by Brett Tarbell
As we near the end of January, already a month into the New Year, memories of Christmas celebrations have begun to fade. For most of us, this Christmas was nothing drastically different from years past– steeped in tradition, warmth, and the company of friends and family.
But imagine for a moment – truly imagine – that this past Christmas was one of sorrow, fear or even physical pain because of your faith. Imagine a celebration of the Savior’s birth mingled with grief in the face of recent loss – of home, dignity, and the ones you love – to hatred and violence. Heartbreak that threatens to cripple your faith, made all the more burdensome by the stark contrast to the joys of Christmases past.
Such was Christmas 2014 for the Iraqi Christians persecuted by the Islamic State (IS).
Most of Iraq’s Christians spent Christmas in tents or unfinished buildings that are now their homes, neither of which provide adequate protection from the freezing cold of winter. Many are in dire need of jackets and clothing. This cold can pose as big a danger as IS militants do.
Without proper shelter, many are freezing to death. These believers are frantically trying to hold fast to their faith, while also simply trying to stay alive.
Would you take a moment to remember and pray for those among us who are suffering?:
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Let our faith then move us to act on behalf of those suffering at the hands of the Islamic State. Even when the media forgets them, and many refuse to be burdened by the thought of them. Join with Open Doors to let these persecuted believers know we are standing with them to help their immediate needs.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.