There has been a long tradition of Christians living in Iraqi cities like Baghdad and Mosul. Christians have lived in Iraq for two millennia but are currently on the verge of extinction. Iraq has suffered from years of structural uncertainty, conflict and instability under a government incapable of enforcing the rule of law and providing a minimum of security. Iraq is divided into two parts, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north and the large remaining Arab part. Kurds and Arabs have their own languages and culture. Most of Iraq’s oil resources are found near Kirkuk and Mosul, the border areas between the Kurdish region and Arab Iraq, and these are amongst the most violent places of Iraq. Christians are caught here in the crossfire of two different battles: one for a Kurdish autonomous country and one for a religious cleansing of Iraq by Islamic terrorist groups who wish to make the country purely Islamic. On the other hand, amidst the current crisis, there are also sparks of hope as opportunities arise for churches to reach out to refugees
Iraqi Christian Dr. Rabia was rich. Very rich. Before IS conquered his village he owned three houses, many possessions and a lot of cattle. In a few hours he lost it all. Financially he is poorer than ever before, but spiritually he feels richer. “Because of IS, I have found Christ,” he admits openly. His mission: to share this newfound inspiration with whoever he meets and to help other Christians to stay in Iraq. And he is not alone; the ‘Jesus Lovers’ are there to help.
As I write, church bells throughout the plains of Nineveh are heralding the chimes of liberation. After more than 2 years of mass murder, freedom tolls - announcing the retreat of ISIS and other terror organizations within the region.
And while there’s great joy, it’s mixed with great sorrow . . .
The ISIS army is approaching. Raeed calmly grabs his stuff. “Whatever happens, Jesus will be with me.”
This weekend marked the 2 years anniversary of the mass displacement of refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in Iraq. In many places there were emotional memorial events.