I carried my sleeping baby upstairs, his warm cheek resting on my shoulder. My heart was pierced by very sad news. I looked at his crib, but instead carried him into our bed, tucking him close and warm against me. I needed him near.
“A friend just got a text message from her brother asking her to shower him and his parish in prayer. He is part of a mission and ISIS has taken over the town they are in today. He said ISIS is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed. But not the parents. The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. They are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families – even if it means their own deaths. He is very afraid, has no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called him for some reason to be his voice and hands at this place at this time. Even so, he is begging prayers for his courage to live out his vocation in such dire circumstances. And like the children accept martyrdom if he is called to do so.”
Friends of friends, casting a net wide for prayer support yesterday. I prayed, but it felt more like a groan, the words seemed so achingly small; all that came was “Lord, have mercy” and snatches of coherent petitions. What do I pray for you, bereaved parents who’ve seen your children murdered in front of you?
“This came this morning… Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from —- ——– who leads —————–. We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.
‘We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our —— team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it’s staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!'”
Dustin and I entwined our arms over sleeping Henrik, praying together for the people being targeted by ISIS, Christians and other faith minorities. For those working in the regions affected. Henrik slept on and I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of world he would know in his days.
I prayed too for the terrorists. It is no small thing to be a murderer of children; how deep the darkness in the soul to be able to do such! I prayed for eyes opened and hearts of stone turned to flesh. Though their crimes break my heart, I am also heartbroken for them; they will always be haunted by their violent deeds, and if ever they entertain the idea of disillusionment with their ideology, there will be those small faces before them, there will be that blood, and all of that horror. There is plenty of motive to keep their hearts hard and their souls darkened. The light reveals too much.
The news this morning revealed images of bombed sites in Syria. There are always little children on the periphery, isn’t there? Surveying these piles of cinderblock rubble? It is always jarring for me to see them on the edges of aftermath. I see you, little ones, and I pray for you; this isn’t the world as it should be.
Why is it that children are so often sacrificed on the altars of men? From ancient times, when babies were burnt to death in sacrifice to Baal, to the Egyptians commanding that all the Hebrew boy babies be killed upon birth, we have seen the most vulnerable among us brutally killed by the most powerful. WHY?
But isn’t the worst of it that it happens today, right here, in our modern, first world, United States of America? In clean, sterile clinics with smiling “nurses” and assuring “doctors”? (I put them in quotes because they violate their hippocratic oath to “do no harm”). Children are decapitated, dismembered, here, on our proud and self-righteous soil, thousands, EVERY DAY. Maybe not for a religious ideology, but often for a far weaker and more anemic one; convenience. And so our indignation resounds hollow, doesn’t it? Are we for life, or aren’t we?
People call the ISIS fighters monsters and call the abortionists compassionate. When will we open our eyes and let the light reveal the horrors on our own soil? The deliberate and cruel extermination of life most tender? When will we see?
I pray for the ISIS fighters and the abortionists, and the mothers laying back and spreading their legs for their children to be killed, that eyes would fly open, that hearts would be illumined, and that the tide of blood, the blood of the innocents, would be halted. Because one man’s, or woman’s, agenda should NEVER mean the death of a child.