Finding the Savior in the manger
Rafif’s church is one of the places Open Doors has supported. The Christian education class she attends is one of the ways in which the children are encouraged to grow in their relationship with the Lord and follow Him despite ongoing persecution—and the fear of increased, future persecution. The head teacher, Mrs. Moshriq, leads the 20 teachers who educate the kids at this church.
With the support of Open Doors partners, the church has become a Center of Hope, a place that helps the Christian community with a variety of training and support. “We divided the children into age groups,” she says. “We tell them stories, but we also do activities so that they feel like they are part of the story. If we don’t support these children spiritually, they will not be able to overcome the pain and suffering they encounter.”
Moshriq continues: “It is important for the children to feel at home in the church and make the stories their own. We start eight weeks before Christmas, sending them daily online lessons about the story and the meaning of Christmas. We also continue our weekly meetings. We then help the children to tell the story of Christmas in their own words, or through a little play. On Christmas Day, they then contribute to the service.”
The lessons help Rafif work through what happened with her father. “There are stories in the Bible where people save the lives of other people,” Rafif says. Then, she jumps up in excitement. “When I hear those stories I think: Hey, that is my dad! He also died to save the lives of others, just like the special people in the Bible.” The Bible has become more familiar for Rafif thanks to the classes. “You know, whenever I feel like I am not in the right place, I read the Bible,” she says. “That gives me confidence that I am in the right place.”
Rafif knows Iraq is not the only place where children are persecuted for their faith. All over the world, millions of children miss their parents, face violence or are discriminated against for their faith.
“Every one of those kids should have a Christian education class like I do,” Rafif says. “They need to know their roots, and they need to know what the truth is, what the reason is they suffer. The most important thing I have learned in Christian education class is that God is always there for me; He never leaves me.”
With that, Mrs. Moshriq gathers the children, who each find a place to sit and grab their music sheets, perfectly socially distancing in the pews. In the darkness of this country filled with persecution, the children have found their spark: Jesus, who came to this earth and still is with us.
Rafif’s lips form the words of the song they sing together. The girl who lost her dad sings out: “Today, we are gathered with joy. The enemy has been defeated and our fear was taken away. Jesus was sent down from Heaven, glory to Him who sent Him to us.”