For clearer insight into this purge of communities from their ancient homelands, we have journalist Mindy Belz to thank. They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East (Tyndale) [5 stars] contains reporting from her many trips to the region, during which she faced threats of being stoned, kidnapped, or murdered. . . . With her vivid personal accounts, Belz puts a human face on grim statistics. Some of these 21st-century martyrs were her friends. After reading They Say We Are Infidels, no one can deny their suffering.
Belz, senior editor of World Magazine, began covering international events at the end of the Cold War, and in the early 1990s she witnessed Islamic extremism rising to fill the vacuum left behind by the collapse of Communism and the vanished geopolitical influence of the U.S.S.R. That initial sense of a significant shift in the region’s power dynamics stuck with Belz, and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she began exclusively covering the Middle East. This book relates her travels throughout the region, including insight on the political situation and on-the-ground reportage. Belz traveled multiple times to dangerous locations in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to report firsthand how Christians were being driven from their homes, tortured, raped, and killed. She structures her account in chronological order, detailing the strangers who became friends and their harrowing escapes together that will leave readers alternately angry and frustrated at the international community for failing to take action on behalf of these displaced people. Belz’s journalistic style makes this weighty text palatable, as her own story is woven through each thread. With militant groups continuing to grow and wreak havoc throughout the Middle East, Belz’s account of life under siege is the latest in a chorus of voices rising up to demand an end to violence against the region’s Christians.
To be a Christian in Iraq and Syria is to live in mortal danger. Churches are bombed, pastors murdered, children kidnapped. Families whose ancestors have survived two thousand years in the region where Christ and his disciples walked now risk elimination by Islamic terrorists. Journalist Mindy Belz has spent more than a decade covering persecuted Christians in the Middle East. They Say We Are Infidels is her brilliantly reported account of what it means to be a follower of Jesus there. It is the harrowing and often inspiring story of men and women of unshakable faith.
Mindy Belz’s book should be nominated for Book of the Year! The world cannot continue ignoring the genocide and persecution in the Middle East. Read this, then buy copies for all your friends.
This sensitive, informative, and beautifully written book possesses all the immediacy and emotional power of a novel. Yet it combines meticulous reporting of real people with an enormous knowledge of the contemporary Middle East.