Many people have been reading about terror in Iraq for so long that the idea has lost its power, but the destruction has escalated far beyond normal levels. The United Nations reports that 2.8 million people in Iraq currently need food, and 800,000 urgently need shelter. The U.N. has enough resources to assist about 40 percent of those in need.

Christians are a particular target of the chaos, and more than 90 percent of Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been displaced over the past generation. Read More

The Teen Pregnancy Crisis is Worse Than You Think

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Pastor Saeed Abedini has been in prison in Iran since the summer of 2012. His story is long and heartbreaking, and you can read the entirety of it here, but, suffice to say, all attempts to secure his release have thus far been fruitless. In the midst of deplorable prison conditions, he has written this Christmas message to his family, and it is absolutely worth your time.

These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me. These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? ... Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today, we, like Him, should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world ... It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

You can read the whole thing here ... Discuss

Up to 1 million residents of Iraq and Syria have been displaced in recent months following the spread of the brutal militant group known as ISIS. But, this week, 60,000 children who were forced to flee their homes got to receive a little holiday cheer—in the form of Operation Christmas Child boxes. Along with some toys, school supplies and personal notes, each shoebox also contains assorted hygiene items and was assembled by volunteers in Europe, the United States and Canada, organized by the group Samaritan’s Purse. On December 10, the boxes were loaded onto a jet to be delivered to a refugee camp in northern Iraq that is home to tens of thousands of kids. The project’s director told Christian Headlines, “They are doing the best that they can in a tent community, a tent city. These shoeboxes will just be additional forms of encouragement. These conditions are difficult. We are unable to change their permanent condition, but we are able to provide a moment of hope and a reminder that these children are loved” ... Discuss

In the United States, IQ scores of "approximately 70" are generally considered to constitute a level of mental disability severe enough to preclude the death penalty—the idea being that the person in question's mental level is too underdeveloped for execution to constitute a proper "punishment."

Those guidelines are clearly not set in stone, because they were defied twice on Tuesday. In Georgia, a man named Robert Wayne Holsey, who has an IQ of 70, was executed after a court denied his appeal on the grounds of his mental ability (and also the fact that it turned out his lawyer had been drinking "a quart of vodka a day" during the trial.) Holsey was executed for killing a sheriff's deputy named Will Robinson in 1995.

In Missouri, a man named Paul Goodwin with an IQ of about 73 was also executed. Goodwin beat a 63-year-old woman to death in 1993, and his execution marked Missouri's 10th execution this year, tying it with Texas for the most in America ... Discuss

12 Nelson Mandela Quotes Every Justice Advocate Should Read

On the anniversary of his death, some of the influential leader's most insightful quotes. Read More