Flee or Die

The Persecution of Mosul Christians

We in the U.S. have watched tragedy unfold as Christians fled by car and even on foot before the Islamic State arrived in their villages.

We asked in anguish, “What can we do?”

Next week, ReachGlobal’s Middle East/North Africa division and crisis response leaders will meet with local partners to develop a long term strategy for serving the tens of thousands of displaced peoples.

Local believers opened their homes and churches to provide shelter but soon were overflowing into parking lots and sidewalks. The unthinkable then became reality: Mosul fell to the IS as the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters retreated.

Set apart for the Nazerene

We have heard of the homes and businesses of Mosul Christians marked with the Arabic letter Nuun (a derogatory reference to ‘Nazerene’), to subject them to a list of impossible choices: pay an extortionately large ransom/tax for protection (jizya), convert to Islam, flee or die.

For most, the answer was flee, with only what they could hurriedly pack in a car. For those who were slow to leave, everything they carried was confiscated. There were yet others – handicapped, elderly and their caretakers — who had no choice but to stay and face death.

One woman spoke of the fear of facing ISIS at a checkpoint as her family left Mosul. ISIS took away their extra clothes, their money and gold. She was terrified for her 17 year old daughter, afraid they might take her and hurt her, but God was merciful and they seemed to not take notice. Soon, masses had gathered with a shared story, but many with a different hope.

It wasn’t just Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, but also other minorities such as Turkmen and Yazidis, literally unreached people who have never heard the gospel of the risen Christ.

Teams have brought clean drinking water as well as tanks of water for bathing and washing. They also provided food baskets and a small amount of money for basic needs, in Jesus’ name.

The need became known to the Western church, and donations began to arrive. This enabled local Christians in Erbil to purchase mattresses, drinking water and food baskets. They then went to meet the refugees on the way to Erbil, to give them hope on their journey.

However, the needs continue to expand with the sheer volume of displaced people. People need medication, glasses, clothing and shelter from the blazing sun.

Next week, the temperatures in Erbil will hit 119 degrees. The majority of internally displaced persons, our brothers and sisters in Christ, are still without permanent shelter, food and water.

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