Church bells ring anew in freed Mosul district

By November 21, 2016

Iraq (MNN) — Iraqi forces continued a slow-but-steady advance in more of Mosul’s eastern districts last week, according to The Washington Post. Several eastern areas of Mosul have already been liberated from ISIS’ grip. But the whole city’s freedom could still take months to secure.

(Map courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

(Map courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

Emily Fuentes with Open Doors USA says some displaced families from Mosul are trying to decide if and when they should return to the secured districts.

“First, many of them lost everything, including their homes, so there’s not much to go back to. Secondly, they’re unsure of how long the liberation will last, how secure it truly is. They would hate to bring their families back home just for it to be lost again. So they’re trying to prayerfully consider what they should be doing.”

Some have already gone back to their homes in resecured Mosul neighborhoods. Fuentes explains, “A lot of the believers who stayed there the whole time are the first ones coming back. But they’re coming back from the northern region primarily of Iraq. That was for awhile the only relatively safe area.”

Open Doors reported in the last few weeks they’ve heard a sign of hope from one of Mosul’s freed districts near the Nineveh plains.

“In the past week or two, we’ve heard the first ringing of church bells, the first Christian services being held, especially pastors and priests and church leadership going back to their churches.”

VOM_refugees northern Iraq

An Iraqi woman and child stand just outside a shelter built for refugees driven from their homes by Islamic extremists. (Photo, caption courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs)

It is an encouraging sign to see the gradual breakdown of ISIS fighters’ reign over Iraqi towns and cities.

And even more encouraging are the miraculous ways God is still moving in the midst of traumatic circumstances. Fuentes shares this recent report demonstrating the power of prayer and the united Body of Christ in Iraq:

“Some girls were together in a house working on school, and they were teenagers. All of a sudden, their house was infiltrated by members of ISIS, so the girls went to hide under a bed in the bedroom.

“One of them had a phone and texted their priest and said, ‘Please pray for us. ISIS is in our house. We don’t know what’s going to happen.’ They continued texting the priest throughout, and the priest and their congregation began lifting them up in prayer, notifying the authorities of all that was going on.

“After seven hours, even though members of ISIS were in the same room with them, they never discovered them. The girls were able to escape with help after seven hours without being harmed.”

Fuentes says, “It’s a story that reminds us really of the power of prayer, how God works in amazing situations and why we should be continuing to pray for our brothers and sisters who are going back to some of these dangerous situations, because God hears our prayers and God can intervene in some amazing and unlikely situations.

Please remember the Iraqi people and believers today, and lift them up in prayer. Here are a few things you can pray for:

“I think the first is praying for wisdom. It’s a big choice. Even for those who stayed within the country, that’s thousands of miles sometimes or hundreds of miles to return home, and not being sure if your home is still there, what’s destroyed, if it’s safe. So pray for wisdom,” asks Fuentes

“Next, pray for safety, continuing miracles like this in the face of those who oppose Christianity.”

Please also pray for God’s protection over civilians who are still trapped by ISIS in the rest of Mosul, that they would be freed from physical danger and find an even deeper spiritual freedom in Christ.

Click here to learn more about Open Doors USA.

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