The photo below shows a wall in Bashiqa, a village in the Nineveh Plain that was invaded by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). The writing in Arabic says, “Tomorrow will be more beautiful.”
Despite the uncertainties caused by the recent referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, families are returning to their homes in liberated Bashiqa, thanks to your support and prayers – they’re beginning to make this beautiful future a reality.
“The first 52 houses have been restored with your support,” says Father Poulos, pictured below, one of the church leaders in Bashiqa. “We will now start with another 30 houses.”
He recently showed one of our local contacts some of the improvements in the village. The first house he showed them was freshly painted in blue. “We did the outside with our own money,” says the owner of the house.
Then he showed them what was done with the money they received from Open Doors partners, through the church committee. There are ten new doors; all the doors had been destroyed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) fighters. Windows and some parts of the electrical system of the house have also been replaced, thanks to your support and prayers.
Families in Bashiqa are supported through a Centre for Encouragement, attached to the church. The centre provides a space for returning families to sleep overnight while they are in the process of restoring their homes. It also serves as a place where the committee for rebuilding the houses has its meetings, and there is also a room where the priests receive the members of their church for counselling.
Father Poulos took our contact to meet a family who had used the Centre of Encouragement while they carried out their repairs, pictured above. The wrecked car you can see in front of their house was left there by IS fighters.
The father of the family said, “This was a new house when IS came; we only lived here six months when we had to flee to Dohuk. I worked for four months to get the house ready again. We were the first family to return here. During the time I worked on the house, I slept the nights in the centre of the church. Many families stay there while they work during daytime.”
Two of his neighbours have also returned. “One is a Muslim family, the other a Yazidi. Before the war we lived in peace together; it’s a quiet place.”
Three months ago, this man and his wife, their two daughters and their son moved back to the house. In the corner of the living room against the wall stands a Kalashnikov. “When there was no one else in this area, I wanted to be able to protect myself,” he says.
There has been a church in Iraq for 2,000 years, but today it’s on the verge of extinction. Iraq was once home to one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East; today, the church in Iraq is in danger of disappearing completely. The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) forced thousands of Christians to flee their homes and although IS have been back from many areas and some Christians are returning home, many villages and towns need extensive rebuilding. Even in areas of Iraq that aren’t controlled by IS, Sharia is the basis of the law, and Muslims are forbidden from leaving Islam.
Pray. Pray for the the families who have returned to Bashiqa, and those who are planning to return soon, for strength and provision. Pray for energy and wisdom for Open Doors partners working to support believers in Iraq. Ask God to continue to use His church in Iraq as a light in the darkness. Get free prayer resources here…
Give. Every £15 could go towards rebuilding a home or setting up a family in employment in Iraq. Give here…
Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, calling for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. Ask others to sign it too. Sign now…
Join the Blackout. Spend a weekend offline. Give up your digital voice to stand with the voiceless. Raise money and prayer to amplify their silence. Find out more…
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