For the first time since ISIS drove all the Christians from Iraq’s Nineveh Plain in 2014, the Christian town of Qaraqosh celebrates Easter after many of its families have returned. On this Good Friday, we visit Qaraqosh to meet with Christians there. Today we meet with Adrian (20), who shares the ongoing suffering of Iraqi Christians and asks you to stand with him in prayer.
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Adrian is 20 years old and lives in Qaraqosh, Iraq. He is one of the 25,000 Christians who returned there last year. Recently, he works in an optician shop in one of Qaraqosh’s shopping streets.
We speak with him on the square of the iconic Tahira Church in Qaraqosh, one of the largest churches in the Middle East. This courtyard was used by ISIS as a shooting range, a training ground for new terrorists. The marble pillars of the church are riddled with bullets and still remain as silent witnesses to ISIS’ hate of Christianity and the cross.
There has been a lot of focus on ISIS in the international media the last few years. But on this Good Friday—the day where Christians all around the world remember Jesus’ suffering—this young believer points out that Christians in Iraq already are under pressure long before ISIS came, and that they still feel threatened today. “So, suffering is something that Iraqi Christians can identify with, very easily.”
Christians are kidnapped, hurt and killed
Adrian paints a broader picture of decades of pressure on Christians from Qaraqosh. “For example, during the war between Iraq and Iran in the nineteen-eighties, many people from Qaraqosh were captured or killed. We still feel the effects of that in our community,” he says.
There is a museum in the center of Qaraqosh, where all the killed and disappeared soldiers from the village are remembered. Several of Adrian’s relatives are among them.
“But also more recently: from 2003 up until today, Christians are getting kidnapped, hurt and killed all the time,” he says. “Especially in cities like Mosul and Bagdad. Just earlier this month, three Christians were stabbed to death in Baghdad.”
Stand with Adrian this Easter
The message this young Christian has on his heart to share with us is that living here as a Christian in Iraq will always be a challenge. “Just realize that,” is what he asks.
“And yet,” he says. “My grandparents, my family, myself; we are still here. Still standing. Can I ask you to stand with us in your prayers this Easter? Because we want to remain here. Thank you very much.”