I have often wondered what I would do if my faith was put to the test. If I was order to recant or die, would I recant or would I be willing to die the death of a martyr? This dilemma is more than a question to the Christians living in the city of Al-Qaryaten: It’s reality.
To live, they must agree to pay a tax and sign a contract that states they will live in accord with each of the 11 points of the document below.
- Christians may not build churches, monasteries, or hermitages in the city or in the surrounding areas.
- They may not show the cross or any of their books in the Muslims’ streets or markets, and may not use amplifiers when worshiping or during prayer.
- They may not make Muslims hear the reciting of their books or the sounds of church bells, which must be rung only inside their churches.
- They may not carry out any act of aggression against ISIS, such as giving refuge to spies and wanted men. If they come to know of any plot against Muslims, they must report it.
- They must not perform religious rituals in public.
- They must respect Muslims and not criticize their religion.
- Wealthy Christians must pay an annual jizya of four gold dinars; middle-class Christians must pay two gold dinars, and the poor must pay one. Christians must disclose their income, and may split the jizya into two payments.
- They may not own guns.
- They may not engage in commercial activity involving pigs or alcohol with Muslims or in Muslim markets, and may not drink alcohol in public.
- They may maintain their own cemeteries.
- They must abide by ISIS dress code and commerce guidelines.
When I think of the predicament these Christians are facing, I think of what Peter said about persecution:
“Although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you . . . those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator (I Peter).”
- This 2 minute video will help to answer the question: Who is ISIS?
- MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) is the source for the contract above and photo I used.
An article in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post caught my attention: “The U.S. military has boosted security at all of its stateside bases and stations, broad recognition that the United States has heightened its awareness of a possible attack inspired by the Islamic State militant group, U.S. officials said Friday.”
With this report following on the heels of the recent incident in Garland, Texas, it was a frequent topic of discussion on Saturday morning. When the security level is raised it gets a person’s attention.
Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren said: “The military believes there is an increased and predictable security threat at home, with extra precautions, ID checks and searches launched across the country. It does not mean that an attack is considered imminent, however.”
How would your behavior change if you were told the danger is most certainly “imminent”? You may not be aware of it, but here is a statement that warns you are in grave danger!
Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering. ~I Peter 5:8-9
Watch your back, there’s a lion on the prowl.
The English language can be a strange creature that breeds confusion in the field of communication. The different meanings of the word bow is a good example:
• to bend forward at the waist in respect as in “bow down”
• the front of the ship (e.g. “bow and stern”)
• a ribbon tied to a package
• a bowtie
• to bend outward at the sides like a “bow-legged” cowboy
• a bow and arrow
Then there are words like:
• March (a month) and march as in a parade
• Divine (God) and divine as in discovering something by intuition
• Liberal (political view) and liberal as in abundance or plenty
• Agape (an open mouth) and agape (love of God)
• Dove (a bird) and dove (as in scuba diving)
You may wonder about the wandering of my mind, and what this has to do with ISIS. I have a two word answer: President Obama. Over the last couple of weeks, the President has chosen to use the acronym ISIL instead of the more common ISIS. The latter refers to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and ISIL means Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The difference between ISIS and ISIL is more than word-play. There is an alarming difference between the two. The “Levant” of ISIL incorporates the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. ISIL has its eyes on more than just Syria and Iraq. The ravenous hunger of these misfit Muslims will not be satisfied until they devour the other countries of this region and feast on Israel as well.
Do situations like this make you mad or are they made for prayer? Do they rob you of your peace or do you robe yourself in prayer? We need to pray for the minority groups in this region because they have a slim chance of survival when the slime of hatred flows out of control.
The world is looking to us to help strip ISIL of its power, but I’m afraid all they are seeing is the yellow stripe of cowardice.
Like many of you, I’m war-weary and the last thing I want to see is our American troops engaged in combat again, but ISIL must be stopped. Will we fight them there or here on American soil?
I encourage you to pray that God will stop ISIL’s preying on the innocent.