How You're Rebuilding The Church In Iraq

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Image: Noeh outside the UN in New York
By Beth Westwood | 5 June 2018

In July 2017, the Iraqi government declared victory over the Islamic State in Mosul. It was the moment we’d all been waiting for. And whilst it didn’t mark the end of Islamic State’s ideology or threat, it meant many Christians were able to start returning home.

Over the last few years, your help has provided the church with the emergency relief it needed to survive. But now it’s all about strengthening what remains, which is the heartbeat of Brother Andrew’s vision for this ministry.

Your help continues to make a difference for the persecuted church as they rebuild and thrive.

Noeh Visits The UN

Karamles was under Islamic State control for over two years until it was liberated in October 2016. Noeh's home amongst many, was completely destroyed. We went with Noeh as he walked through the remains of his home, a burnt out shell of rubble and ash.

“I feel very sad about what happened,” 12-year-old Noeh said. “Still, I am very eager to return to my village."

"This is our land… I’m not afraid to live here again because the Holy Spirit makes me strong."

In early November 2017, we received photos of Noeh and his classmates back at school. He was even invited to deliver a petition to the UN signed by over 800,000 people. The petition asked world leaders to ensure the rights, future and dignity of Christians across the Middle East.

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Image: Noeh showing his destroyed home to Sarah Makin & Steve Pinkos at the White House.

Noeh travelled to the US alongside his father, and local priest Father Thabet.

Father Thabet was able to set up a Return Center in Karamles. Over 250 families have come to rebuild and basic services, like electricity, are being established for people to start restoring their homes and rebuild their lives.

No Future Without The Church

When Open Doors works on the ground in Iraq, we choose to stay out of sight to ensure the local church can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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Image: Father Thabet working on reconstruction plans for damaged and destroyed houses in Karamles.

“Iraq without a church? That will not happen,” said a church leader. “When you look at history, there has been persecution of the church throughout the centuries. The church has always come through the difficulties. We know that God is in charge and is leading.”

That is why we’re rebuilding the church in Iraq. Even though the danger is not over for Christians, persecution often paves the way for revival and many believers are wanting to stay to see a spiritual revival in this country.

Easter: New Life

For many Christian families in Qaraqosh, this past Easter was particularly special. It was the first celebration they’ve had since permanently moving back to Iraq.

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Image: Crowds of people march together in Qaraqosh over Easter.

Qaraqosh was the biggest Christian town in Iraq. In one night in 2014, 50,000 Christians were forced to flee Qaraqosh and other towns on the Nineveh Plain.

“But up to now, 25,000 have returned,” said Anis, a 58-year-old university lecturer who returned to his town of Qaraqosh last year.

“Easter is a message to humanity. A message of new life: After torture, after hardships, after tough conditions, there will be life. Our Lord is risen. This gives a great hope, and we try to be just like Him: living a new life with Jesus Christ.”

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Image: Faraj Toma Youssef returned to his house, damaged by Islamic State: "Your help came, and I was able to repair my house completely for my family. Because of that we are able to live here again."

Help Us To Stand Firm

“Please, support us spiritually,” Anis asked. “You now are aware of the fact that there are Christians here who are tormented. But we want to survive. So, please give us some morale support, so that we are able to stand firm in Iraq.”

We have been working in the Middle East for almost 30 years and, God willing, for many more. Your prayer and support helps Christians in Iraq continue to be strong in their faith. Thank you for helping to rebuild the church in Iraq.

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