Caleb Ecarma, Staff Writer
It has been over a year since the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, gained significant control over parts of the Middle East. By invading Syria, Iraq, and other surrounding countries, the Islamic State (IS) has forced its laws on many different people groups. The group most negatively affected by this spreading invasion are the Christians who find themselves in the path of this Muslim insurgent group.
The situation with ISIS is no doubt a dire one in the Middle East for missionaries and other Christians.
Tony Beam, NGU’s Christian Worldview Center director, said “Christians in the area are under extreme persecution because of ISIS, and it is causing a lot of displacement.”
“It’s causing a huge refugee problem in Europe right now, and a lot of them are Christians fleeing from ISIS. Germany and Turkey are close to being overrun with these refugees,” Beam added.
Steven Crouse, VP of Campus Ministries, said, “There are a range of places throughout Central Asia and the Middle East that individuals close to NGU have served at. However, for security reasons, we cannot disclose their exact locations.”
“We know of one of our alumni that works with children and missionaries at a school, and that school was recently burned down by ISIS. Everyone ended up safe, but it is a dire situation,” Crouse added.
The IS have claimed a state of war against every person who self-proclaims themselves as a part of the “nation of the cross,” a reference to all Christians worldwide. This suggests that all Christians, regardless of geographical location or religious denomination, are targets of the Islamic State.
However, despite their obvious animosity towards Christians, the IS has stated, under certain terms, it is willing to allow Christians to live in their community. Christians must sign an agreement that states they will not worship in public, build churches nor spread the gospel. In addition, Christians may not own guns. Publicly professing Christians must pay a heavy tax and abide to all Islamic traditions, including dress code. If unwilling to abide to these rules, Christians are either forced to convert to Islam, exiled, or killed.
Assyrian Christians have received the worst persecution from the Islamic State. Primarily located in Western Syria and Northern Iraq, these Christians often times find themselves surrounded on all sides by jihadists. The IS has continually kidnapped the Christians in this area and placed large ransoms on them. Reports have stated that the IS has demanded close to $23 million for the lives of these Assyrian Christians.
Allen McWhite, Director of the Global Engagement Team at NGU said, “Most of the Christians I’m personally aware of are simply trying to continue to do their work. There have been some missionaries close to the University that have sent information out requesting prayer, prayer for their safety, and prayer for the church.”
“And yet, despite the situation, most of them have still continued to quietly do what God has called them to do there," he added.