Revs. Rodriguez & Moore Call on the US State Department to Reverse Its Decision to Deny a VISA to Iraq's "Mother Teresa"

NHCLC's 21 Martyrs Campaign to Address Persecution of Christians by ISIS

HOUSTON, Texas, April 30, 2015—At the conclusion of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/CONEL's annual meeting this morning, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC/CONEL, and Rev. Johnnie Moore, co-chairman and spokesperson for the organization's 21 Martyrs Campaign, issued the following statements in response to the U.S. State Department's denial of a visa to Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq.

Sister Diana Momeka

Sister Diana Momeka

"Our Christian faith must be preached, proclaimed, and protected," said Rodriguez. "Having invested her life in Iraq, Sister Momeka has preached, proclaimed and served, and now she needs to be protected. We cannot be complacent when our brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted around the world.

"In such critical situations, prayer is vital, but following up with action is paramount," Rodriguez continued. "Through the 21 Martyrs Campaign we are joining leaders together to pray, but we are also urging government officials to do more to specifically address the persecution of Christians by Islamist extremists and call upon the United Nations to convene a summit on Christian persecution around the world."

According to Moore, since her own displacement at the hands of ISIS, along with 50,000 other Christians from the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, Momeka has tirelessly taken care of thousands of displaced Christians, Yazidis, other minorities and displaced Muslims.

"Sister Momeka is a gift to the world and a humanitarian whose work reminded me—when I met her in Iraq—of Mother Teresa," said Moore, author of "Defying ISIS" and a key partner with the 21 Martyrs Campaign. "It is incomprehensible to me that the State Department would not be inviting Momeka on an official visit to the United States, as opposed to barring her from entry. She is an example of the best of faith at a time where religion is being used to cause so much harm."

"Iraq's Christians have faced the threat of eradication by ISIS," Moore added. "Reports of threats, extortion, imprisonment, sexual trafficking, forced conversions, and executions are abundant. The Christian population in Iraq has declined by 90 percent in the last decade and vibrant Christian populations in cities like Mosul have been entirely eliminated, not to mention the destruction of myriad churches. Why would the United States not welcome one of those whose faith persists in the face of this terror and whose compassion calls us also to compassion? This is a shameful decision that should be immediately reversed. I truly hope it was just a mistake."

Through the 21 Martyrs Campaign, NHCLC/CONEL has joined with religious leaders from around the nation to call upon all Christians to pray for and stand against religious persecution worldwide.

The campaign is named for the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians murdered in February 2015 at the hands of ISIS terrorists. Following the horrendous act, NHCLC/CONEL called for churches around the globe to allocate a minute of silence followed by a prayer reflecting upon the memory of those killed and for their grieving families.

NHCLC/CONEL is the world's largest Hispanic Christian organization. It serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and another 500,000 congregations spread throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora.

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