I don’t know how much you have heard about the current crisis in Iraq. It is often mislabeled as a “civil war,” or passed off as “those middle easterners at it again, fighting amongst themselves.” But many fail to understand that Iraq is in the middle of an international humanitarian crisis that qualifies as genocide. ISIS (or Islamic State) is going into towns and killing all of the men, and taking the women and children, forcing them to convert to Islam before trafficking them as slaves. They do not intend to stop until Yezidis and Christians are exterminated. This extreme Muslim sect is laying aside any label they may have had (Sunni, Shia etc.), and fighting anyone that they come into contact with. Their goal is to take over the world, and they say that they will not rest until they control land from China to Spain. They fully intend to raise an ISIS flag in the White House.
I have been devastated by ISIS’s activities, because I have personal contact with Lincoln Nebraska’s 860 Yezidi refugees. These 170 families have emigrated from Iraq to Lincoln since the 90’s to find a safe place to raise their families. Yezidis are a peaceful, non-Muslim minority that has experienced intense persecution for their faith in Iraq. You can learn more about who the Yezidis are at www.yezidis.org. The Yezidi nation has withstood so many attempts at genocide since the time of Mohammad, that they use a genocide-based dating system: they will say: “Before the 73rd attempted genocide, this person was born,” or: “After the 50th attempted genocide, they built this temple.” They tell stories about their time in Iraq, about not being able to buy material or food from the nearby towns, because Muslims would not sell to them. I had the opportunity to learn more about their culture, and share the love of Jesus with people in Zakho, Iraq, in 2008—even at that time, I could see how the Yezidis were discriminated against. I had one Yezidi man in the English class that I taught, and everyone made fun of him. They said things like, “I don’t know why he needs to learn English, he won’t be doing anything with his life anyways.”
I have had the privilege to be a part of a small para-church ministry to Iraqi refugees here in Lincoln for 10 years now. We do weekly Bible clubs for grades 1-8, and I have continued with a ministry to high school girls. Through these outreaches, I have built solid friendships with many of the city’s Yezidis. In this current crisis, as we are filled with a sense of hopelessness and despair, they have welcomed me - along with my pastor and his wife - into their lives and homes in a new and exciting way. We are welcomed to pray with them, to share Jesus’s love, and “mourn with those who mourn”.
So what can we do? You may ask.
Well, first off, pray! There is such a desperate need right now for God’s people to step up and pray for the Yezidis to turn their hearts to Him, and walk away from their worship of anything else. Pray for the Yezidis here in Lincoln to stay focused and not lose hope. Pray for those in Iraq who are sharing the Gospel with those who are displaced from their homes there in Iraq.
Secondly, www.yezidis.org has information on how to contribute financial aide if you would like to be a part of that.
Thank you so much for remembering the Yezidi nation in its time of need.