Nestled on the outskirts of Mosul, in the northwest corner of Iraq, Qaraqosh—like many of its sister cities—is a true cradle of civilization. Ancient architecture and artifacts litter the area, representing nearly three millennia of historical influence.
As far back as 600 B.C., opposing kingdoms and religious groups have fought over the city. First, the Assyrians and Babylonians. Then the Persians, Catholics and Kurds. But Qaraqosh is unique to this part of the world in that its culture, despite a violent, turbulent history, is overwhelmingly Christian . . .
. . . until 2014, when ISIS took control.
It is believed that nearlyall of Qaraqosh’s 50,000 residents fled when ISIS arrived. And in their flight they lost almost everything. ISIS made a point to destroy not just homes and possessions, but an entire way of life.
A few decided to stay and guard the city’s relics. A woman named Bayan, which translates to ‘Good News,’ tells a story of her sister’s effort to defend Qaraqosh’s ancient churches:https://youtu.be/NBDInm83kXs
We’ll continue ministering to Bayan. We pray for Bayan and her family that the story of what happened to her sister is revealed and that they have peace about her decision to stay
For Iraqi Christian refugees, life is extremely challenging. Hosting countries severely limit or completely outlaw their right to work. Housing is expensive and scarce. The prospect of earning a visa to the EU or US is slim. And many are separated from friends and family.
As has been highlighted in the news countless times, some refugees are so desperate to escape these conditions that they risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean into Italy, Greece, or Spain – with overwhelmingly tragic results.
And, until recently, the prospect of going home to Qaraqosh hasn’t been favorable. Despite the town’s liberation in the fall of 2017, northwestern Iraq is still considered one of the most dangerous regions of the world. Furthermore, the three-year war decimated infrastructure and services; water, electricity, and food are all scarce.
For former residents, returning would require not just rebuilding from scratch, but also first tearing down the ruins of their previous lives.
As of today, less than half of the town’s population has returned. But there is a glimmer of hope. A handful of Christians (including a handful who miraculously survived ISIS’s takeover) have returned to rebuild the city. And Help The Persecuted has been at their right hand to support them.
Through your generous donations, Help The Persecuted has sponsored retreats and special services to promote healing and restoration. We’ve helped repair and rebuild destroyed homes, churches, and business. And we’ve nearly completed work on a Christian community center that will provide space for Bible study, discipleship, life training workshops, a preschool, and much more.https://youtu.be/d_W5Cz4dRNw
We want to help restore our Iraqi brothers and sisters and see a flourishing Church in the midst of the Muslim world. Additionally, helping Iraqis rebuild their home country will make a tremendous, rippling economic impact on surrounding Middle Eastern countries that host refugees.
So why all this talk of Qaraqosh? Because Qaraqosh demonstrates an excellent model for Help The Persecutedas we move into a country that was similarly devastated by war and terrorism: Syria. God is opening the doors for expansion.
A group of friends have offered a $100,000 “Pipeline of Hope” Gift Challenge to help us expand into Syria and beyond. Thus, every dollar you contribute this month is doubled in impact.
With your participation, $100,000 can effectively become $200,000 of support.
Just as in Iraq, it’s vital that we launch a permanent, designated Syrian field team. This team will provide immediate relief efforts for persecuted and displaced Christians there, as well begin focusing on long-term plans to restore and rebuild.
We have been crucified with Christ. We are called to carry His burden, but He tells us that His burden is light. Help us offload much heavier burdens for our persecuted brothers and sisters by ensuring that the Syrian church can thrive once more.