How Do You Define Christianity?
The name Samer Kamil Yacub probably does not mean much to 99.9% of Americans. But it should. He is believed to be the last Christian who left the Iraqi city of Mosul this week, after 2,000 years of Christianity in that town. Let that soak in for a moment. A place that has had Christians for 2,000 years now has none.
Christians in Mosul have been forced to flee—while being beaten, robbed, and in many cases killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). This so-called “peaceful religion” has been telling Christians for several weeks now: “Convert or die.” In America we rarely hear about the hundreds of Christians who are being killed by Muslims. After all, it would not be politically correct to shine a negative light on that religion. As the bumper stickers say, we should all just “co-exist.” So, while our country argues over whether or not an NFL team can retain the name “Washington Redskins,” Christians in Iraq have been going through persecution that most of us cannot even fathom.
Imagine for a moment watching your church family torn apart—with members being killed for their beliefs. Imagine watching as some of your immediate family is sent away—and you aren’t quite sure where they have gone. At militant checkpoints in Mosul they order fleeing Christian women into trailers where Muslims take away their jewelry and add it to an ever-growing pile. They take their money and anything else of value they are carrying. It does not matter to them if you are crippled, sick, or have no place to go. The message is still the same: Convert or die. And so, rather than renouncing their faith, thousands of Christians have left Mosul and become refugees.
On July 27th, 2014 Jonathan Krohn observed
…the al Qaeda-inspired fighters who overran the city last month gave Christians an ultimatum. They could stay and pay a tax or convert to Islam—or be killed. Yacub, 70, was one of the few Christians remaining beyond last Saturday’s noon deadline. He may have even been the last to leave alive.
“[A] fighter said, ‘I have orders to kill you now’,” Yacub said just hours after the Sunni extremists tried to force their way into his home at 11 a.m. on Monday. “All of the people in my neighborhood were Muslim. They came to help me —about 20 people — at the door in front of my house. They tried to convince ISIS not to kill me.”1
As I read those words I asked myself what would happen in America if we were forced to “convert or die.” How strong is our faith? Sadly, I believe many weak Christians would convert rather than be put through major persecution. After all, not many people are willing to give up their $5 cup of coffee or sports/entertainment.
In Iraq the choice of being a Christian means you will probably lose your house and all your belongings—and may, in fact, lose your life. In America we define a Christian as someone who attends a church for an hour, maybe wears a “Christian t-shirt,” and doesn’t go watch the really bad movies. To Americans, persecution means that some politician didn’t vote the way we wanted him/her to—or a restaurant chain is singled out for their stand on traditional marriage.
So what happens then when the real persecution comes? And it will. How many people will be willing to give up their affluence in order to retain their faith? I suspect on that day there will be a separation—wheat and chaff—with many current Christians deciding “its not worth it.” To those I would ask, “Was it worth it to Christ to die for your sins?”
Persecution of Christians in America is growing. Are we rearing our children to be strong enough to stand? Will they renounce their religion and convert when they are truly tested or will they “fight the good fight?” It’s time American Christians wake up and look around the world and see what is really going on. It’s time to be informed. Parents must realize that simply raising Christians is not enough. The next generation in America must be warriors. After all, it’s quite possible that during your child’s lifetime America will see a dramatic rise of Islam. Will your child be like Samer Kamil Yacub—and be the last Christian to walk out of your city or will they simply convert?