What You Can Do About the Crisis in Iraq {Part II}

If you missed the first part yesterday, you can click here to read about the background of the crisis in Iraq and why we should care about it.

What You Can Do About the Crisis in Iraq - Tirzah Magazine

So What Can You Do?

When a problem of this magnitude arises, it’s easy to feel like we cannot make a difference. But I assure you, we have many tools available to us; and our involvement, no matter how small, MATTERS.

1. Pray

The book of the Bible that seems most applicable in this situation is Nehemiah. When Nehemiah learned of the heartache of the Jewish people, even though they were far away and he’d never met them, he was moved with such compassion that he mourned and prayed day and night for months.

Even though it would have been easy to do since he held a trusted position in the palace, Nehemiah did not shut himself away from their pain. He placed himself before God, and God used him to bring relief and safety to the Jews. And it all happened because Nehemiah humbled himself and prayed.

God did the work of setting up the people, the timing, the resources, and giving favor with the King of the Persian Empire (Nehemiah’s boss). This story is a prime example of how we ought to approach being of help to others. Nothing can happen without prayer.

We have direct Biblical proof that our prayers have influence - and greatly so:

“For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed — beyond our strength — so that we even despaired of life.  Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.” -2 Corinthians 1:8-11

So, what should we pray for?

Pray for perseverance and endurance. For comfort amidst the grievous suffering. For healing of the hurts caused by losing loved ones to such brutal deaths. For the ability to forgive their persecutors. For freedom from bitterness and hatred. For continued trust in the Lord. For strengthened faith. For provision of daily needs.

For opportunities to meet together in fellowship, to sing songs and hymns, to study God’s Word, to comfort and encourage each other, all while forced to flee. For physical stamina on the long treks over desert ground without access to food and water. For the light of Christ to shine through them in gentleness, hope, love, and selflessness, so that even other refugees from other religions can see the difference in the lives of the children of God.

For peace and joy for these dear saints, to sustain their hearts, and for eternal perspective so that they would remember and hold onto the hope that this is not all there is, and real life is coming soon. After all, Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2).

For the pregnant mothers, children, and elderly who are being hit harder by the trek than those stronger in body. For the ability to keep a spirit of gratitude to the Lord in spite of all that’s happened. For refreshment of their bodies and spirits. For wisdom to know where to go from here, what to do.

For the men in IS to see the light and come to know Jesus as their Savior. After all, it was while Paul was persecuting Christians that he met Jesus and his life was transformed; so it’s not impossible for militant Islamic soldiers to come to know Jesus through this crisis.

All of this and more is wrapped up on prayer wall too. Any other suggestions?

2. Fast

My pastor challenged our congregation to fast last week - the choice of what that looked like was different for each person. Some fasted a meal, some fasted from a food for a day, some fasted from sweets or social media or some other pleasure.

But the point was to remind us as we go through a very minor form of self-denial, that whatever discomfort we feel is felt FAR greater by those in Iraq. It makes you much more aware of what it means to be in need of food and water when you are going without and the stomach pains won’t let you sleep; and that awareness leads to greater compassion and a willingness to actually give. Use the time you fast to focus on prayer for these dear hearts.

In some cases, fasting may actually save you some food money that you might consider giving to one of the aid organizations working in that area. Which leads to the next option.

3. Give

Yesterday, I drove with my mom and sister to a town nearly four hours away where my sister is moving into the college dorm for the first time. We ended up discovering a few snags that prevented our moving her things directly into the room, so I had to sit with her stuff on the curb outside the dorms while she and Mom got those issues straightened out. It was extremely hot and humid, and I hadn’t considered the weather in dressing for that day, so my pants and shirt made the heat worse. I was literally dripping sweat, and after an hour, began wishing that I had brought water with me.

I realized that the discomfort of the heat I was experiencing was probably similar to what the believers crossing the desert are facing right now, trying to find temporary shelters. It got pretty miserable.

Then, all of a sudden, one of the college workers came by where I was sitting with a cold bottle of water and handed it to me! I thanked him and guzzled down the water. I don’t remember a time I have felt so relieved, refreshed, revitalized, and strengthened to go on, all because I got a drink of cold water when I was getting dizzy from the suffocating heat. It instantly brought home the realization of just how important clean water is for refugees.

Yes, it’s just water and food - the daily necessities. It may not feel like it’s actually very important, or helping much. But it is. To them it is the difference between strength and faintness, and in some cases, life and death.

Two reputable organizations that are working hard to get materials to the refugees are Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision.

4. Write

Providing physical necessities is important right now, but things can’t stay this way. A real solution needs to be found. And the only way to galvanize conversation and action from the people who have the power to do something about the situation is to ask them.

This situation needs to be more than just a headline discussing ISIS’s latest move. This needs to be on the stage of public conversations and political discussions. But we don’t need a knee-jerk political reaction - a problem this big cannot be dealt by a quick bandaid solution that makes our leaders look competent. It needs careful attention and a long-term plan. In order for this to happen, our leaders need to know that we care about this. It’s their job to represent us and our interests, but they can’t possibly know what those are unless we tell them.

Please, would you take time to write to your state’s representatives and senators? Tell them how important this is to you, and furthermore, tell them that you are begging them to pursue a long-term solution, not a temporary bandaid. Ask them to pursue conversations with fellow political leaders to discuss options for handling this problem.

[pullquote width="300" float="left"]Don’t discount a single voice, because one small piece is all it takes to get the rest moving.[/pullquote]

You can also write to news outlets - tell them you would like to see more coverage of this issue, that they ought to talk to refugees and leaders in Iraq and the surrounding areas, so that people can see the reality of how this is hitting refugees.

We need legit news sources to bring back truthful evidence - with all of the different theories and accusations running around, it’s confusing people who want to do something to help but are unsure of the truthfulness of reports. News coverage that goes beyond the current hot topic will help solve that problem by giving clear evidence of what is really going on.

If you would like, you can also write to the President and to the leaders of the UN asking them to give this matter weighty consideration and take to heart the suffering of the refugees who need help.

If these groups get hundreds, or even thousands, of letters addressing the same things, they’ll have to at least start paying attention, and we will have done the best we can to be a voice for the voiceless.

5. Speak

This goes hand in hand with writing to officials - we need to talk about this. It needs to be on our social media feeds. We need to talk about it on our blogs. It ought to come up in conversations. The more people are made aware, the more people can pray, give, and raise their voices. Like a domino effect, don’t discount one small piece - because one small piece is all it takes to get the rest moving.

AbIDowSPIf you are interested, many are using the hashtag #WeAreN and changing their social media profile pictures to the Arabic version of the letter Nun - it stands for “Nazarene,” and is the letter IS has painted on the doors and walls of every business and residence owned by Christians.

They intended it for harm, but let us turn it around for good, and identify with our brothers and sisters who are standing with our Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Do me a favor though - if you do this, say something about why you’re doing it. Hopefully that will then spark conversations with others.

Will you join the Tirzah community in being prayer warriors for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Will you give what you can in the spirit of James 2:14-16?

Please, don't just read this article and go on with your life. You are called to be an agent of social change and a light in the darkness. Your prayers can move mountains and save nations. Let’s be obedient together in being instruments of grace. For who knows but that we have the resources we do for such a time as this.

// image via cnn