Remember #wearen? The hashtag started trending around a year ago amid reports that Christian homes and businesses in Mosul, Iraq were being marked with the Arabic letter N. It was a shorthand for the word Nazarene or Christian. The symbol was used by IS soldiers to identify and target Christian families.
As a response, we produced some t-shrts with that symbol on. T-shirts you can still buy and wear to stand with targeted Iraqi Christians.
So, you know the story. But do you know the story behind the image of the town on our #wearen t-shirts? Well, read on….
The town is called Alqosh. It’s a Christian majority town in Northern Iraq. You can see where it is on this map:
Alqosh is now the only Christian town in the Nineveh Plain not taken by IS. Last summer many of the residents left as Mosul (just 50km away) fell to IS forces, but in September, thanks to increased safety, around 75% of the population returned.
Father Gabriel is from Alqosh. He regularly visits and supports both Christian and Yazidi internally displaced people in the region (IDPs). He knows all about the difficulties they are facing. He shared: “If a specific animal was fac-ing extinction, they would do all that is needed to save it. Let them consider us (Christians) as one species that [as a minority] is about to be demolished here in Iraq. Let them save us. We really need help.”
Most cities like Mosul are now virtually empty of Christians, with no churches open any-more. Over 75% of the church have left Iraq since the early 1990’s, with less than 300,000 remaining.
Amazingly, despite Islamic State being so close, Alqosh still has Christians who have remained. Some even claim that Alqosh is the town that the Old Testamant prophet Nahum was from. And his words of comfort remain true to the residents of Alqosh today:
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,”
Across Iraq and Syria there many places where the stories of the Bible were formed are now under threat. These are places that have had a Christian presence since the earliest days of the Church. And in places like Alqosh, Christians are refusing to leave their homes and their heritage.
We will strengthen what remains and not let the church fade away.
Want to get your own version of our #wearen shirt and stand with the community in Alqosh? You can grab one here for just £15. All money raised from t-shirt sales will go to our emergency fund for Iraq and Syria. We now have all sizes in stock, from small to XXL in both guys and girls fits!
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.