by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The real faith and courage of persecuted Christians was on display in an exhibit held Dec. 2-3 at Savior Pastoral Center here.
The exhibit, “A People, A Face, A Newness in Everyday Rubble,” was about the life of Syrian and Iraqi Christians who have fled ISIS/ISIL forces and found a precarious refuge in neighboring Jordan.
The touring exhibit consists of more than 20 poster-sized photographs with accompanying stories, and a 20-minute video testimony.
Local members of the movement Communion and Liberation heard about the exhibit, which was originally at the New York Encounter, an annual three-day event held in mid-January in New York City, sponsored by Communion and Liberation.
The exhibit was displayed the last week in November at Benedictine College in Atchison, and then moved to Savior. The local showing was sponsored by local Communion and Liberation members and the archdiocesan office for social justice.
“[Tens of thousands] of Christian men, women and children are being murdered, and this reality has yet to permeate awareness here in America,” said Bill Scholl, archdiocesan consultant for social justice. “Our vicar general Father Gary Pennings has been very concerned, and the office for social justice has been looking and praying for ways to engage the church in northeast Kansas.”
Freelance journalist Martha Zaknoun, who was born and raised in Jerusalem but lives in Toronto, created the exhibit. She and friends put it together to document and explain the horrific and tragic events experienced by these displaced Middle Eastern Christians.
“It’s to be a voice for these Christians who are forgotten,” said Marina Carrizosa-Ramos, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood and a member of Communion and Liberation.
“We hear about the atrocities on the news, but we don’t actually know about how they live,” she continued. “We wanted to share their stories.”
What is lacking in the news stories is the strong and enduring faith of the Christians, who are even able to forgive their enemies.
“We really liked how the exhibit takes the grim reality of ISIS genocide and focuses on the Christian, merciful responses of their victims forced into exile,” said Scholl. “These people suffer, but they don’t hate, and they don’t despair because they are closer to their Catholic faith than ever.”