August 04, 2015
Exploiting the Weak and Vulnerable Like Jesus Did
Post by Brittany Tedesco
You might remember hearing the word "Yazidi" for the first time last year. This ethno-religious sect of people were driven from their communities in the Nineveh Province in Iraq by ISIS terrorists. Between 40,000 to 50,000 fled to the top of Mount Sinjar to face a grim dilemma. Either they could await death by dehydration or descend the mountain to be raped and/or murdered.
Since last summer, ISIS has slaughtered thousands of Yazidis. Thousands more Yazidi women and children have been abducted and kept as sex slaves to be systematically raped. Yazidi girls continue to be sold in ISIS slave markets. Others have committed suicide to avoid being brutalized, or to escape the extreme torture and trauma they've already experienced.
Genocide is the word some have used to describe what is happening to the Yazidis at the hands of Muslim extremists.
But get this: as if these poor people hadn't already experienced enough abuse, did you know that another extremist group is targeting them?
Native missionaries deliver food to Yazidi refugees.
That's right. These extremists are entering their refugee camps—actually going inside their tents—to deliver food and supplies, sit and listen to their stories, pray for them, and—most egregious of all—share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
"If Christians expect Muslims to eliminate their radical elements, should they not do the same themselves?" asks an op-ed in Rudaw, a Kurdish e-newspaper.
The piece quotes excerpts of an article by Christian Aid Mission, and accuses evangelicals, namely native missionaries we assist, of exploiting traumatized Yazidis.
Three days later, Voice of America produced an article that compares Christians with Muslims in their victimization of Yazidis.
A Yazidi member of the Kurdish parliament is urging his government to block some Christian groups from entering refugee camps to keep them from converting his people.
After these articles were published, a native ministry leader we assist was called in by government officials who told him to "lower" his evangelism.
From what I gather, no one is calling for an end to the aid these Christians are distributing among destitute Yazidis—they just want the evangelicals to keep their mouths shut while doing it; to refrain from the type of radical Christianity that would attempt to convert others from their religion.
"They should not pass the thin line between offering aid and offering faith," the Rudaw piece declares.
I'm not shocked by these statements, not even by the fact that they compare Christians with ISIS. They're the same sentiments we're increasingly becoming accustomed to in the U.S. Those "coexist" bumper stickers say it all. One of the greatest evils of our day is trying to change someone's point of view.
Today's love is seen as the blind acceptance of even the most self-destructive behaviors. Otherwise you're a judger, hater, or bigot. Why should you impose your beliefs on anyone else?
And why would you exploit hurting, vulnerable people by sharing the gospel with them? At least wait until they're back on their feet! Jesus wouldn't act that way.
Except. . .Jesus did act that way. He "targeted" the hurting, weak, and vulnerable during His time on earth with physical healing or provision along with the message of Truth. He didn't ignore or wink at their bad behavior and wrong beliefs. He corrected both. He told them they were sinners.
He entered their hearts through their wounds. He didn't wait until they were "back on their feet."
Through its mobile clinic, an indigenous ministry in Iraq has treated many Yazidis, and led many to Jesus.
His love isn't like our "love" today. If He loved like 21st century society tells us to love—to leave people in their sin—He never would've died on the cross.
Call it exploitation if you'd like, the Middle Eastern native missionaries we support are interested in something beyond just filling empty bellies for the time being. Providing aid is not the end in itself, it is a means to a hopeful end: more souls in God's Kingdom.
Theirs is a love that looks strange to the modern man. It's not codependent, universally tolerant, or non-confrontational. It's a brave, risky love that compels those who've been reconciled to Him to proclaim reconciliation to those far from Him.
"The way evangelicals behave is an issue for all Christians," the Rudaw article states.
I agree. Their behavior is definitely an "issue" for all Christians. But far from being an indictment against these evangelicals, it's an indictment against complacent Christianity.
Can one be a moderate Christian, like one can be a moderate Muslim?
In a previous post, I argue that moderate Muslims are moderate because they're not fully following the teachings of their founder. If they did, they would much more closely resemble ISIS, which strictly follows the Quran, Hadith (Mohammed's teachings), and sïra (Mohammed's biography).
The closer one follows the teachings of Islam, the more they will resemble ISIS.
And I would make the case that moderate, or "progressive," Christians are moderate for the exact same reason--they're not fully following the teachings of their Founder.
The closer one adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the more they will demonstrate His radical, selfless love that isn't content to leave people where they are, in darkness apart from Truth.
The goal isn't to transfer people from one religion to another. Jesus Christ isn't a religion--He's the one and only lifeline to God, to eternal life.
Many religions respect Jesus--thousands of people "accept" Him as a prophet, teacher, angel, etc. The Yazidis have a slot for Jesus in their religious teachings.
The problem is that you can't accept Jesus on your own terms. To accept Him for who He is, you must accept Him on His terms. And He said that He is the only way to God. Any religion that offers an alternative way to God is incompatible with the claims of Jesus Christ.
To love is to share this with people.
The critics, those who desire to live life on their own terms apart from their Creator, don't understand this. They see it as exploitation.
But those Yazidis who desire to be reconciled to God are eager for a way to have the same peace in their hearts that those native missionaries have. Coercion is not necessary, nor does it happen by Christian Aid Mission-supported ministries. Aid isn't given only to those who show some interest in the gospel message. It's given to all who are in need.
Even still, there will be some who claim to want to follow Jesus because they see it as a way to secure future aid. I'd be naive to think otherwise. We even have a name for people like this: "rice Christians." In the U.S., we call them followers of the "prosperity gospel."
Jesus talks about them in Matthew 13:18-23: they accepted the message, but fell away when they experienced problems or persecution, or because they were more interested in chasing after wealth.
It's going to happen, and it'll be used to discredit the work these indigenous ministries are doing. But it's not going to stop them from following Jesus' example of offering practical help alongside the Good News.
Why? So that they will "see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16 NASB).
That's the goal: to "exploit" people in the same way Jesus did.