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Iraq: Escape from ISIS

Hani in Iraq

Hani and his wife were expecting a baby. They and their families lived in Qaraqosh, a city in Iraq.

[Watch a video about a girl from Qaraqosh here.]

ISIS Muslim fighters invaded Qaraqosh and took over Hani’s poultry farm three miles outside the city. They held Hani and six other people as captives for 26 days. One day when the fighters were eating an evening meal, the captives fled before they were discovered. They ran the three miles to Qaraqosh as fast as they could run, but the city wasn’t safe either. Hani and his wife and relatives escaped to the city of Erbil, leaving behind their homes and their farm, which was worth $1 million.

Hani felt discouraged and heartbroken. After a time, he found a church where he was led closer to the Lord. His wife was happy when Jesus helped him change from an angry person to a loving follower of Jesus, and she also became a dedicated Christian.

Hani spends his days passing out Bibles in the Erbil area. He hopes to return to Qaraqosh to start a church. He now has peace inside. “I hated Muslims before,” he said. “Now I see them as victims, because if they knew Jesus, they would not do these works.”

(Source: The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter)

To Talk About
*What is a victim? In Hani’s story, who are the victims? Who does Hani say are the victims? Why does he think they are victims?
*Hani and his family lost their home, their farm, and their business. Why was his wife happy, and why did Hani have peace?

Leaving Everything Behind: Amos

Iraqi refugee child

The Voice of the Martyrs helps Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes by radical Muslim fighters. Eleven-year-old Amos and his family escaped ISIS fighters by flying to Jordan and settling there.

Amos’ mom tells what life was like when ISIS came to their city. “We got in the car and tried to leave, but there were so many cars and people in the street that we got stuck there,” she said. “ISIS was in the street in front of us waving their victory flag. God protected us, and we found a way out. Three times that day God kept us safe.”

Now there are 12 people living in a house in Jordan with the family. Two are children: Amos and his 15-year-old disabled brother Mark.

Amos told what happened when they first left their home in Iraq. “I was very worried and cried a lot. There was no food and no clothes. We left our home with nothing, only the clothes we were wearing. A pastor gave us a shelter made from something not very strong and some food and plates and utensils. They gave us cheese and bread for breakfast.

“Then we came to Jordan. My life is good here. I go to church every Sunday. I am very happy at the [Christian] school. I feel safe, and my mother and father can walk safely in the street because there is no ISIS.

“I like sports and listening to stories — especially stories from the Bible. I like to sew. I help my mother sew when she is tired from taking care of my brother. My mother takes sewing classes at the church. She can earn money from the sewing.”

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)

Click here to watch a video about Iraqi refugee children at a Christian school.
Watch refugee schoolchildren praying here.

Leaving Everything Behind: Too Much TV

Iraqi refugee child

Nine-year-old David, his brother, and six other relatives live together in a house in Jordan. They lack money, medicine, and daily provisions. “Their situation is very hard,” said a Christian worker in the area.

But when David’s mother talked about David and his brother, she said, “They used to be very sad and afraid. Now they are happy. Here there is peace. We are happy and the children are happy.”

The family is happy, even when they have nothing, because they escaped Muslim ISIS fighters in Iraq. They are grateful that God protected them and kept them safe.

ISIS had damaged David’s school in Iraq. He had nothing to do except watch TV. Now David goes to a Christian school that The Voice of the Martyrs helps to support. “I like to come to school and learn and play,” he said. “I hate watching TV because in Iraq and when we first came to Jordan, that was all I could do. Now I like to play with toys and a train.”

The Apostle Paul said he suffered from imprisonments, beatings, shipwreck, stoning, bandits, tiredness, hunger, thirst, cold, and dangers. (See 2 Corinthians 11.) Christians in many places around the world suffer from the same problems today. Another problem some persecuted Christians face is having almost nothing to do for a long time.

Read stories about bored Christian kids here , here , and here.

Leaving Everything Behind: Sam

Iraqi child

Sam, a kindergarten student, talked to Christian visitors in Jordan about his life. He and his family used to live in Iraq. They escaped to Jordan after Muslim ISIS fighters made life in their home too difficult to bear.

“In Iraq I used to play outside and my mom watched me play in the garden,” Sam said. “I went to kindergarten. I had a neighbor with many kids that I played with.

“Then when I heard about ISIS, I was afraid. I dreamed about them coming into the house and shouting and damaging everything.

“In Jordan I feel better now. I like cutting paper, drawing, crafts, and cutting pictures out of books. But when my friend gave me a toy gun I destroyed it because I didn’t want to see it.”

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)

Many Christians are facing persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists. The Voice of the Martyrs helps Christian refugees from Iraq and other countries. Some have been displaced inside Iraq, while others have fled to surrounding nations. In northern Nigeria, Christians have been attacked by the Islamic group Boko Haram. VOM provides medical care, temporary shelter, food, clothing, blankets, clean drinking water, and other needs. Learn how to help here.

Leaving Everything Behind: Mary

Iraqi refugee child

“My life in Iraq was beautiful,” said 8-year-old Mary. “I went to school and had friends and could play anytime. I lived in Mosul with my mom and dad and sister.”

Mary’s family is Christian. Things changed for them when ISIS, a radical Muslim group, began attacking their city. “Mosul was full of ISIS,” Mary said. “The war started and they damaged all of Iraq.

“I felt sad and worried and afraid for my dad. I was shouting all the time for my dad not to leave the house for work. He worked doing something with electricity.

“We were there with ISIS a very long time. No more school. No more playing with friends. Sometimes I wet my bed at night because I was so afraid.”

Mary’s family escaped to Jordan where they were safer. “My life is nice now,” Mary said in Jordan. Here we are strong. We are not afraid, and I sleep well.

“I spend all my time here at school with friends. My sister also comes to the school. I like school the best. I can do all my homework at home. I like to sing and dance all the time in my home.”

The Voice of the Martyrs helps Christian families like Mary’s in Jordan. Watch a video clip about Iraqi refugees here and here .