Nineveh - a Christian Refuge?
- This bit of news is offered for our edification and contemplation, since we have just completed the three-day Fast of Nineveh and read through the story of Jonah - how he brought redemption to that Gentile kingdom, even though Jonah himself did not believe they would repent. Unlike Sodom and Gomorrah, the Ninevites were given the prophet and repented. And, although it has been through a turbulent history, Nineveh still exists and has been allowed, perhaps through the very mercy of God, to be a help to those in trouble. Reading through some news articles, I came across this wondrous development. Centuries and centuries after Jonah was sent by God for the redemption of Nineveh, it may become a refuge for Christians.
"Several Christian parties recently introduced an unusual bill in the
regional parliament in Arbil, the Kurdish capital. They proposed the
establishment of a Christian autonomous zone in the eastern portion of the Iraqi province of Nineveh, the traditional homeland of Assyrian Christians and now partly controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Under the bill, the Chaldean, Syrian and Assyrian Christian minorities would be granted official status under the constitution -- first by the Kurdish regional parliament and then by the National Assembly in Baghdad."
[source: "Fighting for Their Survival: A Christian Exodus from the Arab World" Spiegel Online - January 10, 2007, 05:09 PM http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,457002,00.html -
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.]
Nineveh, a refuge for Christians? We, in the Oriental Orthodox tradition that has kept the tradition of this fast, should not be surprised, but glorify the God of Israel that sent a prophet to the enemies of Israel for the their redemption - and ours. It should be of great comfort that Christians would also be considered Ninevites as we have all been called to take refuge in Nineveh every year. Let us pray for success of these efforts in Kurdish Iraq. Let us pray for Nineveh - and the Ninevites.
Fr John Brian
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Parish
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