One year ago, on 10th June 2014, the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to militants belonging to ISIL. Thousands of Christians and other religious minorities were threatened with execution and fled the city. Fared is a young Christian man, originally from Mosul, and this is his story:
“Last Friday I thought of Mosul, because then it was June 5, the day the curfews started one year ago … For five days there was heavy fighting on the other side of the river Tigris. I lived on the Left-bank. On our side it was relatively calm, but of course we were afraid.
ISIS had crippled four of the five bridges crossing the Tigris, to thwart any advance of Iraqi reinforcements. It wasn’t necessary.
“The Iraqi army withdrew,” Fared said, looking as astonished today as he said he was a year ago. “The rumours spread very quickly through phone and social media. Many Muslims in my neighbourhood stayed, but … Christians wanted to leave the city. Despite the curfew, we packed our car with the most valuable things like papers, some photos and clothing for two months and then left.”
Their destination was Erbil, the rapidly modernizing capital of the oil-rich, and well defended, Kurdistan region of Iraq that lay beyond the reach of ISIS.
“The way to Erbil normally takes about one hour, but now it took us 12,” he said. “There were four checkpoints … For eight hours we waited in lines of about 5 kilometres long. The two-way road had become one way direction and the cars were about 10 or 12 lines wide, six lines on the roads and another six lines on the sides of the road.
“Later, I had contact with my former neighbour. He told me that in 50 minutes after we left, the neighbourhood was taken over by Da’ash,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
One year on from this, Fared said his church is planning a prayer meeting. “Not a meeting to despair or to be depressed, but a meeting to also see the goodness that God brought to our lives and to also count our blessings.”
“I’m part of a small church and they took care of us very well. I now live in a small apartment in Erbil and I’m happy with that,” he said. “I think I will never return to Mosul ever again … There are good opportunities for me and my wife in Erbil, so we are rebuilding our lives here now.”
- Pray for Mosul, one year after it fell to ISIL. Pray for those now living in extreme hardship and oppression under ISIL rule, that they will find hope and life in Jesus.
- Pray for Iraq, for freedom from ISIL rule and terror, and for Iraqi Christians to be able to live and worship without fear.
- Give thanks for Christians such as Fared, whose testimony of God’s faithfulness shines in the darkness.
- Pray that God will move sovereignly in this region and many will come to know the truth and freedom of the Gospel.
Isaiah 9 vs 2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.”