Iraqi born pastor Jalil Dawood of the Arabic Church of Dallas, who, along with other Christian leaders will be holding a rally on Sept. 14 in support of Iraqis who are being persecuted by the Islamic State, says there are five things Americans can do today to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.
"What Americans can do today is write to their representatives and tell them the U.S. government needs to take more aggressive action toward the Islamic State, because this group is not only a threat to Iraq, it's a threat to America, eventually. And we need to deal with them now, before it's too late," Dawood told The Christian Post.
"I heard the president say last week that he doesn't have a strategy. Well, ISIS' strategy is to kill us. Their strategy is to convert us and kill us," he asserted.
The second thing Americans can do, he said, is to provide tangible assistance to the 250,000 refugees in Iraq through trusted nonprofit organizations that are helping Christians and other religious minorities who've been forced to leave their homes to flee the terrorist organization.
Pastor Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship, who will be a featured speaker at the Dallas rally, told CP Thursday that three of the nonprofits that have been helping Iraqi Christians are Open Doors, Samaritan's Purse and Voice of the Martyrs.
Dawood added that when Americans write to their representatives on behalf of Iraqi Christians, they should ask that the government allow them to immigrate to the U.S. within six months, and to provide humanitarian aid through the United Nations while they're waiting, "so they don't suffer or [resort to] selling themselves for sex so they can survive."
He also believes that there needs to be special criteria for Iraqi Christians who are seeking asylum, one that is separate and apart from the current quota system that is used for Iraqis who are immigrating to the U.S.
"There needs to be a special category to be accepted faster because these people are really the victims of this conflict," he added.
Fourth, and the most important thing Americans can do, he said, is to pray.
And fifth, Dawood encourages Christians to take part in rallies and speak at their churches to bring greater awareness and attention to the plight of Iraqi Christians who are being persecuted in their homeland.
"To be honest with you, I'm surprised that churches here are not doing anything — anything that is tangible," Dawood said.
"There was a London demonstration talking about suffering in Gaza and the people living in Gaza. They raised $11 million toward Gaza. The church is not raising anything significant [for Iraqis] and the needs are tremendous. This is our time to reach those people through Christ," he continued.
Another way Americans can help Iraqi Christians is by contacting their local Arabic Christian church and support that community by helping to meet the needs of Iraqis who've immigrated to the U.S. and are transitioning to their new lives.
"Support that church," he said, "because that church is trying to reach out for Christ's sake to the immigrants and refugees — some of them are nominal Christians or Muslims. We need to at least tell them: 'You are not alone. We love you; we pray for you; and we will help you tangibly, in this way.'"
"The church needs to reach out to those minorities in order to win them to Christ and be impactful, and not [leave them] to segregate into communities and ethnic groups. Get involved with the community; help the community; love the community that is around you. And serve the people and the churches that are already meeting the needs of these people," said Dawood, who emigrated from Iraq to the U.S. in the 1980s.
While the Sept. 14 rally is being held in Dallas, Dawood is encouraging everyone who lives outside North Texas to hold simultaneous rallies in their communities; not only to show support for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in Iraq, but to pray and find tangible ways to help.
"Do something practical, not only in words but in deeds," he advised. "We need to speak; we need to shout to the Lord, we need to shout to the nation."
"This has to do with people of our faith. This is not an Iraqi issue, this is a global issue and it will touch us if we don't do something about it," Dawood emphasized.
"Like Bonhoeffer said, if we are silent in the face of evil we are agreeing with it, we are part of it; we become accomplices and are allowing it to happen. We don't need to wait. We need to take action now and be heard before it gets too late."
The DFW rally to support persecuted Christians will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 in front of Dallas City Hall in Dallas, Texas.