN Refugee Agency is predicting another 250,000 people could be fleeing Mosul as Iraqi troops move in on ISIS in the western part of the city. This is greater than the 160,000 who have already fled from Mosul.
Local news sources report that ISIS promises to take action on anyone trying to leave western Mosul.
The refugee crisis moves back into the spotlight with recent arguments surrounding the United State’s stance on refugee entry. Various sides have been stated on the scale of national security and compassion.
Regardless of the different standpoints, the refugee crisis very real, and it’s not going anywhere soon.
The UN estimates there are over 65 million displaced people worldwide. Just over 20 million have refugee status, meaning they had to leave their country of origin entirely.
With another large number of lives about to be added to this group of vulnerable people, we asked Tom Doyle of e3 Partners about the problem and the ways we can respond.
He says, “We’ve been working with refugees for six years. It’s unbelievable what they have gone through and the stories are just heartbreaking — some of the worst things we’ve ever heard happened to human beings. Truly some of the stories are worse than what we [heard] out of WWII with Hitler and the Nazis.”
No doubt you’ve also heard stories of the atrocities both Muslims and religious minorities like Christians have faced under the hand of ISIS and other terrorist groups. These people are running from real danger, often towards other perils within poorly resourced camps. With these stories, there is a growing sense of fear around the world.
But in the face of fear, it’s extremely important to accurately define the enemy. First and most obvious, there is danger from terrorist groups like ISIS.
Doyle says, “We don’t minimize terrorism and the need for security — we understand that. But we don’t need to be obsessed with it. The Gospel is never in retreat. We’re never called to a time of passivity. The Gospel’s always moving forward.”
And this brings to mind the spiritual enemy we face. More than ever, Muslims are open to the Gospel and the potential for people to come to Christ is huge.
“What is happening, I believe, is the enemy is trying to keep Christians away from Muslims. Let’s get them afraid of Muslims, let’s get them angry at Muslims, let’s even get them to hate Muslims.”
That is why the Church must step in to help, whether it’s right here in the United States or abroad.
“For decades we prayed for the 10/40 Window to be reached — that’s that Islamic belt of the world and the unreached and unengaged. We prayed for that. Well guess what? The 10/40 Window is right outside our window now,” Doyle explains.
In other words, maybe we are the missionaries we’ve been praying for all along. And what happens if we as the Church don’t respond at all?
“If we ignore them, there is a greater chance that they get radicalized because it’s going to prove to them exactly what their imams said back in Iraq and Syria — you can’t trust the Christians, they hate us.”
There are so many ways to reach out and help refugees and people in need. With e3 Partners, you can support international ministry to these people, or you can even go yourself. Check out opportunities here.
And finally, you can pray. E3 has a Facebook page, 8thirty8, which gives you up-to-date prayer requests from countries like Syria, Iraq and other places where chaos, conflict, and persecution are heavy. Check it out here.