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ISIS moves in on Christian Syrian city

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continued to encroach upon Syrian territory, occupying the town of Maheen Sunday.

Maheen is along an advantageous highway through the Homs Province, and conflict has already begun down the road outside of the predominantly Christian town of Sadad.

Housing 15,000 Syriac Orthodox Christians, 14 churches and a monastery, Sadad appears to be the next target for ISIS. It is estimated ISIS will utilize their established method of going door to door and offering each family two options: Abide by strict stipulations intended to protect the Muslim population from Christianity, or face brutal martyrdom.

The militant group has been invading Syrian and Iraqi cities in the name of perpetuating Sharia Law and establishing a caliphate since 2014, and it has recently spread to the African continent, massacring Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya in February.

Terry Law, founder of World Compassion, which brings humanitarian aid and the Gospel to nations in need, said all of the cruelty intended to silence Christianity serves a different purpose. Law cited the aftermath of the slaughter of Christians in Libya.

“Families of the martyred went on live television and publicly forgave ISIS, electrifying the nation,” Law said. “Muslims began to question—what kind of religion do we have?”

Law has developed close relationships with multiple contacts in the Middle East, including highly-ranked government officials and religious leaders. One of these, Archbishop Daoud of the Syriac Orthodox Church, spoke to Law in earnest of the disconnect between Syrian and American churches.

“We are your elder brothers. We are sitting here dying for our faith while you have no idea,” Law quoted Daoud.

And the disengagement is real.

“Never in my lifetime have I seen more Christians martyred for their faith than right now,” Law said. “It is a tragedy. We need government action, but we need young people to stand with fellow Christians.”

In fact, young people from around the world—Britons, Germans, Americans and others—are joining ISIS. Youth are attracted through propaganda and social media utilization and has resulted in the recruitment of over 15,000 people from more than 80 countries last year alone, according to the International Business Times.

ISIS targets “lonely, disaffected young people, especially women, offering power and control of a beautiful country. Promises they are unlikely, and probably unable, to keep,” said Law.

While there are dozens of ministries affecting the crisis on the ground in Syria and government officials arguing the appropriate way to end ISIS’s grip on the Middle East, students must not underestimate their own sphere of influence while living across the Atlantic.

While ISIS uses social media to recruit youth around the world, Law suggests using the same platform to combat the group through awareness.

“ORU students could mount campaigns to stand with the persecuted church,” Law said. “And never discount the power of prayer.”

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