Maybe you have seen a somewhat Arabic-looking smiley face with a dot in the middle all over the Internet and social media, and had no idea what it was. The illustration contained here in Publisher’s Point will bring you up to speed, but hopefully, you won’t stop there. The Nazarene symbol, (the smiley face thingy), is used by ISIS much the same way that the yellow Star of David was used by the Nazis against the Jews: it means that ultimately you are marked for death. If you are a Christian in Iraq, you have already seen a veritable holocaust, and yet, hope is coming in some gutsy ways that I want to tell you about.
When I was about 10 years old, several years before I became a Christian, I learned in Sunday School that in the early days of the Christian Church, believers would meet other people in the road, and draw with their sandal the top half of the fish symbol, the equivalent to the Arabic/Nazarene symbol in the time of the Roman Empire. If the other person were also a believer, they would complete the bottom half of symbol with their sandal, thus drawing a fish in the dust. Both people would know, (or at least hope), that the other was safe. I have never forgotten that story, and it is painful to know that while I live in freedom in the USA, others are being beheaded. Until recently, I did not feel able to do much more than pray.
And while I don’t believe we are yet in the Great Tribulation as classically portrayed in the book of Revelation, it cannot be denied that there is “great tribulation” and bloody persecution of Christians all over the earth—in China, North Korea, and the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. And, through the blessing of technology, there is something you can do to help Christians in Iraq and Syria.
There is a project that is called the Nazarene Fund, and it has raised millions of dollars to get Christians out of Iraq and Syria, and to safety. What has impressed me the most about this particular project is the use of lessons and questions learned and asked by the intelligence community when it comes to “screening” people to determine if they are authentic and genuine candidates for repatriation. This prevents dollars of well meaning people from being squandered, and does more to make sure that people are the “real deal,” and therefore veritable candidates to start a new life in a new land.
Right now there is a new airlift being organized, and like any good “op,” not much can be said about the details, other than the fact that a jet is being chartered, and another wave of people are going to make it out alive. We could not do much here in the States during WWII to save Jews, but I have heard the stories of many in Europe who risked their lives to get Jewish people to safety.
However, we as believers have a vetted opportunity to do what could not be done 75 years ago, and if that is something that would seem like a worthwhile way of expressing thanks and solidarity during this holiday season, you can go to www.now.mercuryone.org to find out more about what you can do. The Nazarene is being celebrated, and many of the Nazarenes in the Middle East can indeed be spared.