ARTICLE: Asia Bibi and Growing Religious Intolerance in Pakistan

ARTICLE: Asia Bibi and Growing Religious Intolerance in Pakistan

By Erin Rodewald // November 1, 2016

(This article originally appeared at 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative

In 2010, record flooding devastated Pakistan, killing 2,000 Pakistanis and displaced an estimated 20 million more. Today, a new kind of flood imperils this beleaguered, Muslim-majority country — a flood of hatred, religious intolerance and vigilantism inspired by the nation’s draconian blasphemy laws.

In the year of the flood, Asia Bibi, an unassuming Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani government. Her crime: Drinking a cup of water. The charge against her was blasphemy, and her sentence was death.

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BOOK REVIEW: Is Jesus Worth It? A Review of ‘The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected’

BOOK REVIEW: Is Jesus Worth It? A Review of ‘The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected’

By Erin Rodewald // August 30, 2016

(This article originally appeared at The Philos Project)

As midlife crises go, Nik Ripken’s was a whopper. After years of blood, sweat and toil, his life’s work lay in ruins. His enterprise had failed, he was forced to flee his home, and he buried his beloved son, all in the span of a few months. Not surprisingly, Ripken was left with hard questions – just not the questions one might expect.

Ripken is a missionary. He and his wife Ruth followed their hearts to Africa in the mid-1980s, serving first in Malawi and then in South Africa. In 1991, with a young family in tow, they traveled to Somaliland, a region in northwestern Somalia devastated by drought and civil war. In the face of total societal collapse, the Ripkens aimed to bring humanitarian relief to a desperate people, and in so doing, demonstrate the love of God to an un-churched people.

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ARTICLE: Will Pope Francis Raise Awareness of Today’s Genocide in the Middle East?

ARTICLE: Will Pope Francis Raise Awareness of Today’s Genocide in the Middle East?

By Erin Rodewald // September 24, 2015

(This article originally appeared in The Christian Post)

When Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. this week, there are many who hope he will again speak the word that global leaders have been reluctant to speak: Genocide. In remarks made last June while in Bolivia, the Holy Father proclaimed, “Today we are dismayed to see how the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus…a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”
It is hard to ignore the horrifying images of the humanitarian crisis gripping northern Iraq and Syria in recent years: families struggling atop Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to flee ISIS death squads…ethnic minorities gunned down en mass for refusing to abandon their faith…the wholesale destruction of historical monuments and holy places.
Yet these images are incongruous with our modern sensibilities. Such barbarous accounts are more consistent with the brutality of the Middle Ages. Surely in the enlightened 21st Century we have learned from past mistakes.

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ARTICLE: No Church Bells Rang: Ancient Communities Under Attack

sister-diana-momeka

Sister Diana Momeka

By Erin Rodewald // May 18, 2015

(This article originally appeared in The Philos Project)

For the first time since the seventh century, there are no church bells ringing across the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq. The region has been emptied of Christians and other religious minorities, forced to flee from the ravages of Islamic State loyalists who overran cities and villages last summer.

This week, Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq – herself a victim of ISIS – traveled to the United States to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and bear witness to the atrocities of ISIS. She spoke softly, but her words resonated with power and truth. She has given a voice to the persecuted church.

Momeka described the impossible choices ISIS demanded of the Christians of Mosul, Qaraqosh and the surrounding towns: either convert to Islam, pay a tax (jizya) to ISIS or leave their ancestral homeland with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. By Momeka’s estimates, more than 120,000 Christians escaped to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where they languish even now in small, prefabricated containers and makeshift shelters. “This uprooting – this theft of everything that the Christians owned – displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity,” she said.

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ARTICLE: A Mother’s Heart: Remembering Iraq’s Persecuted on Mother’s Day

ARTICLE: A Mother’s Heart: Remembering Iraq’s Persecuted on Mother’s Day

By Erin Rodewald // May 8, 2015

(This article originally appeared at The Philos Project)

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States and many other countries around the world. It is a happy time to celebrate motherhood and the nurturing role that mothers play in shaping our families and our culture.

When my girls were small, they delighted in showering me with gifts: breakfast in bed, flower bouquets plucked from our garden, handcrafted trinkets fashioned from Popsicle sticks, string and glitter. Of course, the greatest gift was the joy these precious children infused into my life: their giggles, their hugs and their endless questions. My dearest desire and most fervent prayers have been for their health and safety and for the fulfillment of their dreams.

It is as a mother, therefore, that my heart breaks for my counterparts in the Middle East who are overwhelmed by unprecedented persecution simply because of their Christian beliefs. What of their dreams? What of their prayers? Here in the West, we worry whether our children are doing well in school, whether they have friends and if they are being treated fairly on the soccer field. The worries of mothers who have escaped places like Mosul, Qaraqosh and the villages near Sinjar Mountain are of the existential variety: Can I feed my babies today? Will they have a place to sleep? Will my children be kidnapped in the dark of night?

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