March 15, 2018
Dear Friend of Israel,
“I will tell you about my beautiful life and family before ISIS destroyed them.”
That’s Maryam, a 16-year-old Christian from a village in Iraq who is now in a camp in Jordan for Christian refugees. When The Fellowship visited the camp recently to coordinate aid for this embattled population, Maryam’s eyes seemed to look into the past, and she spoke to one of our staff members in a voice that barely rose above a whisper – a voice full of sadness.
She remembers the exact date and time that the radical Islamist terrorists arrived: 11:00 p.m., August 6, 2014. “The Iraqi soldiers fled,” she said. “ISIS came to our house and gave us three options: convert to Islam and fight for them, leave town within one hour, or stay and be slaughtered.”
Maryam and her family ran for their lives, eventually ending up at the refugee camp. Later, she learned that her entire village in Iraq had been destroyed by ISIS. Anyone who had not escaped and would not renounce their faith was murdered.
Tragically, Maryam’s experience is not unique. Vicious, cowardly attacks by radical Islamists are simply a fact of life for Christians in the Middle East. The problem is so bad that the Christian population in the Middle East is shrinking drastically. Christians now make up only 3 to 4 percent of the region’s population, down from about 20 percent a century ago.
The Fellowship is taking decisive action to help. We’re supporting Christian refugees in Jordan, those whose lives have been devastated by ISIS, by funding treatment and medications for them at a Christian-run medical clinic. And, with your help, we will extend a lifesaving hand to even more of these suffering people who are being brutally persecuted.
We all wonder how it is possible to go on after the suffering and loss Maryam and her family have experienced. For Maryam the answer is simple: When asked where she gets the strength to go on, she simply points to a picture of Jesus hanging on her wall. ISIS has taken everything from her, except the one thing they cannot take – her faith.
My friends, just as we continue to help Jews in need throughout the world and combat anti-Semitism, so will we fight the growing persecution against Christians throughout the Middle East. Today, please pray for them – that God will protect them from those who mean them harm, and comfort those who have lost loved ones in attacks. And pray that God will grant success to our ongoing efforts to help these Christians who have endured such suffering.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President