A Haunting Peace

On Saturday afternoon I had the opportunity to visit the 911 memorial in downtown Manhattan.

The memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.la-911-memorial-32-lrdlqjnc1-528x352

The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels around the sides of the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The water flows into deep caverns where the Twin Towers once stood, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.

As I paused there at the site, the experience was almost haunting.  A callery pear tree which was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches, has been nursed back to life and stands as a living reminder of resilience and survival.

The 16 acre site in Manhattan attempts to bring peace to the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  However, there is no peace for thousands of Christians in Syria and Iraq who suffer today at the hands of Islamic terrorists determined to eliminate Christianity and reestablish an Islamic caliphate.  The agenda of ISIS is the agenda of the 911 terrorists – covert to Islam, pay the special Jizya tax or die.

The last remaining Christians of Mosul in Iraq have been running for their lives after the Islamist militants who control the Iraqi city threatened to kill them if they did not convert to Islam or pay the Jizya tax. The ultimatum was issued giving Christians until noon on Saturday (July 19) either to comply or leave Mosul without taking any of their possessions with them.

Those fleeing were robbed at checkpoints set up by ISIS; the militants stole the Christians’ cars, money, food, jewellery, mobile phones and anything else they were carrying, even medicines. Over 85 families reported having all their possessions taken; hundreds of Christians had to walk over 40 miles to reach safety after ISIS stole their cars, arriving at Tel Afar exhausted and dehydrated.

A colleague of mine in Iraq wrote in an email last week describing the situation faced by Christians.  In one large Christian area, ISIS has demanded that the water supply be turned off in an attempt to cause the Christian residents to flee for their lives.

The relative peace and religious freedom we enjoy in the United States is not experienced by many thousands of Christians today in Islamic dominated countries such as Syria and Iraq.

The right to religious freedom, including the right of individuals to change their religion, is taken for granted by most people in the West. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18) states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief…”

However, in Islam, all schools of law agree that adult male apostates from Islam should be killed. If the death penalty is not implemented, Islamic Law also specifies various other penalties for apostates, including the annulment of their marriage, the loss of their children and all their property, the suspension of all financial and legal contracts and inheritance rights, all to be returned if they revert to Islam.

Islamic scholars must stop the self-deception which claims that Islam is 100% peace, and with honesty, recognise the violence that continues to exist within their religion today.

We who are Christians must pray fervently for our suffering brothers and sisters around the world, especially those in Syria and Iraq at this time, and call for religious freedom in all countries where that freedom is currently denied.



True Peace For Israel And Gaza

The current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority continues to result in tragic loss of life on both sides of the border. Recent reports suggest that over 700 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 4,500 people injured in attacks on the strip. On the Israeli side the death toll has risen to 35 people, which consists of 32 soldiers and three civilian casualties. The UNRWA reports that over 100,000 people have been displaced by Israel’s military offensive.

palestinian-youths-security-fenceIsrael has been accused of deliberately targeting health facilities including hospitals and preventing first responders from having access to injured civilians. While any loss of life is tragic and should be avoided at all costs, much of the world is led to believe that Israel is the only aggressor in this conflict and that Hamas, which governs Gaza, is innocent of perpetrating any atrocities in these current hostilities.

As nationally syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said, “Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.”

Little is ever reported in the Western media about the fundamental beliefs and declarations of Hamas whose charter defiantly declares that, “Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”.[1]

It is naïve to believe that negotiations, land deals, economics and politics will bring a lasting peace in this current conflict. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who now leads a unity government with the terrorist organization Hamas, clearly stated in a 2010 Jerusalem Post article that an Independent Palestine would have no room for the Jewish State, “…when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it.”[2]

The current conflict in the Middle East today is much deeper and far broader than a matter of secure and recognized boundaries for two independent states. If an independent Palestinian State is established, it will be a state governed by Islamic Law and both Jews and Christians will suffer as a result. Current developments in Iraq and Afghanistan, both countries whose US backed constitutions incorporate sharia’ law, should be sufficient evidence to sharpen our focus on the plight of minorities living under Islamic administrations. In countries where sharia’ (Islamic) law is implemented, Christian converts are severely persecuted, some face imprisonment, beatings, torture and death. Documentation to illustrate such suffering is widely available.

While political negotiations and international conversations are important, they must never become for Christians a substitute for the proclamation of the historic gospel message. Christians everywhere, locally and globally, must make the effective proclamation of Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world an urgent priority and pray that true shalom would come to Israel, the Palestinian territories and all the nations of the earth.

We have a responsibility to be involved! To Pray. To provide aid and relief. To proclaim Christ.

Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the one and only eternal solution that will bring certain peace to Israel, Gaza and a world racked with pain, violence and injustice.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! Psalm 33:12.

Eternal God, the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may truly serve you, whose service is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Augustine of Hippo (430)


[2] http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Abbas-vows-No-room-for-Israelis-in-Palestinian-state