Iraq: Seven lessons from persecuted Christians in Iraq

Iraq: Seven lessons from persecuted Christians in Iraq

Almost two years ago, militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS) attacked Mosul and the surrounding area, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes. They have not been able to return since.

The events caused a shock among Iraqi Christians. But in their darkest hour, they also felt God’s presence and guidance. Here are seven things they learned from the Lord in the crisis.

Iraq: Seven lessons from persecuted Christians in Iraq

“I was a successful businessman involved in calf breeding in Qaraqosh. I had three houses and over 600 acres of land. I come from a tradition which teaches that if you do not have land, you have nothing. But due to IS attack on our city, I lost everything I had in one day.

“When I became displaced I started to reflect on what I had been doing in the past. Now I believe that IS was a lesson from God to teach me not to collect a fortune here, but to make a fortune with God. And I believe that if you do so He will always help you.”

“Know your identity in Christ”- Farouk Hammo, pastor in Baghdad

“The recent crisis with the so-called Islamic State was a wake-up call. It urged our congregation to think about our identity as Christians. For us as a church, the influx of internally displaced people has given us the opportunity to ‘practise Christianity’ as I call it, to help all who are in need; it doesn’t matter if they are a Christians or not. God asked us to be gracious to all.

“Millions have lost everything, but some have found Christ. This is also important to know for the Christians around the world. If your Christian identity is strong and you know who you are in Christ, you can resist the bad influences from outside.”

“A crisis doesn’t mean the end of the church” – Thabet, displaced church leader in Erbil

“Not even the worst circumstances can make me doubt the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I lost my village, my church, and now I am losing many church members who are emigrating abroad. But I see things with the light of God.

“When Jesus died, everyone thought it was the end of the church. But three days later Jesus rose from the dead, and now we know that his death was just the beginning of the church. When Stephen was stoned it seemed to be the end of the church, but instead it spread Christianity. I believe this crisis might mark a new beginning for the church of Iraq as well. We need to learn to trust the Lord in this situation; trust in His goodness.”

“Jesus is the foundation of the church” – Raeed, displaced church leader in Kaznazan

“Jesus is the core of the church. The future of the church doesn’t depend on certain people, it does not depend on you or me. We just need to have the faith that the church will always be here in our country because Jesus will be here. The church was built on this rock. This rock will always be with us. Even if we would leave Iraq, the rock would stay here. And he will also go with us.”

“Spending time with God will change your life” – Athraa, displaced student in Kaznazan

“After we were displaced, I had nothing to do. For this reason I went to church more often. After a while I joined a Bible study group and started helping in church. By spending so much time with God, I became very close to Him. I now feel a peace in my heart, a peace in my life, I didn’t know before. I know that God is with me. It changed my life.

“Before the displacement I was an angry person, I always wanted to have it my way. But now I have learned to be more patient and to forgive the people who hurt me.”

“Fellowship with other Christians will help you serve Jesus” – Martin, displaced youth leader in Iraq

“I teach my youth group to apply Jesus’ words together. We gather for prayer each week, but also encourage each other in everyday life. We are friends to each other and to the people of our displaced village, especially the children and the elderly. By following the Lord together, many of us now feel the power to go back to our village and rebuild it again once it’s liberated.”

“Find refreshment with the Lord” – Hanan, displaced believer in Erbil

“We were taught three things to keep in mind during this crisis:

“1) Don’t look back on what has happened

“2) Ask yourself what God is telling you today, and

“3) Go out into the world and work with people.

“Everything comes from God. When I go home after a long day of work, I feel He gives me new ideas in the night to work with children, youth, and older people. These thoughts cannot possibly come from me, they must be from God.”

Please pray:

  • Thank God for the faith of these Christians in Iraq and the work He is doing in each of their lives. Ask Him to continue to use these believers, protect them and provide for them
  • For displaced Iraqi Christians, whether they are in Iraq or elsewhere, that the joy of the Lord would be their strength and that their daily needs would be met
  • For a resolution to the conflict in Iraq and for a lasting peace in the region.

More News from Iraq:

Find out more about persecution in Iraq.

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