Iraq

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Rob’s Blog | Peace and Good Will. Really???

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:13-14

Peace is always a theme of the Christmas season, sometimes in sermons, sometimes on doormats, often on greeting cards. There are wonderful accounts of literal Christmas-time manifestations of peace, like the famous one about World War I German and Allied combatants laying down their arms, exchanging cigarettes and rations, and singing carols together—only to resume their barbarous warfare on December 26.

I am not a blithe peacenik. Conflict is natural among human beings and will be until God institutes a new order in the universe. Wars will continue and physical violence will persist on every level of human relations. Still, this angelic pronouncement is not the wistful fantasy of a Pollyanna, but the express mandate of the Creator of all things, including of humankind, and it is a central tenet of the Gospel.

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How then do we reconcile the ideal of God’s intention for peace and man’s rejection of it? How does the prayer for peace on earth jibe with the horrors being perpetrated by ISIS, the death of a teen in Ferguson, a 12-year old in Cleveland, an asthmatic in Brooklyn? For that matter, the hammer-beating of a St. Louis man, or the looting and arson of stores in protest of “police brutality?” None of this comports with peace or the pursuit of peace.

When I contemplate these seemingly irreconcilable realities, my mind often goes back to a simple and very human story. It was the early 1960s. One of my early ministry heroes, Rev. David Wilkerson, had arrived in New York City as a naïve young preacher with an outlandish vision to win violent street gangs to Christ. His first convert was a knife-wielding punk named Nicky Cruz. After Nicky gave his life to Christ he assisted “Brother Dave” in his frequent evangelistic rallies. During one of those rallies, one of Nicky’s rival gang members, Israel Narvaez, was present. A brawl ensued and Nicky had Israel on the ground with a blade to his throat.

“Say ‘Praise God’ man,” Nicky threatened. “Or I’ll cut your throat!”

Israel complied, crying, “Praise God, man! Praise God!” Nicky relented, got himself back in order, and led his rival to the altar. Israel went on to become an evangelist, like his nemesis.

What I love about this story (whether it’s embellished or not), is that it illustrates how peace and violence can coexist in the same person, often in the same moment. That’s true of the world in general. The presence of God brings peace, and the future plan and purpose of God results in eternal peace. These are points of ultimate hope and the means toward realizing true, lasting, spiritual, and temporal peace—even while, in the moment, the fullness of that peace eludes us.

The great gift of the Gospel is in its proof that peace is not only possible; it’s inevitable. The Gospel—manifest in the peaceful Christ Child at Bethlehem—is the cure for man’s hopeless surrender to violence. Of course, that peaceful birth was met with violence, too, as Herod unleashed his infant-murdering hoards. So, while our peace is disturbed in the moment, it’s assured in the future—the not-so-distant future.

This CHRISTmas my prayer for you is for you to know the hope that is Peace on Earth—and Good Will toward men . . .

Merry CHRISTmas to you and all yours.

RS

Never silent to genocide: praying to a Holy God to move hearts to action and save lives

Right now, Christians and a Religious Group called Yazidis are being slaughtered and driven into the wilderness desert of Iraq by Islamic militants in frightening numbers. Today, we gathered with a group of Yazidis outside the White House, and were extremely saddened to hear personal stories of what is happening to specific members of their families – men being murdered, elderly and young children dying of hunger and thirst in the wilderness in hiding, and women and children being enslaved for forced labor or forced marriage into the militant Islamic group that is terrorizing them.

PLEASE pray with us for the precious lives of these families, many who are our Christian brothers and sisters, fighting for their lives. This is such an important time for believers to stand up for Religious Freedom. To see more videos, photos and updates on this crucial issue as it develops, visit this link on our website: http://bit.ly/1r37FZY

Heartbreaking personal story of one Iraqi family’s tragic torment in religious genocide

Right now, Christians and a Religious Group called Yazidis are being slaughtered and driven into the wilderness desert of Iraq by Islamic militants in frightening numbers. Today, we gathered with a group of Yazidis outside the White House, and were extremely saddened to hear personal stories of what is happening to specific members of their families – men being murdered, elderly and young children dying of hunger and thirst in the wilderness in hiding, and women and children being enslaved for forced labor or forced marriage into the militant Islamic group that is terrorizing them.

PLEASE pray with us for the precious lives of these families, many who are our Christian brothers and sisters, fighting for their lives. This is such an important time for believers to stand up for Religious Freedom. To see more videos, photos and updates on this crucial issue as it develops, visit this link on our website: http://bit.ly/1r37FZY

Rev. Rob Schenck speaks w media about what You can do to counteract genocide of minorities in Iraq

Right now, Christians and a Religious Group called Yazidis are being slaughtered and driven into the wilderness desert of Iraq by Islamic militants in frightening numbers. Today, we gathered with a group of Yazidis outside the White House, and were extremely saddened to hear personal stories of what is happening to specific members of their families – men being murdered, elderly and young children dying of hunger and thirst in the wilderness in hiding, and women and children being enslaved for forced labor or forced marriage into the militant Islamic group that is terrorizing them.

PLEASE pray with us for the precious lives of these families, many who are our Christian brothers and sisters, fighting for their lives. This is such an important time for believers to stand up for Religious Freedom. To see more videos, photos and updates on this crucial issue as it develops, visit this link on our website: http://bit.ly/1r37FZY

Hundreds of Christian & Yazidi children being killed in Iraq. Christians must pray & call for action

Right now, Christians and a Religious Group called Yazidis are being slaughtered and driven into the wilderness desert of Iraq by Islamic militants in frightening numbers. Today, we gathered with a group of Yazidis outside the White House, and were extremely saddened to hear personal stories of what is happening to specific members of their families – men being murdered, elderly and young children dying of hunger and thirst in the wilderness in hiding, and women and children being enslaved for forced labor or forced marriage into the militant Islamic group that is terrorizing them.

PLEASE pray with us for the precious lives of these families, many who are our Christian brothers and sisters, fighting for their lives. This is such an important time for believers to stand up for Religious Freedom. To see more videos, photos and updates on this crucial issue as it develops, visit this link on our website: http://bit.ly/1r37FZY

Rob’s Blog: Praying with the Persecuted at the Gates of the White House

As so often happens, I had planned to make this week a slow one—mostly to catch up on a book I’ve agreed to write (about the last 20 years of ministry to our nation’s leaders in DC), which I’ve abandoned too often in recent days. But, as we say, God had other plans.

On Tuesday, Rev. Pat Mahoney called me to say he was meeting up in Washington with persecuted people from Iraq. He asked if I would join him. How could I say no?

On Wednesday we met Faysal Shaqooli, a spokesman for the American Yazidi community, one of the religious minorities targeted with extinction by the radical jihadi terrorists called ISIS. He has been in the U.S. for some time because he was targeted for assassination years ago, after assisting U.S. forces during the recent war. Faysal’s mother and sister remain in Iraq and are in grave danger. His mother is in the mountains facing serious illness due to unsanitary conditions, if not dehydration and starvation. His sister is in even greater peril. She was taken to a prison controlled by the terrorists after her husband was banded up with thousands of other men and likely executed. The whereabouts of their children are uncertain.

Scores of American Yazidi came to Washington this week to demand that President Obama order the military to intervene. While the Yazidi religion is non-Christian, they have a very long history of friendship with Christians in Iraq. Their families often inter-marry and they protect one another. Just as they’ve lived together, Iraqi Yazidis and Christians have suffered together in this latest disaster. Thousands have been murdered, and their women and children are being marked for sale on wife-market.

The Yazidis showed me photos of their family and friends stacked up in mass graves after being summarily shot by ISIS terrorists. The images brought back the terrible feeling I had when, as a boy, my father showed me similar photos of our fellow Jews in Nazi mass gave sites.

This is another holocaust—this time of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. One of the Yazidi leaders said to Pat and me, “If the United States won’t help us, maybe Israel will. To show our gratitude, every family will send one male to serve in their army. We promise!”

On Thursday, I went to the gates of the White House to join with dozens of Yazidis that gathered there. They were loudly crying out to President Obama, pleading with him to send military help to their stricken communities. In the fervor, with shouting, crying, and chanting all around, they yelled to me, “What can you do to help us?”

I told them I had already spoken to government officials and Christian relief agencies. I had drafted and successfully worked for passage of a resolution at the annual meeting of my denominational body calling attention to the crisis. Of course, none of that was enough to console them. I was left with only one way to help, I explained. To offer up prayers to the God that can save them. I asked if I could do that right there, in front of the White House gates. They said “Yes, yes, yes.”

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My team and I leading Faysal and a crowd of Yazidi Iraqis in prayer in front of the White House.

I invited their spokesman to kneel with me, which he did. Others joined us. In that prayer time, I held a picture of the body of a little girl killed in the calamity. Another little Yazidi girl stood next to me holding a poster-sized photo of children traumatized and crying. It was horrible. I pled with God to mercifully look down on these suffering people and their Christian friends, and to move on the hearts of all good people to help them. I asked especially for the Lord to move the heart of President Obama to come to their aid. Right after I pronounced, “In Jesus name, Amen,” the Yazidis began chanting, “Save the Christians of Iraq! Save the Christians of Iraq!” I was speechless.

As you saw, God heard and answered those prayers. Last night, just hours after we prayed, President Obama spoke to the nation about the Christians and the Yazidis, and announced he had authorized humanitarian and military aid.

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 9, I will be at the White House gates again, this time as Pat hosts Iraqi Christians who have family and friends in the same horrible circumstances. We will pray with them, too. Of course, they love the Lord and are in the family, so we’ll have so much more in common. I’m really looking forward to being with them. The Yazidis, though, made for a very meaningful Christian ministry opportunity. Let me explain.

The Yazidi religion is very old. It predates both Christianity and Islam. They claim it predates Judaism. (Well, perhaps “modern Judaism,” but couldn’t be biblical religion.) In any case, Yazidiism is at least related to Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion. Many scholars believe the wise men that came from the east to find the Christ child, using the Bethlehem star to guide them, were Zoroastrians. If so, I find it fascinating that all these millennia later, their religious and ethnic descendants may have again bowed in the presence of the only Savior.

Like the wise men in search of the Christ Child, we must keep focused on the only Savior of humankind. At times like these, we’re tempted to place our trust, “in chariots and horses, “ but, as the Psalmist reminds us, “we must remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Yesterday I told the Yazidis just that—and today, they are learning it is true.

Please continue to pray for all our neighbors in Iraq, and especially those of the household of faith.

Rob +

Christians and Yazidis are being exterminated in Iraq. The U.S. government must not be silent!!

Right now, Christians and a Religious Group called Yazidis are being slaughtered and driven into the wilderness desert of Iraq by Islamic militants in frightening numbers. Today, we gathered with a group of Yazidis outside the White House, and were extremely saddened to hear personal stories of what is happening to specific members of their families – men being murdered, elderly and young children dying of hunger and thirst in the wilderness in hiding, and women and children being enslaved for forced labor or forced marriage into the militant Islamic group that is terrorizing them.

PLEASE pray with us for the precious lives of these families, many who are our Christian brothers and sisters, fighting for their lives. This is such an important time for believers to stand up for Religious Freedom. To see more videos, photos and updates on this crucial issue as it develops, visit this link on our website: http://bit.ly/1r37FZY