Church Bells Ring and Crosses Rise Over Freed Towns

Open Doors Weekly Email

Church bells ring and crosses rise over freed towns

For the first time in over two years, church bells are ringing and crosses are being erected in towns across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain liberated from so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.

In the town of Bartella, returning church leaders found hymn books scattered, pews upturned and graffiti scrawled on the walls. But in an act of defiance and hope, church leaders this week sounded the church bells – announcing the end of the town’s invasion and occupation by IS.

Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town, has also been liberated, answering the prayers of many of its displaced inhabitants. In a series of moving pictures, church leader Ammar returns to Qaraqosh and erects a cross atop his church. “Thanks to God… It was a wonderful day to see Qaraqosh,” Ammar says. “Yes, they destroyed and burned houses and churches but of course we will fix it again.”

Church leaders are beginning to return to the village of Karamles too. Thabet takes with him a large cross which he plants in the ground on a hill overlooking the village. “I am so happy I can do this,” he says. “I’m smiling from cheek-to-cheek and I weep tears of joy at the same time. This is the trip I have been praying for for two years now.”

“My dream is to bring back all the Christians to this village,” he adds. “Then we will worship outside on Barbara Hill; we will take communion in the open air. Everybody will see that this is the church; this is the body of Christ; this is Christian land. That is my dream – to give a testimony to the world.”

Please Pray:

  • Praise God for the liberation of towns across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain from IS!
  • For the liberation of Mosul and other towns in the region. Ask God to protect civilians living in warzones and those being held captive by IS
  • For Open Doors workers in the region as they continue to support thousands of believers in the changing situation.
section

Future remains uncertain

Before the IS invasion in 2014, this region was home to the largest concentration of Christians and religious minorities left in Iraq. Thousands of displaced families are being cared for by Open Doors’ partners in Kurdistan and our commitment is to support them for as they long as they need us. Open Doors has worked in the region for over 20 years. Thanks to an incredible response to appeals in 2014 and since, our partners are currently supporting 15,000 displaced families with emergency relief, trauma care and long-term rebuilding.

As the battle for Mosul intensifies, the UN and other aid agencies are predicting a humanitarian crisis, with up to one million people expected to flee Mosul itself when the fighting reaches the city. Open Doors partners are monitoring the situation and are planning how they will support displaced people to return to Mosul and the surrounding villages once it is safe for them to do so.

Because the truth is, that even with IS gone, they will be returning to devastated and destroyed communities. With your help we will be with these communities for the long-term. Their churches will need rebuilding, their homes will need to be restored. They have lost their possessions. But they want to return home.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray, give and speak out for Christians in Iraq.

Bring hope to the Middle East

section

With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

Please support Open Doors in every way you possibly can. There are so many people still being persecuted for their Christian beliefs in too man countries throughout the world.

With many peaceful and hope-filled blessings

Geoffrey

Advertisements

The Battle for Mosul Begins

Open Doors
Open Doors Weekly Email

The battle for Mosul begins

Christians in Iraq are asking for prayer as the battle for Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, intensifies. A local Open Doors contact told us: “A coalition of Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by international allied forces, aims to recapture the city – the last major stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, and with it all of the Nineveh plain in Iraq.

“The thousands of displaced Christians in Erbil are very excited… Most Christians in Erbil are now glued to their televisions, phones and computer screens, trying to get all the latest updates on the battle and on the status of their villages. They hope and they pray that they will be able to return to their houses, once the situation is safe.”

Open Doors partners are supporting 15,000 displaced families in Iraq every month with vital relief aid and long-term support, thanks to the prayerful generosity of our supporters. When asked how the battle for Mosul might affect their work, an Open Doors coordinator told us: “For now, the battle will not impact our work directly. In Erbil things have not changed because of the situation: Christians are still displaced and are still uncertain about their future.

“It is expected that most Christians will wait for the entire Nineveh Plain to be completely safe and ‘ISIS-free’, before thinking about going back. Nobody knows how long it will take, but it now seems more likely to be a matter of months than of weeks.”

Open Doors partners are monitoring the situation and are planning how they will support displaced people to return to Mosul once it is safe for them to do so.

You can pray, give and speak out for Christians in Iraq and Syria by joining the global Hope for the Middle East campaign.

Please Pray:

  • That Mosul would be liberated soon and that trapped civilians there would be protected
  • For God to shield and protect Christians living near or on the front lines of battle
  • For energy and resilience for Open Doors partners as they continue to support displaced Iraqis.
section

Over 20 Chibok girls return home: thank you for your prayers!

Thank you for praying for the Chibok schoolgirls who were taken captive by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria in 2014. We are delighted to report that, two-and-a-half years later, 21 of the over 200 abducted schoolgirls have been reunited with their families after successful negotiations.

There were emotional scenes in the capital, Abuja, when the girls were reunited with their families. One parent said: “We thank God. I never thought I was going to see my daughter again but here she is… Those who are still out there – may God bring them back to be reunited with their parents.”

Open Doors partners have been making regular visits to the Chibok parents to encourage them and provide them with food, medicine and trauma care. “We thank all our supporters for the continued prayers for this situation over the past two and a half years,” said Open Doors’ team leader in Nigeria. “Our eyes are still on God for the release of the rest of them.”

Please pray:

  • Thank the Lord for the return of these girls and pray that they would be fully cared for
  • That God’s power and grace would be at work among the girls who remain in captivity and their captors
  • That the rest of the girls would be freed soon and that the Lord would comfort their families.
section

With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Maria’s Three Things To Remember

Sister Hayat was forced to flee her monastery near Mosul to escape the self-proclaimed Islamic State last year. Once she and the other nuns were safe, their abbess Sister Maria called them together for a meeting, and gave them three things to keep in mind during the crisis:

  • Don’t look back on what has happened.
  • Ask yourself what God is telling you today.
  • Go out into the world and work with people.

This had a real impact on Hayat’s life, and she asked God for guidance. “As clear as a bell, He spoke to me,” she recalls. “He was calling me to work with children and youth.”

Thanks to your support, Hayat is running programmes for the youth and caring for the sick, as well as leading a powerful prayer movement among refugees in Erbil. She asks for our continued prayers for Iraq: “We feel the power of your prayers. They are helping a lot. Please keep praying. Your prayers are the daily bread we live on.”

PLEASE PRAY:

  • For strength and energy for people like Hayat who are working to support refugees
  • For provision for the thousands of families who remain trapped in refugee camps
  • For comfort and peace for refugees who are confused, in shock, and who feel unsafe
  • For wisdom for leaders of Iraq and other nations as they work to the end the crisis

With many prayerful blessings

Geoffrey