With waves of Islamic militants heading south toward Baghdad, Iraq is on the verge of chaos. This is not only a political catastrophe for the Iraqis, it's a foreign policy disaster for the U. S., and more importantly, it's a desperate humanitarian crisis—especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Discussing reports of attacks on churches in Mosul, Archbishop Amel Nona reports, "We received threats… [and] now all the faithful have fled the city. I wonder if they will ever return there." He added, "We have never seen anything like this—a large city such as Mosul attacked and in chaos."
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that the terrorist group ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has issued "rules of conduct" in areas of northern Iraq under their control. "All Muslim residents are ordered to attend the mosque for the five daily prayers, while alcohol and smoking are banned. Police and soldiers are told to repent or be killed, and women are ordered to dress decently and only go out if necessary!"
ISIS has been linked to the murder and torture of Christians in Syria.
But closest to my heart is the plight of Christians in Baghdad, especially those among the flock of Rev. Canon Andrew White, the so-called "Vicar of Baghdad" and recipient of the Colson Center's William Wilberforce Award.
Just over a month ago, I had the honor of interviewing Canon White at the Wilberforce Award ceremony. I have seldom felt so humbled in the presence of anyone. He exudes the love of Christ, and his love for his people is so sincere that it's almost overwhelming.
Well, I just received word that Canon White has issued a plea for help on his blog. That plea is making its way across the Internet, but I want to share with you some of this dear brother's words. Here's what he said:
"Iraq is now in its worst crisis since the 2003 war. ISIS . . . a group that does not even see Al Qaida as extreme enough, has moved into Mosul, which is Nineveh. It has totally taken control, destroyed all government departments. Allowed all prisoners out of the prisons. Killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies over the streets."
Canon White continues:
"The area is the heartland of the Christian community. Most of our people come from Nineveh and still see that as their home. It is there that they return to regularly. Many Christians fled back to Nineveh from Baghdad, as things got so bad there. Now the Christian centre of Iraq has been totally ransacked. The tanks are moving into the Christian villages destroying them and causing total carnage."
Finally, he ends with this plea:
"The summer is by far our worst time of the year for support. Both our Foundation in the UK and US have seriously had to reduce our funding. We are in a desperate crisis. So many of our people had returned to their homes in Nineveh for the summer now they are stuck in this total carnage unable to even escape. We desperately need help so that we can help the Christians of this broken land just get through this new crisis. Please can you help us, we are desperate."
I appeal to you personally to do whatever you can to help Canon White and our brothers and sisters in Iraq. Through prayer and through your donations.
Eric Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org) that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.