Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Do you know what’s going in the Middle East right now?
Ancient Christian communities are being driven from their homes, churches desecrated and destroyed, thousands of men, women, and children killed — some even publically executed in brutal fashion for their faith. The Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mosul has been absolutely clear: “It’s genocide,” he said in a recent interview.
The Orthodox Christian Network has been covering this crisis since it began. If you want to know what’s going on, watch our most recent newscast, ISIS Committing Genocide Against Christians; read this helpful overview, Persecutions of Christians: What You Should Know; and don’t miss this shocking report, ISIS Just Emptied Nineveh Plains — 200,000 Aramean Christians Fled.
Faced with the enormity of this crisis and the inaction of most of the world, now is the time for all Christians and people of good will to act. Here are eight ways you can make a difference.
1. Donate to ACERO
ACERO stands for Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization. It is the official international relief organization of the Assyrian Church, whose ancient center of strength is precisely in the areas being hit hardest by ISIS in Iraq. For this reason, ACERO has deep connections to and active relief programs for the hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq who have been driven from their homes and abused by ISIS. Even a small donation of $5 would help feed children in refugee camps. Visit ACERO’s website for more information and to donate.
2. Donate to IOCC
IOCC, or International Orthodox Christian Charities, is one of the most effective and well-run international humanitarian aid organizations in the world. An agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, it has been working in close partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East to help a wide range of Syrians in need of immediate assistance, and it has active relief efforts in Iraq as well. You can read more about IOCC’s work in Syria here.
3. Share this Article
Get the word out by sharing this article with everyone you know. What is needed now is action, and donating to the two organizations above is absolutely the best way people throughout the world can help.
4. Spread the Word and Join the Discussion
Believe it or not, some people still don’t know what’s happening in Iraq and Syria. Share our recent newscast and articles with your friends and contacts on social media. And be sure to follow the OCN Facebook page for further updates and information. Our 260,000 followers include tens of thousands throughout the Middle East and from the Middle East. Often times, our followers post helpful links and provide invaluable insight into the reality of what’s going on. OCN’s Facebook page is an international community worth talking to and learning from.
5. Organize a Protest
#WeareN protests have been happening all over the world. Look into organizing one in your city or town, especially if there hasn’t been one yet. You can attract local media attention, and get the word out.
6. Contact Politicians
It’s always a good idea to voice your concern to the politicians who represent you — and demand action on the part of governmental powers.
7. Sign a Petition
There are all kinds of online petitions being shared on social media. It’s hard to know which is the best or most likely to produce results. But find one you think says it best, and let your voice be heard.
Lastly, let’s pray for our fellow Christians being killed, tortured, and turned out of their homes with nothing but a pair of clothes. But let’s make sure our prayer is not only done in private. Ask your priest to hold a special prayer service; or see if he will commemorate those being persecuted in a special way during the Divine Liturgy or during other liturgical events.
Let us know if you have other ideas or specific suggestions for how readers can act upon these eight ideas. And please feel free to share stories and pictures with OCN of what you are doing in your area of the world. Together, and with God’s help, we CAN make a difference.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.