Yesterday was a big day for Open Doors.
To understand why, you have to go back to 2014 when Christians from all over Iraq were forced to flee due to the advance of ISIS. Noeh, a 12 year old local–along with his family–was among those who had to leave his village in the Nineveh plains.
For almost three years, Noeh’s family was forced to live as displaced people in the city of Erbil, 40 miles east. But recently, after ISIS was driven out, they were finally been able to return home to rebuild their village! (Watch the video of their return below.)
But the story gets even better.
Because not only did they return home, but Noeh, his father, and priests Father Behnam and Father Thabet were also able to travel to the United States this week. (Watch an interview with Noeh from a prayer event in New York city here.) These friends from Iraq spent the last couple days joining Open Doors staff members in taking the needs of Middle Eastern Christians before various U.N. and government officials.
This includes yesterday’s meetings where our guests from the Middle East were able to present the Hope for the Middle East petition to the U.N.
This is the same petition, launched by Open Doors, that many of you have signed as we’ve shared it over the past few months. It calls upon government and U.N. officials to ensure Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria are guaranteed the right to:
- equal citizenship
- dignified living conditions
- a prominent role in reconciling and rebuilding society
Noeh and the rest of the delegates presented the completed petition, which was signed by 808,172 people from 143 countries, to the office of the UN Secretary General. It was received by Kyoko Shiotani, Chief of Office at the Office of the Under-Secretary General.
After hearing the needs that Christians in Iraq and Syria identified to be included in the petition, Shiotani said, “You’ve addressed this to the right place. The UNSG is personally committed to recognizing that any successful political outcome must include the minorities within the region. We will make sure the UNSG receives this.”
As a gift, Noeh presented Shiotani and her team with disfigured marbles–the only toys that survived when ISIS burnt his home. Thanking Noeh, Shiotani said, “This is probably the nicest Christmas gift we’ll receive this year because it’s from your heart and your home.” The UNSG team also presented Noeh with a Christmas gift in return.
Among other offices, members of the Middle Eastern delegation met with the Chef de Cabinet of the President to the UN General Assembly, Frantisek Ruzicka; the Deputy-Director of UNHCR, Grainne O’Hara; the UK Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft; and even U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
You can watch Facebook live videos about Noeh’s trip to the White House below.
Met w/ 12-yr old Noeh from Iraq. ISIS destroyed his home & he fled leaving everything behind. When they returned, their town was burnt to the ground. The plight of Noeh & thousands of others like him is why @POTUS ordered us to directly aid the persecuted. Help is on the way! pic.twitter.com/v5skBC5Ys3
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) December 14, 2017
Here at the Open Doors offices, we could not be more excited about what God is doing to bring attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who long to stay and rebuild their community–continuing the 2,000 plus year history of Christianity in this region.
If you were drawn into Noeh’s story and want to play a part in Open Doors’ work with partners restoring communities in the Middle East, there are plenty of opportunities. We’re currently attempting to raise $340,000 to help rebuild homes for 85 families in Iraq and Syria. And every little bit helps.
CLICK HERE to give to rebuilding in the Middle East.