Words to help explain actions that are inexplicable and beyond the scope of humanity.
The decimation of towns and those who inhabit them in the name of a perverted branch of an otherwise peaceful religion.
The senseless killing of children – in the presence of their parents – for refusing to denounce their Christianity.
I received the following urgent prayer request this morning from my friend Gwenda as I waited for my daughter at a dentist appointment, surrounded by little children awaiting their own appointments in a setting so, so far removed from the one described in Gwenda’s plea:
“This is so sad... A friend just got a text message from her brother asking her to shower him and his parish in prayer.
He is part of a mission and ISIS has taken over the town they are in today. He said ISIS is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed…but not the parents.
The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. They are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families – even if it means their own deaths. He is very afraid, has no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called him for some reason to be his voice and hands at this place at this time.
Even so, he is begging prayers for his courage to live out his vocation in such dire circumstances and, like the children, accept martyrdom if he is called to do so.
She asked me to ask everyone we know to please pray for them. These brave parents instilled such a fervent faith in their children that they chose martyrdom. Please surround them in their loss with your prayers for hope and perseverance.
She was able to talk to her brother briefly by phone. She didn't say it but I believe she believes it will be their last conversation. Pray for her too. She said he just kept asking her to help him know what to do and do it. She told him to tell the families we ARE praying for them and they are not alone or forgotten – no matter what. Her e-mail broke my heart. Please keep all in your prayers. Thanks.”
Gwenda’s message was followed by the one she received:
“Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.
'We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food to. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated its staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!
Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.'
May I plead with you not to ignore this e-mail. Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible. Send it to friends and Christians you may know. Send it to your prayer group. Send it to your pastor and phone him/her to pray on Sunday during the service – making a special time of prayer for this. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians. Love, light and blessings…Jean Lesley”
Minutes ago, as I started this post, the only word that my brain could formulate was “Why?”
That one-word question was accompanied by nausea and the sensation that my heart was in the tightening grasp of an evil being perpetrated thousands of miles away.
An evil that can be easily replicated anywhere – in the United States, in my home state of Maine or my little town of Chelsea.
Today, I am praying for those in the city of Queragosh – for their safety and, somehow, for their deliverance from the evil that surrounds them. I pray for those in other towns and cities caught in the path of the evil known as ISIS…that they may be delivered as well.
And, finally, I pray for a universal mustering of the forces of good to combat the evil of ISIS, to eliminate the darkness it has and continues to shower upon humanity.
If you are a spiritual person, I ask you to join me in prayer. If you are not, please share this message with those you know who are.