For the first time since ISIS drove all the Christians from Iraq’s Nineveh Plain in 2014, the Christian town of Qaraqosh celebrates Palm Sunday after many of its families have returned. During this week leading up to Easter, our team on the ground visits Qaraqosh to meet with Christians there.
Today, the world can see and hear the powerful truth—Christians have returned to the Nineveh Plain. Thousands of Iraqi Christians walked through the streets of the ancient town, waving palm and olive branches; praying, singing and remembering the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ. Their chorus: “King of kings and Lord of Lords. Glory! Hallelujah!”
Don’t Lose Hope
Amidst all this, we spoke with a 25-year-old teacher named Andraws. His message to Christians around the world was clear: “Please do not lose hope. Two and a half years we were displaced and we almost lost hope to ever return here. But today, we are here again, because of Jesus; because we had hope in Him,” he said.
Standing amidst the thousands of Christians, Andraws adds: “As you can see: the Christians have returned to Qaraqosh!”
Andraws and his family joined the march that ended with an open air service on the square of Qaraqosh’ St. John’s Church. The roof of the church served as a pulpit for the Church leaders, proclaiming the gospel, reading the Bible and leading the crowd gathered in the square into worship and singing Hosanna.
Start of Easter
Andraws, an English teacher in Qaraqosh’s recently reopened school, says: “Today is the start of the week of Easter. And we are very excited about it. I’m glad that we can celebrate Palm Sunday again in our city. Thank God for that. Because three years ago, something like that would never happened, when we were displaced.”
After renovating their house last spring, Andraws and his family moved back to Qaraqosh. In their freshly painted living room, his father shows us a video from his first visit to the house after the town was liberated from ISIS. Everything of value was gone or completely destroyed—ISIS fighters had ransacked and looted the place completely.
He shares how Palm Sunday is traditionally a huge celebration in Qaraqosh, drawing Christians from all over the region to join. “You can go anywhere in the world and you’ll not find Palm Sunday celebrated like here.”
Faith changed because of ISIS
The young teacher tells us how his faith changed after ISIS forced him and his family out of their town, leaving almost everything they owned behind because they refused to renounce their faith in Christ. “During the first days we were displaced, I felt like there was no God or Jesus; because of the things that happened to us. But after that, I realized that Jesus does exist and we have to believe in Him.”
“And because of Him, we are here today.”
He is glad that Christians all over the world will be following the Christians in Qaraqosh celebrating Easter this year.
“Because of this, I feel that we are connected with each other. Please have hope because you never know what the future will bring to us. Today we are here again, because of Jesus.”