Today, we visited a remote village near the ISIS stronghold of Mosul in Northern Iraq. Nearly 800 Christian refugees occupy a small cluster of abandoned buildings left by residents who have already fled the violence. Ever since ISIS began its bloody conquest for power, this community has remained totally unreached by aid and relief teams.
The refugees we met were bewildered, starving, sick, and utterly alone. Every day they live in fear. Their children cry out in the night, terrified by nightmares of the horrors they have witnessed . . . astonishing images of evil that can never be erased.
ISIS has attacked here before. And just two nights ago, bombing could be heard in the valley below, only a few minutes away. The extremists already occupy the neighboring village, and they are expected to arrive here any day now.
Our teams worked quickly to distribute three truckloads of supplies to these families—carpets and blankets to sleep on, staple food items, hygiene items, and clean water.
Watch On the Frontline: Helping Christian Refugees in Iraq from World Help on Vimeo.
Most of the Christians fled here after they were driven out of their homes by ISIS. The majority of them were robbed of all their belongings at checkpoints along the way. With nothing left to call their own, the kindness of strangers is their only hope of survival.
I met Karam and Rana, a couple who lived in Mosul before being overrun by ISIS. As the Iraqi armies fled, the persecution began almost immediately. Trucks with loudspeakers attached to them traveled relentlessly around the city blaring one bone-chilling anthem: “Convert or die.”
A notice was even pinned on their door, confirming the worst: Any Christians left in Mosul would be executed in the streets for apostasy.
The order from ISIS for all Christians to convert to Islam or face certain death
Karam and Rana gathered their children and ran, moving constantly to escape the slaughter. In all, they’ve lived in four different villages without hope for safety or consistency anywhere. “Our children have no way to go to school; we have nowhere to live; we have no solutions; there is nothing to go back to,” they told me.
Only hours ago, ISIS took control of a village literally 10 minutes away from here. The couple knows they need to prepare to run again . . . or face torture and certain death. “This is the end for Christians in Iraq,” Karam said. “All of us are leaving.”
What we are witnessing today is, without a doubt, the Christian Holocaust of the Middle East.
These persecuted believers have been forgotten by the world. The violence has kept many aid groups away from villages like this, and thousands will starve without immediate help.
Today, more than ever before, I was reminded of the purpose of World Help . . . of why we exist—It is for such a time as this. We cannot wait a moment longer for others to intervene. It has to be us. It has to be our families, our churches, and our communities who stand and say together: “ENOUGH!”
Time is running out. Can I count on you to join me today?