Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 13, 2015

We Forgive ISIS

Amman, Jordan

To say that we have met some remarkable families this week would be an understatement. After a week of visiting Christian families from Iraq who suffered unimaginable losses at the hands of ISIS, we are all a bit emotionally exhausted. And yet, we are also encouraged because of the resilience and determination of these families to move on with their lives. They know that their homeland will never be what it was before ISIS moved in their direction. “ISIS,” one man said, “has set my country back hundreds of years.”

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This morning we visited with a family that is happy to be in a safe place in spite of all they lost. In Iraq, they owned a grocery store, some land, and had just completed construction of their dream home. They had just moved in to their new home, the dad told us, when ISIS moved in to their town. As with so many other Christian families, they chose to lose everything rather than deny their faith in Christ. They walked away from all of their material possessions taking with them only the clothes on their backs and the faith in their hearts.

As we sipped on small cups of strong coffee, the dad related another version of the same terrible stories we have heard all week. He talked about the violent persecution of Yazidis, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, by ISIS. Thousands of Yazidi women and girls have been kidnapped by ISIS and sold as slaves for as little twenty-five US dollars. He told us that he especially feared what might happen to his own wife and daughter at the hands of these heartless thugs.

And then this strong man with a soft-spoken voice said something that caused all of us to lean forward. “We forgive ISIS,” he said, “and we pray for them daily.” He said that he knows that his family will never recover any of the material riches they lost but that they will never lose their faith. “When we left our home,” he continued, “we carried high the cross of Christ.” Although they are starting again with nothing, he is not worried and knows that the Christ they love will care and provide for them.

As we continued our conversation, the man’s words — “We forgive ISIS” — echoed through every chamber of my heart. I leaned over to my friend Jamal and whispered, “This man has graduate level faith.” When you listen to a man like this say words like those you are forced to examine your own heart. I want to have that kind of faith.

As I thought about this man’s sincere confession of forgiving those who had turned the life of his family upside down, I reflected on how often people who have suffered petty-by-comparison-kind-of-stuff are unwilling to forgive. Some prefer to hold on to their hurts rather than forgive and experience healing. Graduate level faith is not easy to come by. We can never hope to reach that level of maturity if we refuse to forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus, after all, instructed us to forgive even when doing so is difficult.

We Forgive ISIS
Our team came to Jordan to bless and encourage Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS. In reality, what has happened is that these families have blessed us. They have taught us so much about a deeper faith in Christ — one that has been tested and refined in the crucible of persecution. They have certainly given us all much to think about, especially the next time we stubbornly hold on to stuff that should be forgiven, forsaken, and forgotten.


Responses

  1. Omar–thank you so much for your blogs on this trip, and thanks to Sterling too! I just keep asking myself–what can we do? I still have Jamal’s card and the GHNI pamphlet he gave me several months ago when we crossed paths in the office area…start there?

    • Hi Janet. Thanks for following our journey. Enjoyed seeing your kids this week in Amman. I can share some ideas with you about how to help when I get home.

      • sounds good—thanks Omar, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The Lord bless you and the team as you finish out this journey!


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