By Michael J. ARVIZU
As violence continues to rage in Iraq and Syria this week, faithful and religious gathered on a quiet Thursday night at First Baptist Church-La Crescenta for prayer, meditation and a candlelight vigil for peace in the Middle East.
About 100 people attended the service on Aug. 28. It was made up of laity of all ages, and religious leaders from Montrose, La Crescenta and Glendale.
The service began with song, followed by prayer.
On the church’s projector screen, in what has become a poignant symbol of the conflicts in Iraq, was the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet (pronounced “noon”), and equivalent to the Roman letter N. The letter has been used in Mosul, Iraq by the Islamic State, formally known as ISIS, to mark Christian homes and businesses. In Mosul, over 3,000 Christians have fled.
“The [symbol] is now being shared on social media as a symbol of solidarity with the Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes,” National Review reported on its website. “[It] stands for Nasara or Nazarenes, a pejorative Arabic word for Christians.”
“And we know that, all the way around the world, here in La Crescenta, California, we can touch the world in Iraq and Syria, because we appeal to the one who does all things well and hears our prayers,” said Jon Karn, pastor of Light on the Corner Church in Montrose, during his prayer.
Clips from NBC News and the Christian Broadcasting Network showed reports of the fighting taking place in Iraq and Syria. The clips were interspersed with graphic video of dead bodies, and children, burning towns and wailing villagers.
“The events all across the Middle East are just tragic,” said Ara Piranian, a resident of Lake View Terrace. “The whole region is destabilized.”
Tod Hessick, 25, a resident of Montrose, felt distress and disgust at seeing the clips. The only positive attribute he can discern is the concern Americans have shown for people halfway around the world.