In a report from Open Doors, an Iraqi Christian girl displaced by ISIL has shared how God used the horrific experience for good and allowed it to make her a more “patient and forgiving person”.
Athraa and her family, were forced to flee Quaraqosh, Iraq, after ISIL took over the town in 2014. Athraa related: “I remember that I wasn’t worrying too much that day. We didn’t think the situation would last long, we didn’t even take our identity papers.”
However, the situation turned out to be far worse than Athraa expected: “The first months were a disaster. We lived in many different places. We lived in a wedding hall and a church garden. We ended up in a tent in a sports centre. It was a really difficult.”
She and her family of nine spent the harsh summer months sleeping in a small tent, where food was poor and water scarce.
Despite the “terrible” situation she has endured, Athraa said she believes God has used it for good. She now lives with her family in a house rented by the local church, and shared how the church has changed her life.
“After the displacement I was bored, there was nothing to do, so I went to church more often. Soon I got involved with a Bible study group that gathers twice a week. I discovered that every line in the Bible tells us something. But what I like best is when we … celebrate Holy Communion with the priest in the way the people in the time of Jesus did. We have a piece of bread and share that with each other.
“It is something wonderful. It gives me patience to continue my life, to see things from a bigger perspective.”
While her family hopes to someday return home, they are confident in God’s perfect plan.
“We don’t have to spend our time asking ourselves why this happened to us. God doesn’t want to hurt us,” she said. “He is speaking with us and we need to hear Him and trust Him. I learned that it’s good to spend these days in prayer. ISIL took our land and our money, but we still have our lives and we have to live them like God wants us to.”
She hopes to share her new-found faith with those around her. “I want to assist the people in my community to rediscover the richness of faith and I want to be there for them when they struggle,” she said. “I found a peace in my heart, peace in my life. God has made me a more patient and forgiving person. I know that God is with me and that’s the most important thing.”
- Give thanks for Athraa and her testimony of God’s faithfulness and love. Pray that she will find many opportunities to share this with her family and community.
- Pray for the many displaced Iraqi Christians, that they will find hope and healing through their faith, and be a source of life and hope to the many more hurting people around them.
- Pray for the Church in Iraq, for protection, encouragement and perseverance in their faith, to not give up but, rather, grow ever stronger as they deepen their faith and trust in the God who will never leave them.
- Pray for peace in Iraq, for freedom from ISIL rule, wisdom for the government and for the opportunity to return home for those who have been displaced.
1 John 5 vs 11: “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”