He told those preparing for the ministry what the cost of following Christ means in Iraq. He showed images of church bombings, of mass executions by radicalized Al Qaeda insurgents, and of church leaders who have been kidnapped and executed, including his own father.
The people of Iraq--Sunni, Shia, and Christian--are not for violence. Extremists are causing this. The seminary students were moved by his presentation and gathered around him in prayer for peace, for courage, and for hope.
He is a true peacemaker.
Many do not know that there have been Christians in Iraq for two thousand years. The story is not that Christians are the target of violence, as if that is worse than if Muslims, Buddhists or atheists are targeted for violence.
But the fact that tens of thousands of Christians (out of 600,000 Iraqis) have been killed since the Iraq War might make Christians in the U.S. open their eyes and ask themselves some questions. We ought to be asking ourselves...
- Why have violent extremists found a foothold in Iraq since 2003?
- Can we really end violence with violence?
- Do Americans care about the people of Iraq (Muslim and Christian) or do we care more about our myth of the people of Iraq?
- Do Americans care more for geopolitics (American interests) or the people of Iraq?
- As people of conscience, and speaking for myself as a Christian, how can we walk with integrity and with the people?
Mazen will make his final presentation tonight at First Presbyterian in Greeneville at 6:15.
For those interested in partnering with the people of Iraq, visit the Iraq Partnership Network.