Iraq (MNN/SAT7) — This month marks the one-year anniversary of ISIS taking over Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq.
“All the people have fled, they’ve left their homes, and many people are lying dead on the streets. Will Iraq accept this?” A refugee said to The Guardian that day a year ago. “The situation is very difficult, mortar shells are landing on houses. We left relatives behind. Many people were killed.”
Another refugee told The Guardian, “The army dissolved out of fear. They fled, and we left and came here.”
As many as 500,000 people were forced from Mosul, including thousands of Christians, who were given three options from ISIS: convert, leave everything behind, or be killed.
Fleeing Christians found refuge in Kurdish-controlled areas and neighboring countries, where they’ve been living in difficult conditions for the last year.
Most have resorted to temporary settlements or refugee camps that are filthy and cramped. The few that didn’t leave the country are considering leaving. And some have been abducted by ISIS.
Churches, monasteries, and ancient holy places in the Mosul area have been confiscated and used for other purposes by ISIS. There has been widespread desecration and looting of furniture and paintings, and demolition of church crosses and gravestones. Precious ancient manuscripts have been burned.
Yet, despite it all, Christian refugees are in good spirits.
SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, says church leaders are trying to do what they can to improve the situation, encouraging Christians to stay and urging Iraqi politicians to seek a solution that will safeguard the Christian presence in the country.
TV host Mr. Know and a SAT-7 team visited the refugee camp in Irbil; they were greeted by smiling faces–innocent children with no hate in their hearts. Faith in Jesus is sustaining them. Despite the harsh conditions of the camps, lack of school, and separation from friends, they found reason to rejoice and sing. They were happy because God guided them away from harm to this temporary refuge. They saw the refugee camp as a blessing and a gift.
After the interviews, the children thanked Mr. Know. When he asked why, they smiled and responded, “You felt for me.” Thanks to help from people like you, SAT-7 was able to pray with these refugees. They needed to know they were not forgotten.
Now it’s your turn to encourage these refugees. Pray that Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes will be able to witness God’s love right where they are, and also that the Christians abducted by ISIS will be released.
You can also help give encouragement by giving to SAT-7. $10 supports 10 viewers for 1 year.