Kidnapped by ISIS: Discovering Jesus in Syria

View All Blogs
By Beth Ross | 7 June 2017

This article first featured in Frontline Faith Magazine - Discovering Jesus, click here to read.

"I had denied Jesus and was even ready to convert to Islam. But God didn't leave me or let me down, He stayed with me till the end to show me His existence."

Kidnapped by the Islamic State. It’s a worst case scenario in the minds of people living in Syria – and now it was Meghrik’s* reality. But in his darkest hour, God revealed Himself.

The bus was full of travellers on their way from Aleppo, Syria to the smaller city Al-Qamishli in the far north-east; a 430km journey. They approached another checkpoint along the road. This one was controlled by the Islamic State, their black flag flapped in the wind. One of the fighters dressed in black raised his hand, and the bus came to a stop.

Three Islamic State members entered the bus to check the passengers. Meghrik sat further back and saw how one-by-one the other passengers were forced to show their ID. Sweat dripped down his back and dampened his head. Meghrik took a deep breath. The fighter next to him stopped and reached for Meghrik’s ID-card.

“Are you a Christian?” the man asked him.

“No.”

Meghrik came from a family of believers. His parents even gave him a Christian name, but he didn’t believe in God anymore; he thought Christianity was ridiculous.

“You’re lying. Your name says you’re a Christian. Come with me.”

He was almost paralysed by fear. He rose from his chair and took his small bag with him. The other passengers stared at him. He saw horror and fear on their faces, but no one spoke. When he left the bus, the Islamic State soldier showed Meghrik’s ID to the commander of the check point.

“An infidel,” he said, “you cannot continue with this bus.” Meghrik wanted to say something, but the commander ordered him to shut his mouth.

Before The Judge

Evening came and he found himself sitting face-to face with an Islamic State judge in a house being used as a ‘court-room’ in Raqqa, the capital city of the self-proclaimed state. The judge looked again at Meghrik’s ID and concluded from his name that he was a Christian.

“You’re sentenced to death,” the judge declared. Meghrik heard the words, but couldn’t believe them to be true.

“But I am not a Christian, I don’t believe what my parents taught me,” he tried to say, almost in a whisper.

“This is the verdict,” the judge answered. Meghrik was thrown back into a room that served as his prison cell.

Several hours later, men in black clothes came to bring him to the place he would be executed. They tied his arms, covered his eyes and pushed him into a car. After a ride through the city, they arrived at an open area where they dug graves for those sentenced to death. Meghrik looked into the hole, and a few seconds later he was pushed in. With his arms tied he couldn’t even break the fall. He heard the sound of loading weapons.

All of a sudden he remembered a conversation he had with a friend only a month ago about the existence of God.

“Before the kidnap I was almost an atheist, even though I had been raised a Christian. I couldn’t accept the existence of God. About a month before I was kidnapped, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about Jesus. I laughed about the idea of Jesus coming to Earth to die for our sins and to forgive us. He challenged me to pray and ask God to show that He exists. I did. After that, I more or less forgot about it. Until the moment they threw me into that hole.”

A Moment of Hope

Meghrik cried out again, in his darkest hour. Seconds passed and there was no shot. “You can live and be free when you convert to Islam,” one man suddenly shouted to Meghrik. “I will convert,” Meghrik cried, seeing this as his way out. The men took him out of his grave and back to his cell.

“Converting is of no use,” a man sharing his cell said.

“They kill you anyway.”

The next day Meghrik was brought to an interrogation room. They tortured him with a cable and he counted somewhere between 20 and 30 lashes that day. It went on for three days.

"When they kept torturing me, I prayed again. 'God, you saved me the first time, so why do you let them torture me again? Please, Lord, get me out of here so that I can search for you and learn about you.'" Meghrik said.

On the fourth day the men accused him of insulting the prophet. “Tomorrow we will kill you. You go with a bomb car or we will slaughter you in another way.”

Freedom and Redemption

But God had other plans for Meghrik. That same day, one of the Islamic State leaders came to the prison and took him away. Meghrik stood before a second Islamic State judge. “You will be freed within some days,” he said and on the tenth day of his kidnapping, Meghrik walked out of prison with a document that gave him the right to pass the Islamic State checkpoint and return home.

“It was an indescribable moment when I finally left that place, a moment of happiness and a fulfilment of God’s promises. He heard my prayers during my days in custody.”

"When we were still sinners, Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

Once he returned home, he fell into the arms of his parents, changed, because he now knew that the living God existed and heard his prayers.

Syria 2016 bloga

Image: Meghrik reading the Bible

“I had a Bible verse in mind that day: ‘When we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ [Romans 5:8] “I remembered how I had defended to my friends that God didn’t exist, that I had denied Jesus and was even ready to convert to Islam. But God didn’t leave me or let me down, He stayed with me till the end to show me His existence.”

*Name changed for security reasons

This article first featured in Frontline Faith Magazine - Discovering Jesus, click here to read.

Sign Up To Frontline Faith

Get regular stories and news from the persecuted church. Sign up for our Frontline Faith Magazine and Prayer Guide.

Sign Up