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Displaced Iraqis Escape Death in Mosul, Iraq

April 6, 2017

Wrapped body of Christian woman being laid to rest in Iraq.
Islamic State militants last year killed a Christian woman identified only as Samira in Baghdaida, outside Mosul.

Some Iraqi civilians able to escape the Iraqi military's battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) for control of Mosul have not only avoided death but are finding life in Christ.

A displaced 10-year-old boy in northern Iraq was one of 600 kids who enjoyed an indigenous ministry's program at which children received Bibles and heard the gospel. Mahmood decided to put his faith in Christ for salvation, the ministry director said.

"That night, we asked the kids to go tell their parents about what they had heard and share the story of Jesus with everyone," the director said. "Mahmood's father came the next day complaining to us about our influence in his kid's decision to accept Christ."

The boy's father was upset and fearful of community backlash after hearing his son say, "I became a follower of Christ."

"His father had never heard a word about Jesus, so he gave us the opportunity to tell him about Christ and His salvation," the director said. "Not long after that, he accepted Christ and took Bibles for his wife and two daughters."

Ministries based in Iraq are in ideal position to provide aid, as they can purchase local items inexpensively and are familiar enough with local cultures to introduce the gospel along with relief items.

Other parents also approached the ministry leader with complaints about their children; they too ended up accepting Christ, he said. He gave them Bibles, and they told others of the peace and joy they had found in Jesus.

"Mahmood's father now has a Bible study in his house every Friday at 10 a.m. – the Muslim prayer day!" the director said.

Those stuck in Mosul face a reality that stands in sharp contrast with those who have fled. U.S-led coalition airstrikes in embattled western Mosul reportedly buried scores of civilians in rubble last month. Other civilians have succumbed to months of brutality by ISIS. Since the campaign to retake Iraq's second largest city from ISIS began on Oct. 17, desperate ISIS militants have tortured and killed civilians suspected of being sympathetic to the liberators. Prohibiting civilians from fleeing, the militants have sent the wounded into streets to lure into the open Iraqi forces seeking to help them, and they have kept women and children close by as human shields.

Iraqi forces, including the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, are caught in a harsh dilemma. After the coalition forces retook eastern Mosul, an estimated 400,000 civilians are trapped in the city. ISIS militants are also trapped; surrounded by coalition forces, with no escape route or hope of victory, they have ensured that as many remaining civilians as possible meet a cruel end. Horrifying accounts by relatives of killed civilians are trickling out daily.

Partially destroyed building Near Mosul, Iraq.
Ruins of a building outside Mosul after destruction by Islamic State.

At least 355,000 civilians have been able to escape Mosul and its suburbs, Reuters reported, citing government figures. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week said the international community must step up aid to help them.

Ministries based in Iraq are in ideal position to provide aid, as they can purchase local items inexpensively, know secure ways to distribute them and are familiar enough with local cultures to introduce the Bible and gospel along with relief items. They need only funding. All three camps in Khazar and Hassan Shami are full with displaced people from east Mosul, the director said.

"Despite the region still being in a state of war, large groups of displaced inhabitants are risking their lives trying to return home," he said. "Although this is dangerous, due to living conditions in the camps, the lack of resources and the cold weather, many are still trying. We provided some humanitarian support to the displaced that were in the camps, in the roads and in small villages located between the cities of Erbil, Dohuk and Mosul, but the need was much greater than our resources."

The ministry team recently came upon a village of Yarsanis (in Iraq called Kaka'in), followers of a syncretic religion founded in the late 14th century in western Iran by Sultan Sahak. The director said the team learned that they had militant tendencies, so the members spent much time in prayer before approaching them.

They went to the house of the village elder, religious leader Kaka Shehab, and told him about Christ. His daughter was ill with asthma, so they prayed for her before leaving him with a Kurdish-language Bible, the director said.

"The next day," he said, "he phoned us and said, 'My daughter has recovered, thanks to your prayers. Please, come back to the village and pray in every house and for everyone the same prayer that you prayed for her, and give Bibles to every house in the village."

The team returned and distributed 500 Kurdish-language Bibles, and they prayed for and explained Christ to all who received them, he said.

We pray and hope that all the followers of this religion will turn to Christ soon," he said. "Please Pray."

To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 444SHM. Thank you!

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