Below is an article I am preparing for my church newsletter. Please understand that I am not an expert of any kind in this field. I struggle to understand the complexities of these types of issues, which is the reason why I have to simplify it. Some co-workers commented it helped them get a clearer understanding, so I thought I would share it with you all.
Understanding the situation in Iraq can be quite difficult as it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many different terms and the mass volume of information. It is past time to simplify the matter.
What is the difference between ISIS and ISIL?
ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an Al Qaeda splinter group of approximately 15,000 soldiers. They are responsible for thousands of deaths in the Syrian civil war and in Iraq.
ISIL is just another name used, mostly by government sources, as ISIS is now gaining more influence and expanding its borders. It stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (which references the expanded region the terrorists want to occupy).
In short, it is the same group, just different abbreviations.
What do they want?
The goal of this terrorist group is to build a new country consisting of Syria Iraq, and a few other Middle Eastern countries, for the Sunni Muslims.
In their quest to gain control they are attempting to wipe out perceived enemies, such as the Iraqi government, American forces, Shia Muslims, and Christians by means of extreme violence, including suicide bombings and beheadings.
Thousands of Christians are being forced to flee from their homes in order to live as ISIS is calling for their conversions or death. Men, women, and children, no one is spared. In simple terms, ISIS is conducting a “religious cleansing,” meaning any religion other than Sunni Muslimism will not be tolerated and all will be put to death.
What time in history does this bring to mind?
Why should we care?
These Christians may be far away, but they are all brothers and sisters in Christ. They need our support. They need our prayers. Christians across the world need to unite and stand against such evils.
Furthermore, two American reporters have already been beheaded and threats against the U.S. Continue to escalate.
Think this can’t happen in the United States? Think again! In Mr. Obama’s Presidential Address on September 10, 2014, he stated there was cause for concern that Americans helping ISIS overseas now would try to return home to start attacks in the U.S.
On August 9, 2014, someone posted a picture of the ISIS flag unfurled outside the White House. The message attached, “we are in your state, we are in your cities, we are in your streets.” (Gil Kaufman-MTV News)
What can we do to help?
1. Get and stay informed-the situation is constantly changing and evolving.
2. Pray-pray earnestly and without ceasing. Fasting would be a great addition.
3. Raise Awareness-social media is a great outlet. Facebook users are changing their profile pics to the symbol of the upside down “N”, for a show of solidarity. Blogs and newsletters are another great way to get the word out.
4. Write to local and federal government officials.
5. Give-Christian Aid and Open Doors are just a few organizations collecting.
James 2:16-17 (NIV): If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Other Sources: http://www.kgwn.tv/home/headlines/Whats-the-Difference-Between-ISIL-and-ISIS;
Islamic State’s “Convert or Die” Demands Unchallenged-Global Society by Carrie Dedrick