Welcome to Qaraqosh
Qaraqosh lies in northern Iraq—near the country’s borders with Turkey and Syria. Before 2014, Qaraqosh was a bustling city of more than 50,000 people—and was home to the largest population of Christians in the entire country.
Then, ISIS came to Iraq. Their invasion forced nearly all of the city’s Christians to flee for their lives. When ISIS was finally pushed out of Qaraqosh in 2016, Christians cautiously began returning. They found a city of rubble and ashes. Not to be deterred, these believers began to rebuild.
Help The Persecuted already had a significant presence in Iraq, but given the circumstances, we sought new ways to serve the persecuted and Qaraqosh became a focus of our efforts in Iraq. One of the first activities was to conduct an extensive survey of the needs in the city. The survey results showed that people require basic things like food, education, job training, counseling, and spiritual development. Out of the effort to serve these needs grew the Iraq Ministry Center. Opened in 2019, this Center now stands as a beacon of hope in Qaraqosh for the returning Christians. It also serves as an inspiration for the work Help The Persecuted is doing in the rest of the Middle East and beyond.
Building the Iraq Ministry Center
Upon returning to their hometown of Qaraqosh, most Christian families found nothing but scorched buildings and decimated infrastructure. ISIS wreaked havoc on the city during their occupation.
During this time, one family had been living in one of the Help The Persecuted Safe Houses in Jordan—unable to return to their burnt-out home in Qaraqosh. Grateful for the help they’d been given and wanting to support their former community, this family offered their home to Help The Persecuted for ministry work.
This large home was the structure that would be transformed into the Iraq Ministry Center. After a season of construction and refurbishment, it now serves our team as they work to transform the community with services that fulfill their needs—from the body’s most basic need for food to the soul’s deepest need for discipleship.
Without anywhere else to turn for help, the people of Qaraqosh and the surrounding towns now have a central place of support. The goal of the Center is to provide stability amidst instability and keep Christians safe as they rebuild homes and lives. Through them the Gospel continues to pour out in this region of the world. Slowly, but surely, that goal is being realized.
“Your hand was with us since our displacement from Qaraqosh,” said one resident who has been directly impacted by the Ministry Center. “You have provided much support, assistance, and relief. The Ministry Center came at just the right time to help and relieve the Qaraqosh community. Thank you for being here with us.”
What the Ministry Center does
Based on the results of our survey of the region, Help The Persecuted understood what the residents of Qaraqosh most required for safety and survival. The survey showed that:
- 96% of households receive supplemental food from a food pantry. So the Iraq Ministry Center’s food pantry was one of the first services provided.
- 34% had no education resources for their children. This led us to create a preschool, with a director and six teachers who serve more than 60 children. Reliable childcare gives the parents an opportunity to get continuing education to begin seeking work.
- 51% are not able to get vocational training. That’s why we prioritized offering specific job skills training, like English language classes and computer skills, at the Ministry Center.
- 77% of the population didn’t have access to local resources for their health and well being. Which highlights the need for emotional and spiritual development.
- 74% of the population has no access to medical care—which is why we’re looking at adding medical services as part of the Center’s offerings in the near future.
Since the Center’s grand opening in the summer of 2019, we’ve had the privilege of serving more than 2,700 people through one or more of these community services. The impact ripples far beyond that number as the wider community begins to feel the stabilizing effect.
And the community has begun to take notice. Even the local mayor has become an enthusiastic supporter of the Ministry Center.
“Your Ministry Center is distinguished because you did the survey to learn of the most pressing needs in the area, and you are meeting those needs,” the mayor said. “As a government representative in the Qaraqosh region, we will always be supportive of you and your work!”
Our connection to the people also provides a vision for the future of the Ministry Center. There is a goal to continue expanding the services offered and reach even more people. This is a long-term endeavor that will continue to plant roots in Qaraqosh. But that can only happen with your support.
How you can help grow the Iraq Ministry Center
Help The Persecuted supporters just like you made the Iraq Ministry Center possible in the first place. We would never have been able to rebuild the Center or provide such imperative services without the generosity and faith of our partners. And we are on track to more than double the number of people served in this coming year!
In the same way, we cannot continue to grow and expand this beacon of hope without the same faithful support. There has been real progress in reaching the people of northern Iraq, but their needs are still immediate, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry Center is far from the only work we’re doing in Iraq, and your support helps to fund these many different initiatives.
We also have a vision of building similar Ministry Centers in other areas of need around the region, including Lebanon and Syria. The impact of one Ministry Center has been tremendous—adding more Centers will only expand that influence exponentially.
Your prayer and financial gifts are vital to these projects. Stories like Angela’s show the impact a selfless giver can have on a community. Pray for our Field Ministry Team who operates in this area. Pray for those employed by the Iraq Ministry Center. Pray for those that the Center serves. And pray for the other communities where additional Ministry Centers could be added in the near future.
You are a vital partner in helping to spread the love of Christ in the Middle East and beyond.