[CORRECTION: It has been pointed out to us that the image attached to the story of the 8 beheaded in Mosul, Iraq was old and actually from Syria. The Iraqi pastor who sent us the information has said that the confusion stemmed from a similarly named neighborhood in Raqqa City, Syria. We apologize and ask your forgiveness for sending out faulty information. We will triple-check (because we actually did double check) and more any such stories we receive from our contacts before sending them out to you.]
We share with you an eyewitness report of the persecution of Christians in Iraq. It is important that the word gets out because we must pray for our persecuted brethren and because we must continue to pray — with all earnestness — “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.”
A pastor in northern Iraq reports on the conditions of the Christians who have fled into the Kurdish-controlled Arbil Province.
He says that renting a house if very difficult in his city. “Four families are living with us now in the same apartment of the church. The place is really very narrow and not enough even to one family.”
The Islamic State gave Christians in Mosul and the surrounding areas until noon July 19 to decide whether to convert to Islam, leave, pay the minority tax or die. One of the families staying with the pastor reported that as the deadline approached, they saw some Christian families decide to convert.
The rest rejected the jizya (religious tax) and preferred to leave the city. On the border of Nineveh and Erbil provinces, the Islamic State checkpoint stopped them. They were told to hand over all their jewels, silver, money and extra clothes. The females were told to take off their bras and shorts because they are not allowed in Islam.
One of the girls was taken away while she fled with her family into Erbil, the pastor said. Only after four days of continual sexual harassment and $150,000 ransom was she released. Last week, another Christian village which is already under the protection of the Peshmarga (Kurdish militia) were told to leave the village within 48 hours or it would be bombed.
The pastor says, “We need you to pray for us to be able to help them more in this difficult circumstances. Please keep praying and let your eyes keep open.”
Call to action
We encourage you to not only pray but to also alert your political representatives to the plight of Christians in Iraq. Demand that your elected officials speak out on behalf of this brutalized community as well as on behalf of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, the only safe place in the immediate area for Christians to live and worship at this time.
If you would like to help the refugees and those ministering to them, you may give through Christ Church Jerusalem. Please write “Iraqi refugees” in the memo line.