In an effort to aid hundreds of thousands of Christians being martyred for their faith in Iraq and Syria, producer Mark Burnett and actress Roma Downey have launched a relief fund for the cause: Cradle of Christianity.
The pair has recently launched a number of television series and promising pilots, while devoting time and a substantial amount of money to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the displaced peoples.
“We want to wake people up to the horrors going on over there and speak out on behalf of religious freedom,” Downey told Variety.
The fund, which is in partnership with Virginia-based Institute for Global Engagement, is in response to recent reports of the persecution of Christian minorities at the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
The number of refugees in the region has increased steadily since 9/11. However, their numbers have swelled in recent months, flooding an area of Northern Iraq.
The Cradle of Christianity Fund has a goal to raise $25 million for relief efforts, and to push the governments of the United States and other countries to recognize the active threat against the people. Christians have been a silent minority for centuries.
Burnett and Downey have given $1 million of their own money to jumpstart the project. Downey said, “Imagine that you have these people who have been driven from their homes, and managed to survive an impossibly difficult journey, only to die of exposure in the cold, as the severity of winter is about to arrive.”
The husband and wife duo are using their star power to reach out to their industry friends, as well as the corporate world, to push for the fundraiser.
“If that makes more people aware of what is going on in Iraq and Syria, then we decided to let that awareness happen,” said Burnett.
Burnett and Downey sent Rev. Johnnie Moore and Institute of Global Engagement president Chris Seiple on a 10-day fact finding mission to Iraq and Jordan before greenlighting the project.
“It is so complicated from a political point of view,” Burnett explained. “But these are Christians who have lived there for thousands of years, together with Muslims and Jews and people other faiths. Suddenly, everything’s changed, and you have terrorist groups trying to overtake these countries.”