NUN: #AwarenessIsNotEnough

By Jeff Laird

If you've gone anywhere near Facebook or the internet in the last three weeks, you've probably seen symbols like these popping up. They're different versions of the Arabic letter "nun", the first letter of the word "Nazarene", and the symbol being used in Iraq to mark the homes of Christians. People are displaying them as a sign of "solidarity" with believers being horrifically persecuted by the self-styled Islamic State. It's a popular concept, and an easy one to participate in...probably too easy.

There aren't any clever or appropriate segues into a discussion of what's happening in Iraq, so let's cut to the chase: if you are concerned about the persecution of Christians by ISIS, you need to do something. "Doing something" does not mean merely acknowledging the problem. Or bringing the problem to other peoples' attention. Your profile picture does not deflect bullets from thousands of miles away. Hashtags do not provide nutrition for refugee children. Emoticons don't influence debates in the halls of Congress. Letting others know you're aware of a problem does not solve the problem.

None of those, in and of themselves, mean anything to Christians being viciously driven from their homes, by a group committed to violence and death.

I'm fully aware that there are many humanitarian crises in the world today. I know exactly how hard it can be to feel you're making a difference when there's desperation everywhere you look. But don't be intimidated or overwhelmed into doing nothing — do something.

So, in love and respect, let me ask again: have you actually done anything? Or have you simply wished, in some form or another, that somebody, somewhere, would do something? Made a gesture of "solidarity" without something practical to back it up? Put together a whopping 140 characters to share with the world? Well, stop doing nothing and start doing something. As Christians, we aren't called on to merely think, or believe, or have faith in certain ideas. We're expected to act on those ideas. Not encouraged to act, not requested to act, but required to act. Matthew 5:16, John 13:34, and 1 John 3:23 don't include the words "if you don't mind." We're obligated to do what we can to care for, love, and help others.

If you don't care about what's happening in Iraq, for one reason or another, you should. Even if you're disinterested in the religious angle, there are plenty of secular concerns at work. Groups like ISIS are cancers; given the chance, they grow. They metastasize. ISIS has stated a desire to physically attack Europe and the United States. Fourteen years ago most Americans would have rolled their eyes at that, but not anymore.

That we ought to pray about a situation like this should be a given (James 5:16). That's a necessary, meaningful, useful thing. But we're not called on to pray alone; we need to take whatever actions we can to fulfill the commands we're given.

What else can you do, or should you do? In short, use your political voice, help fund humanitarian aid, and make some noise. Those either directly or indirectly help to get results, in ways that passive gestures never will. These aren't radical new ideas, they're exactly what many others, in newspapers, blogs, podcasts, radio shows, and elsewhere have begged fellow believers to do.

First, contact your federal representatives and tell them you expect a response to this violence. For those living in the US, you can easily find your representatives with this link. My phone calls more or less said the same thing as my emails, which read as follows:
I am registered, active voter from your constituency. I am writing to express, in clear and unambiguous terms, the position I expect my elected representatives to take with respect to the ongoing persecution of Christians in Iraq.

This violence is happening at the hands of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Recent events have confirmed these atrocities to be real, and that those responsible are committed to death and destruction. Intervention is not only in the best interests of Christians and other religious minorities being attacked, but of the United States as well.

Regardless of whether or not US actions might have slowed or prevented these atrocities, our actions can have a positive impact now. Humanitarian aid, military intervention, intelligence services, and political pressure on our allies should all be used to whatever extent necessary in order to bring an end to this barbarism.

Thank you in advance for your efforts to resolve this humanitarian crisis, and for respecting the expectations of your electorate. I will be expressing the same expectations to my other federal representatives, and asking others in your constituency to do the same.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Second, donate to charities specifically providing humanitarian aid to those fleeing from ISIS. Open Doors and Christian Aid are groups focused on this kind of work, and which carry high marks for financial transparency.

Third, yes, raise awareness. It's important to let others know what's happening, and what they can do about it. By all means, change your profile picture. Tweet away. Fire off those emails. But don't fool yourself into thinking that a picture, a tweet, an email, or a blog post is all you can, or should be doing. Stop wishing "somebody" would do something — God put you here so you could do something. And He wants you to do it.

So, do it.

Awareness is not enough.

Christian Charities Working in the Area

Open Doors
Christian Aid
E3 partners

TagsChristian-Life  |  Church-Issues  |  Current-Issues  |  Hardships  |  Political-Issues  |  Sin-Evil

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Published 8-20-2014