The number of Assyrians now living in the United States and Mexico after being forced out of the cradle of Christianity in and around Iraq by Islamic extremists may soon exceed the number of their counterparts living at home, according to author Eric Metaxas.
Metaxas, the host of the Eric Metaxas Show, a co-host of “BreakPoint” radio, and a New York Times #1 best-selling author, recently learned of this development. In an article that has been carried out by various news outlets, Metaxas noted:
More Syriac Christians live outside their ancestral homelands than in them. It’s possible that if present trends hold, there will be more Syriac Christians in the United States and Mexico than in Iraq.
These are the people we have been praying for when we pray for the persecuted—and they have a lot to teach us, not the least of which is how to remain faithful in the face of unimaginable oppression and persecution.
Throughout history, descendants from ancient Assyrian civilizations who still speak the language of Jesus Christ and his disciples—Chaldeans and Syriacs—have suffered persecution at the hands of Muslims who eventually became the majority in the lands once inhabited by Christians.
“Sunni, Shia, and Kurd may agree on little else, but all have made sport of brutalizing their Christian neighbors,” Metaxas writes.
More recently, the United Nations and the United States determined that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) carried out genocide against the Christian minority populations in the territories they controlled in Iraq and Syria and their surroundings.
Displaced by the ongoing conflict in their historical homeland, Assyria—which covers the once Christian-majority part of Iraq known as the Nineveh Plain as well as southern Turkey and Syria—many followers of Jesus left to the United States and Mexico.
To catch a glimpse of just how ancient—and strong—our Christian faith truly is, take a drive up the Jersey Turnpike. Say what?
How cool would it be to walk into a church filled with worshipers all speaking the same language that Jesus and his apostles spoke? You might think that you need a time machine. You don’t. You don’t even need to go to the Middle East. New Jersey will do.
Some of the Assyrians who stayed behind in the Middle East formed militias to defend their homelands.
Nevertheless, they have proven to be resilient, celebrating Christmas in places like Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, soon after the U.S.-led coalition and their allies pushed ISIS out.