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IRAQ: Christian Refugees Not Complaining To God, Priests Preaching Forgiveness Amidst Trouble

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Despite severe hardships and persecution Iraqi Christians hold on to their faith in God.

Iraqi Christians hold on to God despite great plight
Iraqi Christians hold on to God despite great plight

According to media reports displaced Iraqi Christians are holding firmly to their faith and trust in God alone. An elderly Iraqi Christian woman, who fled her home after the Islamic State militants invaded last June, says she and hundreds of other refugees in Ankawa, are “not angry at God for their situation.” This elderly Christian lady Suheila, who fled Mosul after ISIS militants threatened her with conversion or death, said, “We’ve lost everything. The worst thing is that we don’t know when or whether we will be able to return to our homeland. But none of us is angry at God. Fortunately we are all still alive.”

In summer 2014, in the exhausting heat, Suheila fled to Qaraqosh accompanied by thousands of other Christians, however, these Christians had to flee again just a few months later because ISIS had invaded Qaraqosh as well. Fleeing from Qaraqosh there went on and took shelter in Ankawa, which is a suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil. These homeless Christian refugees had no where to go who aften times spent nights on the pavement and under bushes.

However, with the passage of time, Suheila is grateful to God who has sustained her and now she lives in a sports club in Ankawa. “This is a really big improvement. I am grateful for it. But in general, of course, this is no life.”

Father Daniel Alkhari, a young Iraqi priest who toils all day long in a refugee camp in Ankawa which houses more than 800 Christians refugees said that the local church is doing all it can to help those displaced. “When the people arrived here they were totally traumatized.It wasn’t easy for the people to cope with the fact that they suddenly had nothing and had to live in tents. The children in particular were suffering under the situation. They saw their mothers crying and their fathers yelling. Then we began to structure the everyday routine to give the children something different to think about. A child is like a flower, we can shape them,” Father Alkhari said. “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,” he said, “I just keep telling the kids you have to forgive. Forgiveness will lead us to so many paths.”