Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Iraqi Christians flee after violence"

This is the headline of an article by Leila Fadel and Ali al-Qeusy published today at The Washington Post online.

The article recounts the attacks on Christians in the last few weeks, and then notes, "many from (the) ancient Syriac Catholic community have fled."

Jeremiah was very clear in his warning -- "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I am going to arouse against Babylon... the spirit of a destroyer. And I shall dispatch foreigners to Babylon that they may winnow her and may devastate her land... [I will] devote all her army to destruction... [WHEN THIS HAPPENS,] Flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment, for this is the LORD's time of vengeance; he is going to render recompense to her,'" (Jer. 51:1-2,6).

But the priest of the church in which 58 worshippers were massacred last month contradicts the hebrew prophet. The Rev. Mukhlis Shasha is quoted in the article encouraging his flock to remain: "We will not give up... People tell me the Bible says if the land does not want us we must leave. I tell them you have to stand tall in these lands. If we leave the country, who will remember this massacre, who will witness the resurrection of this church again?"

It is sad the disdain this Catholic priest has for the Bible. Jeremiah was talking about today's events happening in the land of the Chaldeans, modern Iraq. And he was adamant that the people who claim to be the people of God are to do this: "Come forth from her midst, my people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the LORD. Now, lest your heart grow faint, and you be afraid at the report that will be heard in the land -- [Here is how you are to know it is time to leave:] For the report will come one year [1st Gulf War], and after that another report in another year [2nd Gulf War], and violence will be in the land with ruler against ruler -- Therefore behold, days are coming when I shall punish the idols of Babylon; and her whole land will be put to shame, and all her slain will fall in her midst. Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will shout for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers will come to her from the north [i.e., the Medes],' declares the LORD," (Jer. 51:45-48).

God says through the prophet the people of God are to flee from Babylon. This priest says to stay. Fortunately, as the article reports: "Since the attack, [...] Christian families have made their way out of the country or fled to the much safer northern Iraq, where Kurdish security forces control the area."

That is a good thing. The article continues: "The new wave of displacement could devastate an already dwindling Christian community. Some worry that if something doesn't change, there will soon be no Christians left in Iraq."

That is also a good thing. But as the article relays, "Political and religious leaders from across ethnic and sectarian lines have called on Christians to stay."

That is a bad thing. But the article continues: "But many Christians said that after years of violence and devastation, they must go."

That is a good thing. Said Waleed Jamil Butrous, a parishioner who survived the shooting, "The nation will lose the Christian community. I'm leaving, others are leaving."

That is a good thing.

"Flee from the midst of Babylon and each of you save your life!"

Do it.

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