Christians in Iraq are on the verge of extinction. Large numbers have fled abroad or to the (until recently) safer Kurdish region, where they face unemployment and inadequate schooling, medical care and housing. The church faces many challenges – members being killed or abducted, and a lack of capable leaders. In central and southern Iraq, traditional Christians suffer as much as Muslim-background believers, as a result of their visibility. In May 2012, 20 Christian families in Mosul received threats, and the house of another Christian was set on fire.
- For the many Christians displaced from their homes by threats of murder or abduction
- Ask God to raise up godly, wise leaders to shepherd the church
- For Open Doors trauma counsellors working with children and families affected by persecution.
Sargon’s Story: Sargon* and his wife Leja* once lived in Baghdad, where Sargon worked as a mechanic. Now, they live in northern Iraq in a small, sparsely furnished apartment.While still in Baghdad, the fallout from a bomb claimed three of the lives of Sargon’s fellow mechanics. To this day, though he survived, Sargon carries shrapnel in his shoulder that cannot be removed and continues to cause him pain.
The effects of that day have also resulted in emotional shrapnel in Sargon’s heart, aggravated by increased terrorist attacks in the couple’s neighborhood in Baghdad.
One day Leja found a letter in their mailbox, “You had better get away quickly, or you may die.”
As other Christian in Baghdad had to do, the traumatized couple had to take the letter very seriously. They gathered as much of their possessions together as possible and took off that same night in their old car, heading for northern Iraq.
Sargon found work at a small local garage in their new city. He earned little; hardly enough to pay their rent. So after a while he and his wife began making serious plans to return to Baghdad, despite the dangers.
When Open Doors learned of their situation we provided the couple with a micro loan, which enabled Sargon to start up his own garage.
Although the small micro-loan helped Sargon and Leja make a new start, they still wrestle with serious issues: Tenants moved into their Baghdad home, with the help of the government, and the couple will not be able to get it back without costly legal assistance.
There is no “happy ending” to Sargon and Leja’s story yet, and unfortunately their story is also the story of many Christian refugees in northern Iraq.
*Sargon & Leja – not their real names.