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Forced to flee

By Luke Stewart / June 25, 2014

What did you get up to when you woke up this morning? My day started with me padding downstairs, whacking on the radio, and making myself a (very) generous bowl of cereal. The sun was beaming down into the kitchen and it was hard not to feel content. I was warm, comfortable, and safe in the comfort of my own home.

But for thousands of people in Iraq, this morning was not so comfortable. Whilst I munched away at my cereal, panic reigned in the streets of Mosul. Since last Friday the second largest city in the country has been subjected to a militant Islamic takeover. Up to half a million people have been forced to flee the country to protect themselves and their families from ISIS, the extremist group behind the invasion. That’s half a million people uprooted from their homes who are now facing massive uncertainty about their future. All that’s familiar to them has changed dramatically in the blink of an eye.

The extremist group claim that they have made this takeover in order to “liberate” the city. But for the thousands of people uprooted from their homes, the invasion is not providing any sort of liberation. The World Watch Monitor website estimates that up to 1000 Christian families are among those fleeing the city in fear of violence. This sort of crisis has a massive impact on the church in Iraq, who have been scattered throughout different shelters neighbouring the city. With so many Christians leaving the country, the task of witnessing to others about the love of Jesus and standing out as a light in the darkness becomes infinitely harder. As one source has said, “When this goes on like this, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians.”

So what can be done to help? British and US forces left Iraq in 2011 with the hope they had restored some order in a hugely divided country. As we can see, the peace hasn’t lasted, but Western countries will now be reluctant to get involved again, especially as there has been only a minimal response to the neighbouring crisis in Syria.

The situation seems desperate and out of control, but hope remains for the church in Iraq.

Several Monasteries a short distance from Mosul have opened their doors to shelter fleeing civilians, many of whom are Christians. Schools in mainly Christian villages have also provided shelter and protection for those in need, giving vital hospitality and stability. The church is standing strong to defend not only its family, but all who are homeless and in desperate need. Where Christians remain together, strength can be found. We’re part of this family, the body of Christ, and it’s our family duty to respond in solidarity and prayer.

The world we live in is a totally different place to the chaos we witness in the news, and more often than not I’ve found it really difficult to connect with something that seems so alien to everything I know in my world of comfort. But it’s vital that we don’t grow lukewarm to the harsh realities many people around the world are facing. We need to remember that for millions across the world living as a Christian is a daily struggle, filled with uncertainty about the future. Just look at how quickly things have changed for Christians in Iraq. Let’s plead the case of the people of Mosul with our Heavenly Father.

Where is Iraq?

What to pray for…

  • Pray for all who have been forced to flee the city, that they would find temporary shelter and safety
  • Pray for the Christian families amongst those left homeless, that they would continue to trust in Jesus despite their desperate circumstances
  • Pray for a swift response from the UN refugee agency, that they might be quick to provide help and assistance to the fleeing refugees
  • Pray for stability and peace in Iraq, a country divided by power and religion

Do something

If you can, you can give to our current Open Doors campaign for Christians living in failed states like Iraq and Syria.
Find out more here…

More on Iraq…

Read this post about the 4th country on the World Watch List…

The Author
Luke is a student in Southampton who helps us out every now and again. When he’s not enjoying YouTube videos of people falling over, he can usually be found playing and watching sport or cooking (and eating) something new and experimental.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.