Christians celebrate their solemn Holy Week this year with harsh evidence that living life in the Christian faith will cost some their very lives.
Assyrian Christians and Yazidis in the Middle East are suffering genocide at the hands of the Islamic State.
It took a while for the U.S. State Department to officially recognize their plight.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday that the State Department had found ISIS responsible for genocide in areas it controls.
It was done reluctantly and followed formal declarations by the European Parliament, the United States National Holocaust Museum and a unanimous vote by the U.S. Congress.
Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the call, voting 393-0 to designate Islamic State crimes “genocide.” It’s the third time the House has attached the label to an ongoing crisis.
Genocide is a word associated with the most evil regimes in the world. Coined as a term in the 1940s by Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, Lemkin defined genocide as “mass killings of all members of a nation … the coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.”
The definition certainly fits the evil intent and purpose of the Islamic State against Christians, Jews, and even Shiite Muslims—essentially all but its own followers.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
As Easter approaches, pray for the followers of the Islamic State and the Christians persecuted by them.
Pray, too, that the evil perpetrated by the Islamic State is soon defeated.
“… even with a positive response from the State Department,” writes John Stonestreet in BreakPoint, “it will be up to western Christians to make sure that their brethren overseas are not forgotten. As Lemkin’s own story reminds us, proving that something terrible is happening is the easiest part—getting people to care enough to do something about it, that’s what’s truly difficult.”
For more on what U.S. policymakers can do, see ISIS’s Christian Genocide.