Middle East (MNN) — Two Christians are reportedly among the 216 captives freed yesterday in Iraq by ISIS. According to Reuters, hundreds of Yazidi hostages were dropped off in groups near locations held by Kurdish forces.
Now freed from the Islamic State’s grasp, these two believers join thousands of their peers as one of the world’s most-overlooked people groups.
A “forgotten” crisis
Exact figures are hard to come by, but at least 1.5 million Christians have been driven from their homes in Iraq and Syria during the past decade.
As these believers flee to neighboring Muslim-majority nations, their situation often improves little; as a result, many flock to the U.S. or Europe.
Persecution watchdogs like Open Doors USA, Voice of the Martyrs USA, and Voice of the Martyrs Canada have been drawing attention to the plight of Middle Eastern Christians for quite some time. (Click on each ministry name to read past reports.)
Their cries have largely fallen upon deaf ears, but last month, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report calling for U.S. action on behalf of persecuted Christians.
“During the past decade, Christians around the Middle East have been subject to vicious murders at the hands of terrorist groups, forced out of their ancestral lands by civil wars, suffered societal intolerance fomented by Islamist groups, and subjected to institutional discrimination,” reads the report in-part.
“The United States needs to engage on these issues with great care and sensitivity…accusations from extremists should not be used as an excuse for silence, or for taking action only on the margins.”
The CAP compares the status of Christians as a “barometer” for regional trends, saying that “address[ing] the plight of Christians could help produce greater stability in the long run.”
Political leaders may overlook the exodus, but YOU can do something about it.
“At Christian Aid Mission, we’re continually sending funds to mission boards in those countries around Syria, enabling them to reach out in the name of Christ and providing [for] physical needs,” says Steve VanValkenberg, CAM’S Middle East Director.
Becoming a voice for the voiceless
Christian Aid Mission supports indigenous, or local, missions groups around the world. In the Middle East, they’re helping ministries reach out to both Christians and non-Christians who’ve been displaced by the region’s instability.
As a result, the Kingdom of God is growing — despite ever-present dangers.
“This is by far the most openness they’ve seen among Muslims,” says VanValkenberg. “They’ve been praying for years for these people to believe in Christ, and now they [want] to believe in Christ.”
Christian Aid Mission and their partners are helping Middle Eastern refugees in a variety of ways. By coming alongside their work, you can make a difference, too. Find a list of CAM-supported projects here.
“There are many, many thousands [of Muslims] who are believing in Christ.
“We’re excited that we can assist these mission boards and help them reach out in the name of Christ.”