Although hundreds of thousands of refugees are displaced from their homes in Iraq and their futures remain uncertain due to the siege of the Islamic State, The Vicar of Baghdad wrote in an online Christmas statement that Christian refugees in Iraq have not been deterred from exhibiting joy in the only thing they have left: the unconditional of Jesus.
Writing from his new temporary home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the only Anglican pastor in Iraq, said that even though ISIS has left these displaced Christian refugees with no homes, no clothes and, in some cases, no families, their faith remains strong in the "refugee child," Jesus.
"All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas," White explained. more >>
Some voices in the Cuban-American community have expressed displeasure with Pope Francis due to his involvement in getting the United States to lift its embargo of the Republic of Cuba.
Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff in the Catholic Church's history, was a strong proponent of the United States lifting its restrictions on the Caribbean island nation.
In response to his connection to the U.S. normalizing relations with Cuba, some have vetted their frustration at the pope. more >>
A spokesman for ISIS has claimed in an interview that it's only a matter of time before the jihadists expand and conquer Europe. He also defended the terror group's practices of mass enslavement and beheadings, and said that it plans to carry out "the largest religious cleansing campaign" in history, which will include the killing of hundreds of millions of people.
"No, we will conquer Europe one day. It is not a question of if we will conquer Europe, just a matter of when that will happen. But it is certain. ... For us, there is no such thing as borders. There are only front lines," the spokesman, identified only as a German ISIS fighter, told journalist Juergen Todenhoefer in an article for CNN.
"Our expansion will be perpetual. ... And the Europeans need to know that when we come, it will not be in a nice way. It will be with our weapons. And those who do not convert to Islam or pay the Islamic tax will be killed." more >>
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have announced that they've taken the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar back from Islamic State militants in a battle months after tens of thousands of minority Yazidis had to flee their homes while others remained trapped after the town's capture by the terrorists.
The Kurd soldiers, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, Saturday reached the flanks of Mount Sinjar, which was captured by ISIS early August, with food and other aid three days after they started a major offensive against terrorists, according to Press TV.
The fighters "succeeded in taking complete control of it and nearby villages," the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a tweet about Sinjar. more >>
Editor's note: This article is tied to a report on Yazidi immigrant Murad Ismael and NYC Pastor William Devlin's humanitarian trip to Erbil, Iraq. Read that report here: US Pastor Who Supported Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan Heads to Iraq With Yazidi Activist; Says Christians Can Pray, Give Money But Should Put Their Bodies on the Line. Also, read Ismael's account of the atrocities unfolding in Iraq under the Islamic State here: US Yazidi Returning to Iraq Amid ISIS Persecution Calls for People of All Faiths to Act.
NEW YORK — A New York City pastor traveling with a U.S. Yazidi leader to offer humanitarian assistance to religious minorities targeted by the Islamic State in Iraq believes Christians in America should do more to encourage believers living in some of the world's most persecuted countries.
The Rev. William Devlin, co-pastor of Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx borough of New York City and a former politician, is as much of an activist as he is a missionary. When the City of New York banned churches and other religious groups in 2011 from renting public schools for worship gatherings, Devlin embarked on a 42-day fast, was arrested in an act of civil disobedience, and publicly confronted then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg during an interfaith breakfast about the city's decision (which the current mayor has vowed to reverse). more >>
While U.S. officials say Islamic State, or ISIS, has been demoralized by losses it has suffered in Iraq and Syria due to ongoing American airstrikes, reports suggest that its militants are turning Christian churches into torture chambers and selling priceless artifacts in the black market.
"It [ISIS] was presenting itself as an unstoppable movement," The Guardian quotes an anonymous U.S. official as saying.
"That kind of unstoppable momentum has been blunted, to say the least. We have killed over 1,000 of their fighters, particularly in Kobani [city in Syria], and that gets to Raqqa [also in Syria] because they wanted to take Kobani and had been making the biggest flag they had ever made and they were going to put it up there because to them this is a war of flags." more >>