Early on in the crisis, IS militants in Northern Iraq daubed the letter on the houses of Christians (‘N’ standing for ‘Nazarene’) who were ordered to convert, flee or face death. In solidarity with suffering Christian brothers and sisters, many in the West (including some non-Christians) adopted the symbol themselves.
The scale of the suffering experienced by Christian, Yazidi and Kurdish minorities has been tragically represented, not just in rolling TV news coverage, but also in graphically gruesome articles on social media. For many it has been a wake-up call. Perhaps for the first time, some Christians have been made aware that persecution is as real today as it was in biblical times. See our report to find out how the situation has affected the Christian Church in Iraq.
Rightly or wrongly, I felt a sense of relief when air strikes were ordered to stem the progress of the militants. As Canon Andrew White (aka the vicar of Baghdad) affirms in his interview with us, real evil is very much alive in the world today. Yet somehow, Christians are also called to model the Christ who, even as they crucified him, blessed his enemies with forgiveness. It’s the kind of illogical and sacrificial love that allows White to say of his enemies: ‘We pray that they may come to us and we may be able to surround them with true love...’
In all this we are reminded that our duty to show love extends to everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation. Changing your profile picture is a small step; reaching out a hand of grace towards a Muslim neighbour may be a much larger one, as Steve Bell explains in his article on immigration.
You’ve been hearing from sceptics in our Faith Explored segment for several months. We thought it was time to redress the balance and feature some regular testimonies from people who have come to faith. Read about former atheist Guillaume Bignon’s extraordinary journey in our new regular testimony feature, ‘This is My Story’.
Despite the vast suffering, there is still much to be joyful about. The same love that neither death nor life nor any power is able to separate us from (Romans 8:38-39) remains with all who bear the name of Christ, wherever they may be in the world.