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“This war is from Satan against you, Lord. Against humanity, created in your image.”
SUMMARY—Up to 1.2 million people were displaced by the violence in Iraq in 2014 alone. Millions more live in fear. Massacres, beheadings, crucifixions, abductions, and sexual violence are rampant. Islamic State has attempted to eliminate entire Christian communities. As many as eight million people are believed to now live under the partial, or complete, control of IS.
This modern day nightmare has not only darkened the landscape of Iraq and Syria, but the whole world, with over 11,000 people from abroad joining the ranks of the 30-50,000 Islamic State militants. Teaching an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam, they believe they are the only true believers and see the rest of the world as their enemy. Using violence to get what they want, their goal is the creation of an Islamic caliphate ruled by a single political and religious leader, ruling Muslim communities around the world.
Despite these gruesome realities, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). This is a spiritual battle against our adversary, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8).
We hate the darkness and underlying evil, and we grieve the resulting bloodshed and pain. Yet Jesus still says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). God’s love reaches not only those suffering under this oppression, but it reaches even into the ranks of Islamic State. Just as God transformed Saul into Paul through an encounter with Jesus, so can He transform today’s persecutors into tomorrow’s evangelists. And He is doing just that.
As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church will grow where the enemy tries to destroy those who follow Christ. Let us pray that they will come out of the darkness to follow Jesus. Pray the Light of Christ will shine in places where there is hatred from those who don’t know our Lord and Savior.
Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted
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(AINA) Reuters– A six-year old Iraqi Christian girl, kidnapped by Islamic State when she was three, was reunited with her family on Friday, and getting used to saying “mum” and “dad” once more.
“The best day of my life is the day when Christina came back,” said her mother, Aida Nuh, on Saturday.
Dark circles around her eyes are evidence of sleepless nights since August 2014, when the militants snatched Christina from her, a few weeks after overrunning the town of Qaraqosh, 15 km (10 miles) southeast of Mosul.
“She stayed three years with the terrorists. Of course she forgot who her mother is, who her father is, that we are her family, but she will learn again.”
Islamic State has kidnapped thousands of men, women and children from Iraq’s minorities, mainly Yazidis.
Christians who did not or could not escape in time were faced with an ultimatum – pay a tax for protection, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Some, like Christina, were kidnapped.
Christian families who remained in Qaraqosh were forcibly displaced on Aug. 22, 2014. The militants took away Christina from the minibus which had driven them to the edge of Islamic State territory, after threatening Aida, who desperately resisted.
The family’s efforts to track her though Arab friends were rewarded on Friday, when they got a call telling them Christina had been found in Hayy al-Tanak, a poor neighborhood of Mosul.
Eighth months into the U.S-backed offensive to take back Mosul, all of the city has fallen to Iraqi government forces except a pocket by the western bank of the Tigris river.
We went to a dirty place in Hayy el-Tanak (..), we took the child,” said Christina’s blind father, Khader Touma, wearing dark glasses and surrounded by the family now complete with the return of his youngest daughter.
Her two sisters and two brothers had escaped to Kurdish territory before the arrival of the militants.
“I’m with mum and dad,” said Christina, playing with a plastic toy, in a mobile home for displaced people in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, east of Mosul.
The parents said they now hoped to emigrate, to put their ordeal behind them.
In the meantime, they face a long wait in the cramped cabin, because their home in Qaraqosh was almost completely destroyed in the fighting to dislodge the militants.
Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Andrew Bolton.
(World Watch Monitor) There were tears, soldiers praying, priests singing. This was the moment thousands of Iraqi Christians had been waiting for: the Cross, symbol of Christ’s victory over evil, deemed illegal by IS, had returned to the Christian villages in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain.
This came as news continues to emerge of more villages reclaimed from the Islamic State (IS), and more signs of destruction become apparent.
As soon as it was remotely safe, the priests got into a car and were escorted back to their villages. In Christian villages like Karamles and Qaraqosh – half an hour’s drive east of Mosul – they were among the first non-combatants to return now the villages have been liberated from IS occupation.
Father Thabet, who lives with his congregation in a complex for internally displaced people in Erbil, brought a Cross, the size of a man, covered with flowers, with him when he returned to his home village of Karamles.
“I am so happy I can do this. I’m smiling from cheek to cheek and I weep tears of joy at the same time. This is the trip I have been praying for, for two years now,” he said.
He climbed Barbara Hill, next to his village, and planted the Cross firmly in the ground overlooking Karamles.
“My dream is to bring all the Christians back to this village. Then we will worship outside on Barbara Hill; we will have the Eucharist in the open air. Everybody will see that this is the Church; this is the Body of Christ; this is Christian land. That is my dream – to give a testimony to the world,” he said.
When he arrived in Karamles, Fr. Thabet found his church had been heavily damaged by IS but was still standing. The Cross has been taken off and thrown to the ground. The inside of the church was a mess, but it’s not beyond repair. Fears that the Christian village would be completely uninhabitable have proven to be unfounded.
‘What counts is that we can pray here again’
The same goes for the village of Qaraqosh, visited by Father Ammar. He reinstated the Cross on his church, helped by Christian soldiers guarding the village after it had been liberated.
IRAQ: Kurdish forces claim they’ve taken back the town of Bashiqa from so-called Islamic State – as their advance on Mosul continues. But what’s happening in the newly liberated towns? Two years ago we reported the story of Father John Tarachee, who was driven out of Bartella with his entire Christian flock. He’s been living as a refugee ever since. Our correspondent Jonathan Rugman returned with him to his home in Bartella in this exclusive Channel 4 News report.
VOP Note: Please pray for the people of Iraq. Pray for the faith of our Iraqi brothers and sisters. May they have strength and endurance through Christ Jesus and may our Lord have mercy on them.
Father, in the midst of great suffering, the light of Your face is shines in the darkness. Help us to live in the continual fullness of the Spirit and keep our eyes focused solely on you. We ask in the name of Jesus to foil the plans of all who intend to do evil. We pray for a wave of the Holy Spirit to wash over not only Iraq, but the entire Middle East. May Your will be done and your name be glorified. May shouts of praise ring out in the land of Nineveh and beyond.
Symbology can be very significant and it’s importance to different cultures varies. We in the West use symbolism, but many only relate to symbols such as the one used for peace made popular in the 60’s etc. But the importance of symbology is mainly lost on most cultures in the West. Withholding the images of executions in this article, which only feeds into their lunacy, let’s take a trip into history to see the importance of the symbolism used in the latest message to the West and Christian believers.
Hungry for power, This ravenous group terrorizing and conquering large swaths in Iraq and Syria are spreading fear throughout the world. They are commonly know by the people as Daesh. They have carried out yet another atrocious slaughter in Palmyra, Syria, using children to show the world how evil and demonic they are. Let’s look at the symbolism they portray.
Merriam Websters dictionary defines symbols: something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially : a visible sign of something invisible <the lion is a symbol of courage>
The Jihadists or Daesh whatever you prefer, have steeped their murderous rampages with videos that are layered with symbolism. In one video, they sent a message to (Christians) the “people of the Cross.” The crucifixions, and beheadings send blatant in your face messages without the choosing of backgrounds. For instance, in the video of them murdering the Coptic Christians in Libya, they chose the shore line and stated that “the water runs red with their blood”. This is out of the Bible. Just as the setting fire to the Jordanian pilot sent a message to Jordan, this latest slaughter of soldiers in the Syrian Army sends a message to not only the West, but Christians most specific. They have killed more than 25 men execution style using child soldiers to carry it out. And the backdrop they chose, the Roman Amphitheater in Palmyra Syria.
Without going into the complete history of this city, it’s very interesting to know that it was mentioned in the Bible. And said to have been at the site of the ‘Temple of Bel.’ [Baal]
Facts about Palmyra:
- Palmyra entered the historical record around 2000 BC, when Puzur-Ishtar the Tadmorean agreed to a contract at an Assyrian trading colony in Kultepe.
- It was mentioned next in the Mari tablets as a stop for trade caravans and nomadic tribes, such as the Suteans.
- King Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria passed the area on his way to the Mediterranean at the beginning of the 18th century BC; by then, Palmyra was the easternmost point of the kingdom of Qatna.
- The town was mentioned in a 13th-century BC tablet discovered at Emar, which recorded the names of two “Tadmorean” witnesses.
- At the beginning of the 11th century BC, King Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria recorded his defeat of the “Arameans” of “Tadmar”.
- The Hebrew Bible (Second Book of Chronicles 8:4) records “Tadmor” as a desert city built (or fortified) by King Solomon of Israel, and it is mentioned in the Talmud(Yebamot 17a-b).
- Flavius Josephus mentions the Greek name “Palmyra”, attributing the founding of “Tadmor” to Solomon in Book VIII of his Antiquities of the Jews.
- Later Islamic traditions attribute the city’s founding to Solomon’s Jinn
Palmyra has a rich history, but what is most interesting is the Roman Amphitheater in Palmyra, a place that even Emperor Nero is known to have placed his statue in the niche of the regia of the theatre.
After Rome conquered and controlled it “during Tiberius’ early reign, around 14 AD. The Roman imperial period brought great prosperity to the city, which enjoyed a privileged status under the empire—retaining much of its internal autonomy, and incorporating many Greek city-state (polis) institutions into its government. Palmyrene republic was ruled by a council, and the Romans defined Palmyra’s boundaries; a boundary marker laid by Roman governor Silanus was found 75 kilometres (47 mi) northwest of the city at Khirbet el-Bilaas. A marker at the city’s southwestern border was found at Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi, and its eastern border extended to the Euphrates valley. “
The Severan Roman Dynasty (Lucius Septimius Severus 193-211 A.D. ) persecuted Christians, and Jews. The only two groups who would not convert their beliefs.
What fitting symbolism to send a message to the West. To overtake a city that has ancient roots from King Solomon, and the Roman Empire. It’s history, it’s prophecy, and it’s what they believe.
They believe the Western nations are an extension of the Ancient Roman Empire. And I suppose not without good reason:
- The ideal of the Roman Empire as a mighty Christian Empire with a single ruler continued to seduce many powerful rulers. Under the principle of translatio imperii, theHoly Roman Empire explicitly proclaimed itself as the continuation of the Western Roman Empire.
- The title of the Western Roman Emperor was revived whenCharlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards, was crowned as Emperor of the Romans of the West by Pope Leo III in 800.
- The status of the Holy Roman Emperor as the rightful Western Roman Emperor in the medieval era was further legitimated by the recognition as “co-emperor” from the Eastern Roman Emperor, who was in direct succession to the ancient Roman Emperors.
- The Holy Roman Empire continued to regard itself as the successor state of the Western Roman Empire until its downfall in 1806.
- The French King Louis XIV, as well as French Emperor Napoleon I, among others, also tried to resurrect the Empire, albeit unsuccessfully.
- A very visible legacy of the Western Roman Empire is the Roman Catholic Church. The Church slowly began to replace Roman institutions in the West, even helping to negotiate the safety of Rome during the late 5th century.
- In many cases the only source of law and civil administration was the local bishop, often himself a former governor like St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Germanus of Auxerre.
- As Rome was invaded by Germanic tribes, many assimilated, and by the middle of the medieval period (c.9th and 10th centuries) the central, western, and northern parts of Europe had been largely converted by the Roman Catholicism and acknowledged the Pope as the Vicar of Christ.
The rest is as they say History. Still today, these cultures believe that the West is the Roman Empire. As they try to resurrect Babylon, you can begin to see prophecy unfold. You have to understand the beginning and history to understand what is happening now. Research it, get familiar with it, for none of this is happening without reason and thought on their part. All is prophesied. For God said: “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.…” (Isaiah 46:9-11)
Nothing is new under the sun. All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new “? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us. (Ecclesiasted 1:8-10)
At the very least, Ancient god’s are being unleashed and these messages and symbols should cause every Christians and Jew to search the word of God, and realize what time we live in.
We consistently find scriptures not only for the headlines of the Daesh but we can almost trace their footsteps through the Bible and prophecy. Look up, for our redemption draws near. Stand on the Rock so that you may endure. He is where our strength comes from.