A bishop is being credited for the rescue of more than 200 Assyrian Christians who were held captive by ISIS, but the heroic effort came at a steep price.
The Associated Press detailed in a report how Bishop Afram Athneil of the Assyrian Church of the East played a key role in brokering the release of the hostages as Syrian Christians across the globe worked to raise millions in ransom money.
Advocates for religious freedom told OneNewsNow that paying a ransom to rescue people is a very difficult situation – but one that is not new to Middle East Christians.
The fact that funds went to the Islamic State group – an act that naturally encourages more kidnapping – along with another consideration that ransom payments are illegal in some countries – obvious concerns have been raised over the issue.
However, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Rev. Thomas Reese warns people to not be so quick to pass judgment.
"I certainly am not going to pass judgment on anybody for anything they do to protect their families and their lives." Reese expressed. "From the comfort of my home in Washington, D.C., I just don't think it's appropriate for me to pass judgment on people who are doing whatever they can to survive."
In regards to the ISIS hostage situation, Will Stark, who serves with International Christian Concern, says that Syrian Christians and others feel like they have no one to whom they can turn.
"ISIS, as an organization – a s a group that has held down a large portion of territory in both Iraq and Syria – does need to be dealt with because there are ongoing atrocities that are happening like this."
Stark also maintains that the United States and other countries of influence should do more to stop ISIS and promote religious freedom.