Nissan Botros, his wife Bernadette, their children and grandchildren are among more than 120,000 Christians who, two years ago, fled the Islamic State’s onslaught in northern Iraq.
Together with 116 families, they have taken shelter at the church in Ainkawa, a roughly three-square-kilometre area in Iraq’s Kurdish region, and one of the few pockets still left for Christians in the whole of the country.
“After [ISIL] daubed the ‘Noon’ on their homes in Mosul, the Christians there left in our direction,” said Bernadette, referring to the Arabic letter ‘N’ for ‘Nazrani’, which ISIL used to mark the Christians’ properties for seizure.
Bernadette continued: “My niece was called by the new ISIL occupants of her home. They taunted her, saying, ‘We are now looking at your family photos on your laptop. We’ve also torn down the Christ images around your home!'”
“We would tell them: ‘Sit back then and make yourselves comfortable, but know that God will bring all this to judgement!’”
ISIL might have hoped to sever the ties the Botroses and others felt for their Christianity, but they have failed.
- Give thanks that, in the midst of extreme persecution and oppression, the Church in Iraq is growing and working together in unity, and many are finding comfort and healing through the witness and love of Christians.
- Pray for Christians in Iraq, many of whom are displaced from their homes and living in camps. Pray that their faith will remain strong, and they will continue to reach out with love and grace to the people around them.
- Pray for peace across Iraq and Syria, that the Prince of Peace who came as a baby that first Christmas will, once again establish His rule and reign in these troubles nations.
John 1 vs 1 – 5: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”