Christians in Qaraqosh rejoice that Rana Esso was freed after three years of captivity by ISIS. She returned home to her family Monday, August 28 after she was liberated in the suburbs of Tal Afar in northwest Iraq.
Together with Rana, 3 Yazidi women were released, though very little information is known about the Yazidi women currently. The Yazidi population, an independent religious minority in Iraq, suffered severely under the reign of ISIS in this region of Iraq.
The release of the Christian woman and Yazidi women is following a week of intense fighting in and around Tal Afar, which is seen as one of the last remaining strongholds in Iraq.
Video footage on social media shows that Rana’s homecoming is celebrated by a cheering crowd with local music and dance of Christians in Qaraqosh. A local contact of Open Doors said, “All Qaraqosh people were celebrating her release.”
Though the relief of being free is great, please pray for Rana. No information is known about her emotional well-being, but it’s no doubt these three years have been incredibly challenging. Pray for full restoration and good care for Rana, and also for the Yazidi women.
The Unfolding Story in Iraq
There are currently an estimated 250,000 Christians in Iraq, but this is a stark difference from the 1990s when there were believed to be around 1.5 million Christians present. The steady decline of Christianity in Iraq took place over decades, mostly after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the rise of Islamic extremism. In 2014, ISIS proclaimed a An Islamic State led by a caliph, a political and religious leader seen as a successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. His power and authority are absolute. More in large parts of north and west Iraq— devastating the presence of Christians in the region.
However, God is writing a new story in Iraq—a story of hope—as many Christians are returning home to their cities and villages after the defeat of ISIS. But these Christian families often have to start over with next to nothing. Their houses, communities and churches have been greatly damaged.
Your support for believers in Iraq is accomplishing great things. And it’s part of a bigger mission—to restore the Christian community in the region. With your prayer and partnership, we will stand with Christians in the area and help them return to their homes, rebuild their churches, restore their communities and glorify the name of Jesus throughout the land— brick by brick, home by home and church by church.