Christians in Iraq trying to teach kids message of forgiveness.
“Be grateful. Be alive. Be happy. Be careful,” is the message on the whiteboard inside the Mar Elia Chaldean Catholic Church in Kurdish region for the hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes by terror group Islamic State. “It’s hard to explain what is happening,” Father Daniel Alkhory said. “I was teaching them the parable of Ishmael and Lazarus, talking to them about Heaven and Hell, so I used that to bring up ISIS. I asked them where ISIS will go and they said, ‘Directly to Hell!’ he added.
However, frightened Christian children find Christianity’s core message of forgiveness hard. These children, who have lived much of their lives in peace with Muslim neighbours, are now left homeless after their families were forced to flee when Islamic State militants ordered them to convert to Islam or be killed. With Iraq’s Christian population diminishing, the off-putting task of helping kids cling to Christian faith falls to church elders. These churches have provided refuge to hundreds of families.
“The children are very traumatized. They’ve lost their hopes and dreams and we try to help them understand that life keeps going. But a child is like a flower, we can shape them. We have to take care of them now; otherwise the next generation of ISIS could come from these children. Through all their sadness and depression, they wanted revenge. I knew I needed to build a new environment for them,” said Father Daniel Alkhory.