We should pray for the persecuted in Iraq

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 23, 2014

News reports coming from Iraq tell of unspeakable brutality and evil by the Islamic militant group ISIS, murdering thousands of Christians and other religious minorities.

Tens of thousands have been forced to flee with little more than the shirts on their backs.

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the Anglican Church in Baghdad, recently told the news media, “Our people have been killed, massacred…It’s horrendous.”

According to published reports, ISIS is not only committing genocide of Christians, they are also destroying historic sites linked to the Bible.

Iraq has been called the “cradle of civilization.”

Bible scholars believe that approximately 4000 B.C. the first man and woman lived in the southern corner of present-day Iraq near Kuwait, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2).

Then about 2000 B.C., God spoke to a man from Ur of the Chaldees, now southeastern Iraq, about leaving his homeland to go to another land God would show him.

We read about Abraham’s faith journey beginning in Genesis 12 until the end of his life in Genesis 22.

Fast forward to about 950 B.C. to the wicked city of Nineveh, whose ruins have been excavated in northern Iraq – God called Jonah to preach repentance there.

The holy site believed to be the tomb of Jonah in the ancient city of Mosul, near Nineveh, has been destroyed by ISIS.

Another book of the Bible gives us the account of Daniel.

About 600 B.C., he and three other Hebrew young men were among many Jewish people taken captive to Babylon (south of today’s Bagdad) during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his friends stood up for their faith and faced a fiery furnace.

Years later, as a man possibly 80-years-old, Daniel spent the night in a lion’s den and lived to tell about it because he wouldn’t stop praying when praying was against the law.

About 478 B.C., a Jewish girl won a beauty contest to become queen of Persia.

Esther and the story of how she saved her captive race from extermination can be found in the Bible in a book with her name.

The palace of King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther of Shushan would have been located west of Basra, near the border with Iran.

Empires such as the Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and others have ruled the land of Iraq.

But these kingdoms have come and gone.

All that remains are their ruins and recorded history.

For over 20 years, brutal dictator Saddam Hussein controlled the country.

There are really only two kingdoms struggling for control of this world – good vs. evil.

The battle is for the hearts, minds and souls of every man, woman, boy and girl.

When we read about the people of the Bible, they teach us the importance of obeying God, praying to Him, and standing up for His truth “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

How can we help those persecuted and dying for their faith?

We cannot go to Iraq and rescue them, but we can pray. Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”