’I am constantly worried about my family back in Kurdish (Iraq)’; an Iraqi Christian shared her story.
Iraq is a Muslim majority country with 2 million of Christian population in 2003. However, with the current war in Iraq, this number has reduced to just 180,000 today. Agonized with the memories of her past life and anxious about the future of Iraq, Rachael struggled to find words to describe the pain she carries.
At the age of 20, Rachael had a painful experience during her university when she was forced to wear hijab in the month of Ramadan. It was even humiliating to see the university staff and fellow Muslim friends to mock us Christians who followed the mandatory practice that time.
‘I did so for my dad, who was always concerned about our safety’.
‘My dad was like a pillar for the family’, she spoke warmly. In 2005, it was a hard time for Rachael who lost her dad that year. After him things changed not just in the family but also around them; Rachael witnessed the beginning of Christian persecution in Mosul city since 2005. Things got worse with the abductions and killing of Christian men in Iraq. Her brother was followed few times on his way to work and back. ‘We just couldn’t imagine losing him too – we decided to leave Mosul!’
Mosul had the highest proportion of Christians in Iraq at then. With the on-going war, as many as 100,000 Christians have fled the city overnight. The ISIS forces took over Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq, in 2014. Including Rachael’s family, many Christians then fled to the north Kurdish region.
‘Our lives are not the same, it was maybe better life in Kurdish region but I still feel empty’.
Dolefully Rachael continued, ‘Mosul city had my dad’s memories, my friends, my childhood; all snatched from me’.
Many people have fled empty-handed; fleeing for their lives. At least half of the million Christians of Iraq have left to neighbouring countries, mainly to Syria and Jordan while others fled to relatively safe areas within Iraq.
The Christians of Iraq are considered to be one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world. And Aid to the Church in Need shares concern that in the next five years Christians might become extinct in Iraq altogether.
Today Rachael is constantly worried about her family back home; she only treasures her family and plans her reunion with them after her studies.
‘I can expect anything from the government and the people of Iraq, they have all betrayed us. We can’t trust them’.
‘They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God’. (John 16:2)
Being a Christian she holds on to prayer as the only hope, ‘we are not like them, we must pray for the ISIS’. Let’s join these prayers for those who persecute us. Let's be committed in prayers for Christ’s presence in Iraq in years to come.
I am the Holy Name representative for Aid to the Church in Need.