There is often despair among the thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees during the long winter months in camps in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq.
But Open Doors worker Raja (her real name protected for security concerns), who helps displaced people in Kurdistan, reports some positive news.
She says: “A few weeks ago a displaced couple in my church shared their love story, smiling and holding each other’s hand. The story made me smile as well. They were both in their 20’s and hadn’t known each other before fleeing from Mosul. But in the refugee center, as they phrased it themselves: ‘only a thin mattress wall separated us from each other.’”
They are engaged. But the wedding will not have all the frills of a normal wedding.
Raja adds: “The crisis changed everything in the lives of refugee, including marriages. Many couples had to leave everything behind when they decided not to deny their faith. They have no money and no home.
“So those who marry in the camps don’t have as a big party as they would have had in Mosul. Often there is no money at all for a party. The church provides the rings and the ‘honeymoon’ usually consists of no more than three days in a hotel. Then they return to live among the other refugees with little privacy.”
Churches prepare the couples for the challenges they might face living their lives as newlyweds in a refugee camp.
“One priest told me that he has had as many as 230 marriages in his church since the flight from Mosul last year,” says Raja. “He is offering wedding counseling to couples who wish to get married. They gather all the engaged couples once a week and learn about marriage from different perspectives. They learn about marriage from a biblical perspective and also from a psychological perspective. These lessons might be more important now than ever before since they begin marriage under the added stress as refugees.”
Iraq is ranked No. 3 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.