Thursday, December 04, 2014

ISIS Turning Churches Into Prisons

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Terror group ISIS has been turning Christian churches into prisons in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which used to be the site of a large Christian community before it was driven out by the jihadists.

These church buildings are among the most ancient and beautiful Christian church buildings in the world.

Not only are they being misused, but there are now fears that the buildings themselves may be destroyed with Christians detained within the buildings.

We live far from Mosul and Chaldea and these areas of incarceration and devastation, but in a very different yet similar way, a kind of "incarceration" is seen in some of our own churches and culture. And in some of our own personal lives.

Fides News Agency is reporting that a number of detainees were recently sent to the ancient Chaldean church of the Immaculate Conception in the eastern part of the city.

This report says that St. George monastery has been turned into a place for female detention, raising fears that the Christian women will be abused.

The Christian Post is reporting that the city has been emptied of its Christian population.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that US Secretary of State John Kerry is "pledging to fight the Islamic State for as long as it takes."

Mike Gore, with Open Doors Australia, says, "Christians, not just in hundreds, but in tens of thousands are being driven from Iraq and Syria with little more than the clothes on their back.

We must remember our brothers and sisters in this part of the world---and those who minister among them.

Believers in this part of the world have been faced with the choice of converting to Islam, paying a tax to be a Christian, or being killed because of their faith.

In these circumstances they will likely not physically see the outward evidence of "Silent Night, Holy Night," "Joy To The World" or "Peace." Yet, as they flee and are incarcerated in these church buildings, the presence of God will fill their hearts because they know "The Truth" and He, the "Truth," has set them free.

Most all of us live far away from Mosul and Chaldea, but it occurs to me that there are those of us in the most free, prosperous nation in the history of the world that live in a very different, but in one way similar kind of incarceration and crises.

Personally, some live in cells of their own making, imprisoned by fears, bitterness, ignorance to the Truth and our own self serving destructive habits.

And in some ways our churches, called to be Light in the darkness, Salt that is dispensed into a decaying culture, have become, in a sense, a comfortable cell of isolation, fearing rejection by our peers, claiming a desire to "relate" to the culture, we are silent. While our culture burns. And secularism marches.

We are fearful of being called a bigot if we stand for biblical marriage.

We are fearful of being called "anti-woman" if we believe in the sanctity of life and oppose abortion.

We are fearful of being punished as someone who proselytizes if we share our faith.

We are fearful of being called "extremist" if we claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God.

We are fearful of social rejection.

We are giving an unclear and halting message to a culture, led by secular progressives hell bent on elevating and celebrating those things that will ultimately bring personal and social destruction.

We will sing the songs of the season in our churches---"Silent Night," "Joy to the World," "Angels We Have Heard On High," and we should...but in too many cases, our voice will be lost because of our silence and isolation and insulation.

And the transforming message of the gospel will be not heard by those who desperately need it.

A culture will be remade by those who seek to replace God with man, because we, the church, are locked up for safety's sake.

An incarceration of our own making.

It is a terrific concept to go tell it on the mountain, but we must also go tell it "everywhere"--- in the market place---the public square---the political arena---the culture.

Tell them with spoken word and lifestyle that Jesus Christ is born. He is Lord.

And as the angels once said, "Fear Not."

Be Free. Be Blessed.