Returning home, most Iraqi Christians are confronted with the ravages of war- an scene that they had not pictured in their heads.
Displaced Iraqi Christians are finally being permitted to return home to native northern Iraq. Yet the home that they once longed for isn’t the one they had pictured in their dreams- it has been ravaged by the effects of war.
According to a CBN News report, when citizens returned home to their liberated village in Iraq’s Karamlis, they were confronted with a scene of devastation. The bells at Saint Addai Church rang out for the first time in over two years, which should have been a joyous occasion. Yet due to malicious ISIS attacks, it showed the physical signs of brutality.
What remained of the church as parishioners returned for Sunday worship was the charred remains of torched prayer benches, tomb remnants that had been disrespected and scarred, a headless statue of the Virgin Mary, splintered glass shards, and much more greeted them instead.
Despite the surrounding darkness, the Iraqi Christians still praised God by lifting their voices, singing hymns, and hearing a message of hope. Reverend Thabet Habib assured parishioners that the village still had a future, claiming, “I stress again in the midst of this destruction, that God is always giving us light to spread peace and love and rebuilding.”
In August 2014, this area fell to ISIS resulting in many residents being displaced. Many of their homes were destroyed forcing them to live in Mosul refugee camps. Others fled abroad for protection.
Some Iraqi Christians aren’t that optimistic, though. Christianity, at one time, was a sizeable minority in Iraq. However, since the US-led invasion in 2003, many emigrated westward to escape the violence. Now, Christians are in an even further minority in the Middle East causing some of them to wonder about the future of themselves, and their family.
One former village resident, Sahir Shamoun says, “I’m not sure when or if I’ll be back. I think of my children. Will they have a future here?”
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