Iraq: Preparing to go home

June 19, 2017

This is great news. Thanks to your prayers and support, 74 families have been able to repair their homes in Qaraqosh, Iraq and are preparing to return home.

One of those who has received support is Najib Ina (pictured below). His home was used by the self-proclaimed Islamic State to store all the sand and stones when they were digging a tunnel, and there is a large hole in the floor of the one of the bedrooms of Najib’s house where the tunnel was started. Every wall of the house is covered in writing: in one place is the signature of ‘Abu Asman’, one of the militants, and in another place it says ‘He who refuses Islamic State will surely be killed’. Your support and prayers are enabling Najib to repair his home.

Qaraqosh was liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) at the end of 2016. Before the invasion of IS, the city had been home to 50,000 Christians; they were forced to flee to escape the militants in the summer of 2014. Some of the houses were burned from the inside or ransacked and vandalised by the militants, like Najib’s house; other parts of the town were completely destroyed by bombs or rockets.

When asked how they decided where to begin their repairs, George, a church leader from Qaraqosh, explained, “We decided to restore the city piece by piece so that we wouldn’t get isolated houses where a family would live between empty houses. The main thought is that we need to recreate the sense of community.”

The first houses to be repaired are close to the centre of the town, where there are a few shops. Over twenty small shops have opened in Qaraqosh, a sign that the town is coming back to life. Most of these small businesses sell construction materials and paint, but a small cafeteria has also opened its doors, as well as a shop where water and other drinks can be bought.

One of the shopkeepers told an Open Doors local partner, “I know the security is not okay yet, but I wanted to start my life here again. A lot of families want to go back, but they don’t have the resources to do so.”

George (pictured below) told Open Doors local partner, “Your organisation has committed to help restoring parts of our town. By doing that, you gave hope to many families, but much more is needed.”

As well as repairing homes, Open Doors is supporting displaced believers to start small businesses. It costs between £1,000 and £4,000 to set up a family in sustainable employment or to repair their home. For example £60 could pay for a water tank on a bomb-damaged roof.

Three ways you can help Christians in Iraq…

1. Pray. Use the points below, and order our free prayer resources…
2. Give. Give online now to help Christians in Iraq to rebuild their lives. You can also order our free ‘Walk, bake, ride, run… With Them’ fundraising pack to help you raise money too!
3. Speak up. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition and call for a future of safety and dignity for Christians in the Middle East.

Pray now…

Jacoub, a church leader from Bartella, one of the Iraqi villages that was recently liberated, says, “Thank God that the ‘dark cloud’ covering the Christian villages in the Nineveh plains has been taken away since the Iraqi government was able to retake control there. We believe that through prayers this has happened. This makes me believe that God will hear our other prayers too. So please continue to pray for the restoration of the Christian villages. Pray that people might start returning to their houses and land. Pray they might live there with dignity, in freedom and peace.”

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