45,000 Christians Who Fled Iraq Now Face Persecution in Turkey; U.S. Churches Urged 'To Wake Up' to the Crisis

Refugees sit in front of their tents in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, Turkey.Reuters

When thousands of Christians fled Iraq to escape the brutality of Islamist extremists who have occupied their land, they must have thought that a better life free from the shackles of fear and bondage awaited them.

They were devastatingly mistaken.

These Christian refugees numbering about 45,000 are now eking out their lives still facing persecution and deprivation in villages and slums in Turkey surrounded by distrustful Muslim residents, CBN News reports.

Juliana Taimorazy, president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and a senior fellow with the Philos Project, pointed out that Christian refugees in Turkey have been warned not to reveal their faith or even wear crosses because their Muslim neighbours might discover they are Christians and force them out. Local Muslim charities and even mosques would also refuse to help them if their Christian identity is revealed, she said.

She said these Christian refugees wanted to settle in a country like the United States where they would be free to practice their faith and live peaceful lives. Unfortunately, she said the U.S. State Department is not doing anything to help them settle in the U.S. or in any other safe country.

Taimorazy said with the U.S. government turning a blind eye on them, the Christian refugees are pinning their hopes on churches in the U.S. to help them. However, she said these U.S. churches are slow to wake up from the humanitarian crisis affecting fellow Christians halfway around the world.

"There have been some churches that extended help, financial or prayer, but this is such a monumental situation that we need more churches to wake up," she said.

Taimorazay suggested one way where Christians in the West can help their persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East. This is by raising awareness of their plight by hosting prayer vigils. She said she and the Philos Project have developed a prayer vigil kit called "Rise Vigil" for Christians who want to help fellow believers in Christ.

She said another way Christians can help is by joining her organisation's massive campaign, #Feed1000Families, to help feed the displaced and persecuted Christians in Turkey.

"If we don't talk to our fellow Americans, our fellow Christians, in our churches, and if we don't pray unitedly for the body of Christ, the Middle East will be empty of Christians," she warned.