Ferguson, Oh Ferguson

As an outsider looking in at the situation in Ferguson, MO, I am dismayed. An unarmed young black man, ready to start college, was gunned down by a white police officer in broad daylight while horrified spectators watched. Then, we see video footage released from a convenience store showing him involved in a petty theft. Was this the first time he was involved in such a crime? We don’t know. We don’t know the whole story since we don’t have the policeman’s version of the incident. Did he think the young man had a gun on him because the stolen cigars were bulging in his pocket? What transpired is between the young man, the policeman and the friend who witnessed the shooting.

Then, the chaos and mayhem that ensued after the shooting leaves us shaking our heads. Why did the community feel the need to destroy property and steal from merchants in their town who provide jobs? What did they have to do with the shooting? Then, the retaliation against the convenience store which had already been robbed and now was being assaulted. When we see havoc like this, our sympathies become twisted. The tragedy of Michael Brown’s death is only compounded by the criminal, yes criminal, actions of his community. Our emotions are conflicted. While we feel sympathy for this young man’s family, how do we feel anything but revulsion for the response in Ferguson?

Our concern, as citizens, should be on the growing problem of violence in our country not only among private citizens but police officers as well. There is a hair trigger mentality afoot–shoot first and ask questions later. James 1:9 reminds us we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Our country has stopped listening and is quick to anger. We don’t want to hear what the other person has to say when we feel our personal rights have been violated. We want justice but as the situation in Ferguson is indicating there may be more to a story than what we first hear.  

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True Christian Persecution

President Obama recently ordered the air drop of humanitarian supplies to a religious group located in the Sinjar mountains in Iraq. The Yazidi, or Yezidi, are being persecuted and executed because of their religious beliefs. The terrorist group, ISIS, is forcing them to convert to Islam or die. These individuals are fleeing from persecution and the United States is doing what it can to help them.

Who are the Yazidi? This article, from NBC News, gives a synopsis of the group: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/iraq-turmoil/who-are-yazidi-why-isis-targeting-them-n175621

The Yazidi are a sect of Zoroastrianism. They believe in a supreme being who created the earth which is being watched over by 7 angels. They recognize Jesus as a great prophet and are friendly with Christians. But, they are not Christians as Christian is defined. As terrifying and tragic as their circumstances are, they are not true believers and it is false to tell their story by saying “Christians are being persecuted.”  We should be compassionate and desire to help these unfortunate people but let’s be honest about whom we are helping.  Syriac Orthodox and Catholics are being forced to leave their homes unless they convert to Islam. Crosses are being ripped down from churches and replaced with loudspeakers proclaiming Islam. True believers, who have turned from Islam to follow Christ, are considered apostate and face two choices: recant their faith and return to Islam or die.

Believers are being persecuted around the world and not receiving the kind of media attention as the Yazidi. Saeed Abedini is an Iranian American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and incarcerated in Evin Prison since September 2012. Pleas by Pastor Abedini’s family seem to fall on deaf ears and he languishes in prison because of his faith. There are no “compassionate” attempts to rescue him.

If you want to read about Christian persecution, visit the Voice of the Martyrs page. Here you will read about the persecution of true believers–those who have accepted Christ as their personal savior recognizing he is more than just a good prophet. These are people who face death every day and know what real sacrifice for Christ means. We need to pray for these Christians who endure extreme punishment simply for believing in Jesus Christ.