They Say We Are Infidels, by Mindy Belz offers a close-up look at the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the rise of Isis. Belz has been a foreign correspondent for World magazine for over 25 years, so she has a first hand look at the tensions in the Middle East. This book shares her experiences visiting Iraq and Syria from shortly after 9/11 to the present.
When Belz visited Iraq and Syria, she didnt stay in the safe zones as many reporters do. She traveled from city to city, meeting with and staying with Christians in different areas and learning about their experiences. She describes life under Saddam Hussein, the hope and increased freedom in the midst of the material devastation after the Iraq war, then the increasing persecution and attacks on Christians as radical Islamists pushed their way into power in the new government.
Personally, I have never had a good grasp of Middle East conflict. Mainstream news covers the conflicts, but recently, Ive been wondering about the causes of these conflicts, the extent of Muslim hatred toward Christians and the West and whether there are any solutions toward peace in our time. I was surprised by what I learned. Although we dont hear much about Christians who live in the Middle East, this area was the birthplace of Christianity and there are still churches that date back to well before Islam began. Ten years ago, the Iraqi population was 10% Christian, although that number is rapidly approaching zero because of ISIS goal of creating a pure Islamic state. Many of the Christians who have been forced to leave simply wanted to live in their homeland side by side with their moderate Muslim neighbors. It was heartbreaking to read about the devastation that non-Muslims have faced and about the role the U.S. had in this by removing Saddam Hussein and the Baathist government, but failing to put forth the leadership that might have prevented ISIS and other radical Islamists from filling the vacuum. I cant say that this was a hope-filled book, but it gave me a vivid picture of the situation. Education is the first step in effecting change.
They Say We Are Infidels is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about Islam, ISIS, and the Middle East. I will definitely be sharing my copy with family and friends.
I received a free copy of these book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mindy is a reporter for World Magazine as an editor, this is her true story of what she witnessed during her stay in Iraq. She tells of how the people there really live on a day to day basis. Her detailed descriptions of living in conditions that consist of very little electricity, shortage of supplies, surviving attacks of ISIS and so much more. In this part of the world Christians are the target of everyday terrorists, held for ransom, children being kidnapped and people being tortured all because of their beliefs.
This is a book about today's world and everyone should read it. It is not a book for those that want a fun and enlighten read, it is true story that everyone should be required to read and understand exactly what is going on in the world. This will make you appreciate what you have in life, so many do not realize that your everyday services are luxuries to many others. During reading this book it makes you think, when you finish it keeps you thinking. I am still effected by this book and look at life very differently by realizing I am blessed for what I have, and many others just want a safe place to live. This is a very well written and touching book, you must read it. This book will change your life... you will be grateful you did.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
In an effort to understand the heart of a nation, journalist and World Magazine editor Mindy Belz spoke to its people. To connect the dots between ancient civilizations, a modern-day dictator, and a political force that operates with fiery religious zeal, Mindy joined forces with an Iraqi-in-exile, Insaf Safou, with whom she learned and followed the path of dreaming and waiting while letting no grass grow under their feet! Insafs concern for the displaced Christians of Iraq keeps her returning to her homeland with offerings of love and gifts of cash for basic necessities of life, thus introducing Mindy to the unseen and under-reported drama that forms the narrative of They Say We Are Infidels.
Mindys travelogue unfolds in twenty-one chapters, each of which could stand on its own, and she documents a breath-taking array of pandemonium: life in big-city Baghdad with unreliable electricity and insufficient supplies, a flight from danger with fifteen people stuffed into a mid-sized vehicle, a Caesarian section performed because theres no time for normal labor and delivery when the world is falling apart. When the stated choices are leave, pay the penalty to stay or be ready to die people flee by the thousands.
With twenty years of journalistic experience, it is no surprise that Mindys account of post-Saddam Middle East is anchored in historical fact and political backstory, while at the same time being deeply disturbing. Public displays of violence toward Christians are reminiscent of Nazi Germanys pogroms against European Jews, and the message is clear: Christians are no longer tolerated, and funded by seized assets gained through door-to-door looting, ISIS is in a position to carry out its agenda. Kidnapping children, selling them into slavery of all kinds, destroying churches, interrupting every normal function of life with their sweep of violence, ISIS moves freely through the Middle East, destroying and eliminating the nine years worth of gains won by the United States military.
Mindy helps her readers to understand the complex tug of blood and history that keeps a people group hanging on in hope while Christian villages continue to empty: spiritual roots that go back to the time of Jonah, a vibrancy of culture that spans centuries, and a fellowship of faith that is incomprehensible in the face of our Western tendency to remain scattered strangers in spite of shared church affiliation and weekly worship. This is not a pleasant or comfortable read, and I found myself identifying with Mindy as she compared her safe, secure, party-planning and cake-baking years with the experiences of women attempting to raise children and preserve a way of life in a land that was home to 1.2 million Christians in 2003, but had hemorrhaged down to an anemic 500,000 by 2011.
Although I read voraciously, I have remained largely uninformed about the danger and the destruction that has become the new normal to Middle Eastern families. Reading about the efforts of self-funded volunteers who risk their lives and resources to make a small difference, witnessing the fragile light of those believers who choose to stay in their homeland in hopes of helping through educational and humanitarian efforts, I realize that my ignorance is a luxury the world cannot afford.
One church in Indiana raised sixty thousand dollars to assist a struggling body of believers that fled Mosul in 2014. Their generosity provided eighty families (thats around 250 people) with rent assistance for six months. Could it be that the solution for Iraq will be not by troops and killing people, but by healing, through acts of generosity and self-giving that sustain and carry hope? In the strength of her calling, Insaf continues to travel to Iraq, where her efforts are compounded with fasting and prayer and fueled by words from the prophet Micah:
The Lord is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.
Insaf believes that God will melt the power of ISIS.
So, while churches continue to be bombed, pastors continue to be murdered, and families continue to be torn apart through kidnapping and refugee-living, the challenge comes forth: persecuted Christians need rent money, concrete floors, schools and backpacks . . . They need dignity too. They Say We Are Infidels is a challenge to join Insaf and her friends in action and in fervent and well-informed prayer, that the fire of persecution will become like cold water, cooling them, helping them . . .
May it be so.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Mindy Belz, senior editor of WORLD magazine, combines over ten years of journalistic work in Iraq and Syria in this gripping book, They Say We Are Infidels. Combining history, current events, and personal stories of Christians suffering at the hands of ISIS, this book was eye opening, to say the least.
I know so little about the history of Christianity in the Middle East, but the richness of culture and tenacity of Christians through centuries of persecution is truly amazing. As I read about the incomprehensible horrors that the past decade has brought to the church in Iraq, my heart was moved. Sitting in the spring sunshine on a lazy afternoon, listening to my children play, I wondered what I would do if I was faced with circumstances like theirs, of the like that I cannot even imagine. As a person who is not "up" on current events, this book was very informative. I don't think anyone could read this book and walk away without a burden to do something--give, pray, become involved in helping with local refugees, etc.. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about what is happening in the Middle East and the events that led up to the present.
I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishing in exchange for this review.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
They Say We Are Infidels brings knowledge and awareness to a world that otherwise may have been blind to the ongoing events in the Middle East, as well as its past history associated with those events. Not the events posted on the television, but those events which affect every day people in their once peaceful lives. Through experiences and interviews, detailed accounts are able to be brought into the light.
Routines and activities which are often taken for granted here in the United States are but dreams and hopes to the Christians residing in the Middle East. It is hard to even imagine putting oneself in the shoes of any one person written about in They Say We Are Infidels. Reading about the many types of conditions affecting Middle Eastern people makes any bad day in the United States a good day.