Hundreds of Iraqi Christian families had recently returned to their hometown of Teleskuf, after being displaced for years due to attacks perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, only to be forced to flee their northern Iraq community all over again.
These families have since relocated to Alqosh and other Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains where they are now seeking refuge from the internal conflict that’s presently taking place ─ this time, between two of the country’s governmental factions.
The town of Teleskuf, which is located about 30km north of Mosul, initially fell into the hands of ISIS terrorists in 2014. Yet, since its liberation last year, the town was rebuilt with the help of the international community; in particular, the Hungarian government. The collaborative rebuilding efforts made it possible for many Christian families to return to their homes.
However, now that rising tensions are taking place between the Central Government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government, there is a deepened level of sectarian strife in the rest of Iraq. Many civilians have been wounded in the conflict, resulting in the mutually shared security concerns of leaders representing various religious, political and civil society groups ─ along with numerous internally displaced persons ─ over the country’s troubling situation.
Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, The Christian Post
- Please pray earnestly for the people caught up in new conflicts. Ask the Lord to bring rest from the violence.
- May God help those from the town of Teleskuf overcome the severe trauma they have endured by strengthening their faith and ensuring their needs for safety and provision are amply met.
- Pray for Iraq’s political leaders. Ask the Lord to grant them wisdom, diplomacy and direction as they seek to govern the country.
With the recent clashes between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi Army in the Nineveh Plains of Northern Iraq, hundreds of Christians have been forced to flee the Christian town of Teleskuf, located about 24km north of Mosul.
Teleskuf fell into the hands of the Islamic State (IS, Daesh) in 2014 and was liberated in 2016. The town was rebuilt with the help of the international community enabling hundreds of Christian families to return to their homes.
“Christians and Yazidis have repeatedly asked the international community for support in creating their own nonpartisan security and local administration, but nothing has been done to facilitate this. Instead, Christians and Yazidis have now begun their fourth year living in camps while political parties with militias vie for control of the Nineveh Plains and Sinjar.” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Pray the Lord will answer the prayers of His people and bring peace to the region.
- Pray the Lord will help them overcome the severe trauma they have endured and to strengthen their faith and trust in Him.
- Pray the Lord will cause world leaders to ensure that principles of transparency, human rights and equal citizenship are upheld at all times and that religious minorities are treated fairly.
After almost three years in captivity, an Iraqi Christian girl abducted by the Islamic State in August 2014 has finally been reunited with her parents.
Christina Abada, who is about to celebrate her sixth birthday, was welcomed home last week. Locals say she was released by the Iraqi Special Forces.
“It is a very happy moment; everybody is dancing and clapping and singing,” one Christian woman told a World Watch Monitor contact from the Ashti refugee camp, near Erbil, where her parents have lived for the past two years.
“She looks OK, quite healthy. I believe she must have been in the house of a family who took good care of her. She was even wearing gold earrings, so it must have been a wealthy family,” she added.
But there was one note of caution. “Although everybody was very happy, it was also sad to see that Christina herself is in shock about all the people around her,” the woman said. “Everybody is asking questions and speaking to her, but she does not say anything back, really. She also seems to be overwhelmed by the huge crowd of people welcoming her.”
Christina was abducted in August 2014, when IS overran Iraq’s second city, Mosul, and then swept into the Christian city of Qaraqosh in the Nineveh Plains, where the Abada family lived. Prior to IS’s occupation, it was the largest Christian city in Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities had already fled the northern region. Christina’s family, however, stayed behind because the father, Khader, is blind. Other Christians too old or frail to flee also stayed, hoping for a measure of mercy from the invaders – a hope which was misplaced.
On 22 August, militants rounded up the Christians, saying they would receive medical check-ups. Several times, Ayda said, IS fighters pointed at her, with Christina in her lap.
Someone gave an order to take out any gold or valuables. The IS militants took it all. As the Christians were bundled into a bus a jihadist walked up to Ayda. He took her little girl from her arms and just walked away.
Ayda pleaded for her daughter, but the man waved Ayda away. At gunpoint, she was forced back onto the bus.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Rejoice with Christina’s family and community as they celebrate this marvelous answer to prayer.
- Pray for wisdom for Christina’s parents as they help this little girl overcome past fears and help her adjust to family life.
- Pray for the nation of Iraq, may the Lord bless the people with an outpouring of His Spirit. Commit to the Lord those who are bringing the light of the Gospel to the people.
Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian city, was liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) in October 2016, but believers who lived under the terrorists’ control for two years continue to struggle for survival.
More than 20,000 people fled the city as Iraqi and Kurdish forces fought for its liberation, with thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan and neighbouring Jordan. These people have lost everything. Their city has been destroyed, and ISIS stole everything they owned.
VOM workers recently distributed MP3 New Testaments to many families from Qaraqosh, praying with them and offering encouragement. VOM also ministers to 1,000 Christian families from Qaraqosh living in Jordan.
“It is difficult for me to describe the needs of the people we minister to,” a VOM worker said. “They are overwhelming and the suffering is indescribable. They are comforted in knowing their Western brothers and sisters know of their suffering and are praying for them.”
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Pray earnestly for these suffering Iraqi people; may the Lord be their protector and provider. May He strengthen their faith.
- Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to the VOM contacts and other organisations who are ministering to those in need.
- Ask the Lord to bring an end to the violence and provide people with the opportunity to return home and start to rebuild their lives.
There were tears, praying and singing as the cross ─ deemed illegal by ISIS – returned to the Christian villages in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain.
News continues to emerge of villages being reclaimed from ISIS, and signs of destruction become apparent.
As soon as it was remotely safe, priests were escorted back to their villages by car. In Christian villages like Karamles and Qaraqosh – half an hour’s drive east of Mosul – they were among the first non-combatants to return now the villages have been liberated from ISIS occupation.
Father Thabet, who lives with his congregation in a complex for internally displaced people in Erbil, brought a cross, the size of a man, covered with flowers, with him when he returned to his home village of Karamles.
“I am so happy I can do this. 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,” he said.
He climbed Barbara Hill, next to his village, and planted the cross firmly in the ground overlooking Karamles.
When he arrived in Karamles, Fr Thabet found his church had been heavily damaged by ISIS but was still standing. The church’s cross had been taken off and thrown to the ground. The inside of the church was a mess, but it’s not beyond repair. Fears that the Christian village would be completely uninhabitable have proven to be unfounded.
ISIS conquered the Nineveh Plain – including Iraq’s second city of Mosul and many Christian villages surrounding it – in 2014. Tens of thousands of Christian families had to run for their lives. The battle for Mosul is still being fought, but large Christian settlements surrounding Mosul, like Karamles and Qaraqosh, are already liberated. At night, however, ISIS fighters are still attempting to reclaim territories.
It is expected it will take some time before families can start returning to their villages close to Mosul. Most of them will wait for Mosul itself to be liberated and for ISIS to be driven out completely.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Praise God for the opportunity for Christians to return home. Join with them in thanking God for this blessing. Pray for the protection of civilians as ISIS becomes more desperate.
- Pray the city of Mosul and all surrounding villages will soon be liberated and made safe so that many will have an opportunity to return home and rebuild their communities.
- Pray the name of Jesus will be proclaimed all over Iraq; pray His church will grow.