It was a heavy start to Holy Week—at least 45 Egyptian Christians killed and 125 injured on Palm Sunday. ISIS claimed responsibility, warning in Arabic that “The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons.”
While horrific in its toll and timing, this attack was no isolated incident. It is part of a global trend of intensifying persecution. Careful global studies confirm that religious freedom is in decline overall, and that Christian minorities in particular are suffering the most repression and discrimination at the hands of both governments and dangerous non-governmental actors.
How can you respond?
I know the scale of the problem can seem overwhelming, but here at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) we believe the word “hopeless” is an insult to our sovereign God. Here are two things you can do to become part of a hopeful—and practical—response.
1. Learn more about the persecuted church.
Learn about the patterns and root causes of persecution, and the strategies Christians around the world have developed to cope with and combat it. One terrific learning opportunity is coming up on April 20: Consider attending a one-day IGE co-sponsored symposium on "What Is To Be Done? Responding to the Global Persecution of Christians." The event is organized by the Under Caesar's Sword Project, and will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. There's still time to register for this free symposium.
And whether or not you can join us at the event in DC, be sure to read about the key findings of the Under Caesar’s Sword project in the just-released spring issue of The Review of Faith & International Affairs (RFIA), IGE’s quarterly journal. Check out the free introductory article by IGE Board member Daniel Philpott and Religious Freedom Institute Senior Adviser Timothy Shah. If you would like to subscribe to receive RFIA direct to your mailbox, you may do so here.
A street scene showing the aftermath of the liberation of the Christian village of Bartella from ISIS.
2. Donate to organizations working for long-term change.
Consider making an investment in IGE and its Middle East Program, which has been successfully implementing a comprehensive “3R” strategy to rescue, restore, and return Middle Eastern Christians and other religious and ethnic groups to a home where they can live and practice their faith free from fear.
- Rescue: Provision of emergency relief supplies such as food, hygiene, fuel, and clothing
- Restore: Resourcing educational opportunities for children and trauma healing and counseling, particularly for female victims of ISIS’ atrocities
- Return: Enabling refugee families to go home and live in safety and security
To date, through the work of 13 "Cradle Fund" partner organizations in five countries, we have served over 125,000 people.
With the imminent defeat of ISIS and the liberation of the regions where many of ISIS' victims had lived, we are preparing to move forward with the "return" phase of our strategy. However, the challenges are great as ISIS forces systematically destroyed many of the homes, churches, and basic infrastructure in refugees' hometowns.
Together with our partners, we have identified two projects as our top priorities: (a) a microloan project, which will assist entrepreneurs in setting up businesses such as clothing production, food production, auto repair, computer sales and support, crafts and homemade gift items; and (b) a home rehabilitation project, which will focus on repairing or rebuilding homes destroyed by ISIS. Please donate to IGE today and help us meet our immediate need of $50,000.
Thank you for standing with us in solidarity with the suffering church, and helping us build a safer and freer world for all vulnerable religious minorities.