Now ruling over a swath of land across Syria and Iraq (and now Lebanon) roughly the size of Maryland, the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is responsible for violence, persecution, and fear which has driven out hundreds of thousands (millions?) of refugees over the past three years – and increasingly so over the past three months. You have likely seen stories of the rise of the IS across the media (e.g. CNN, Fox, and BBC).  Maybe you’ve seen the gestures of solidarity with persecuted Christians on Facebook and Twitter – or even ways to help.

The situation in Syria and Iraq is heartbreaking. We worked with many Iraqis during our time in Athens – many of whom I still count as friends (Kurds and Arabs; Christians, Sunni, and Shia; residents and refugees). I know their hopes and their fears… and my heart breaks for them right now. Please join me in prayer: pray for peace, for justice, for those who are suffering, for the hundreds of thousands of refugees, and for the millions more who have not escaped.

Vice News has gained unprecedented access within IS territory.  They’re telling the story of IS in a five-part series of short (10 min) videos.  Check them out below – or on the Vice News site here. [Warning: Some videos contain graphic images.]

Part I: The Spread of the Caliphate

Part II: Grooming Children for Jihad

Part III: Enforcing Sharia in Raqqa

Part IV: Christians in the Caliphate

Part V: Bulldozing the Border Between Iraq and Syria

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