In a far corner of the world where our faith story began, church bells no longer ring at Christmas. Christians in the Middle East are rapidly disappearing – pushed out, cast away, targeted, forced to renounce their faith, and killed.
“Last Christmas was the first time that bells did not ring out in the city of Mosul in 2,000 years,” Elijah Brown of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative said. “I think that speaks to the reality that hundreds of thousands of Christian families are living on the edge of extinction.”
Christians are consistently under siege from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They’ve been fleeing to Europe and Lebanon for years. Sadly, the world has remained quiet in response.
“The Christian population in Iraq has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2003 to current estimates of 275,000 and could be gone for good within five years, according to the report. The dwindling numbers are due to genocide, refugees fleeing to other countries, those who are internally displaced, and others hiding in plain sight and not allowing their faith to be publicly known. A dozen Christian families flee Iraq each day, according to 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a Falls Church, Va., nonprofit dedicated to promoting religious freedom worldwide.”
There is great fear that ISIS will destroy and take over the Syriac Christian town, Sadad where the people speak Aramaic, the ancient language many believed Jesus spoke. Christian fighters are working to defend this town which represents the root of Syriac Christianity, one of the world’s oldest sects. Muslims and Alawites have joined the Christian fighters to protect their town and its people.
News Week reports, “A Syriac Christian fighter in Sadad, who declined to be named for security reasons, says: ‘People from all over Syria have arrived to fight for Sadad. It is a symbolic place for us and we will not allow it to fall again.’”
Nuri Kino, the founder of a Middle Eastern advocacy group says, “We hope that Sadad does not become a new Mosul, Nineveh, Khabour or al-Qaryatain. The people in Sadad and all those that joined them, many Christians from all over Syria, showed that they have had it with ISIS turning Christians into slaves.”
Within a decade, the Christian population in the Middle East could vanish completely.
“Unless the global community gets involved, we will witness the loss of Christian witnesses in a land that is biblically significant,” Brown said.