ICC Note: After witnessing the reality of the brutal terrorist organization ISIS, Johnnie Moore decided to raise his voice and call the church to care for their suffering brothers and sisters. The book chronicles the pain and suffering of Christians in the Middle East, and puts names and stories to the brutality that we have heard is taking place at the hands of Islamic jihadists. The book calls on the church of the West to pay attention and speak up. Moore believes that if ISIS is not confronted where it stands today, it will be faced on our soil at another time.
06-09-2015 Middle East (World Magazine) Johnnie Moore wrote his first book, What Am I Supposed to Do with My Life?, based on his experiences working with college students as vice president of Liberty University. At Liberty, Moore became friends with TV producer Mark Burnett, who asked Moore to move to California to be his chief of staff. We talked about that change in our last conversation together.
But Moore was experiencing another tug on his life—a growing concern for Christians in the Middle East. His most recent book, Defying ISIS, chronicles the threat of the so-called Islamic State militant group to Christians and what we can do about it. We talked about his book last month in New York City.
How did you decide to write a book about ISIS? I believe that God gives you experiences for a reason. About a year before ISIS took over Mosul, Iraq, which was a city that had a Christian population going back almost 2,000 years (now, by the way, there are no Christians left in Mosul) … I happened to be traveling with my mentor, Rick Warren, and we attended a meeting in Jordan that was convened by the king of Jordan. The subject of the meeting was the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. In the meeting were three Catholic cardinals, five orthodox patriarchs and a number of Protestant and evangelical leaders. I sat in the back of that room and I listened as all of these leaders predicted exactly what we’ve seen happen in the Middle East. I just decided that because I knew that was happening, and it appeared that more was going to happen, that I had a responsibility to raise my own voice. I’ve progressively, slowly, and to a greater degree raised my voice over the last year.
Tell me about the book. It’s really a book of stories, isn’t it? I’ve been to Jordan many, many times and had gone to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan going all the way back to the very beginning of the Syrian conflict. It’s not that I didn’t know anything. One night, I was having dinner with, oddly enough, the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors in Beverly Hills. I went back home from that dinner, and I opened up my inbox, where I found an email with the subject line, “Awaiting Death.” It was from a pastor in Syria, and he was describing in that email, in live form, like a live reporter, the mortars hitting the buildings around him and then hitting his house. He wrote in that letter, “I don’t know what to do. I hear screaming everywhere. It’s dark now. Should I run outside? Should I stay in my bed and die?” It was like the diary of Anne Frank or something.
When I read that email, I had this moment where it’s like, “Okay, I got to go.” Within a month, I was in Iraq, and I was traveling around. … I met with Christians and Yazidis … and Muslims. I went from place to place, and I heard the same thing over and over again. From Christian brothers and sisters I heard, “We feel forgotten. When are you going to pay attention to our genocide?” I heard one Iraqi nun who’s taking care of thousands of people, Christians, Muslims, everybody else, Yazidis. … She told me, she said, “I lived in America. You’re wonderful people. I have an education from an American college. I love America, but I don’t understand why you won’t help your Christian brothers and sisters.” She said to me, “You take such good care of your pets. Why won’t you take care of us?”