Iraq (MNN) — August marks a dark anniversary. Six years ago, ISIS captured the Nineveh plains in Iraq, including the city of Mosul. They captured and killed Yazidi and Christian men and women with savage zealotry. Thousands lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. Many still haven’t returned home.
The official position of most governments involved is that ISIS has since been defeated. However, Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA says it’s not that simple.
“There are still active members of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and in other parts of the world,” he says. “ISIS still has a radical Sunni theology wanting to bring about attacks wanting to bring about more violence.. absolutely, they are still a factor.”
One of many wounds left by ISIS’ terror campaign is the absence of Christians in the region. Even before ISIS slaughtered their way across the Nineveh Plains, many Christians left the region because “they did not see a future there,” Nettleton says. Any that remained were forced out by ISIS.
Any Christians who did live in Iraq don’t want to return.
The problem is, a Church presence could be exactly what the crippled Iraqi people need. In a conversation with an Iraqi pastor, Nettleton learned what local believers were asking for. The answer?
“We need a Christian presence here, we still need Christians to stay here and share the gospel and be a lighthouse in the society and in this culture, I pray that God will call Christians to stay.”
To this day, what believers do remain in Iraq are still asking for the Church to come alongside them. Nettleton asks that you pray “that God will call Christians to stay there and to minister for the Gospel in that part of the world. Even though it’s difficult, even though it’s not safe, even though [so much of] the infrastructure was destroyed in the battles with ISIS, there is still a need for Christians to be there.”
Pray for God’s hope to permeate the region through courageous believers who might return home. Pray for believers rebuilding their homes, livelihoods, and worlds. Pray that God will sustain locals hoping to return home to Iraq. Pray that Christians all over the world listen and make their own voices heard.
And pray that Iraq will never face a threat like ISIS ever again.
Header photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons