Exclusive stories from the mission field
A refugee from Syria told local missionaries in Iraq that he had dreamt of a group of Christians visiting his house and telling him pleasant things that he could not now recall. He said he was a Muslim officer in the Syrian army who had fled when enemy soldiers occupied his home. “I remember when I woke up, I had a wonderful peace and joy that I had never experienced before,” he told them. “Can you visit us at home?”
During a time of war, a Muslim who had learned about Christ through satellite TV programs had no one to answer his questions about Christianity, but after fighting ended he told a local missionary that when his city was being bombed, Jesus had visited him in a dream and given him a message.
A young man in Iraq, Sami, and his father were descended from multiple generations of historic Christians, but during occupation by Islamist militants they had been forcibly converted to Islam. Such converts have trouble showing loyalty to a new caliphate, often refusing to join the fight to establish and expand it. Both men were subjected to torture; Sami told native missionaries in Europe that his father died trying to save him from the militants.
The pope’s historic visit to Iraq in March presented massive security challenges, with all military and civil security forces taking stringent measures. Soldiers at checkpoints were instructed to seize the cargo of any transport vehicle, and before one major papal event they confiscated local missionaries’ carload of 1,000 Bibles. “The strange thing is that we met several people while walking in the streets carrying the same Bibles that we distribute, and when we asked them, they said that they got them from the checkpoint,” a ministry leader said.
A 30-year-old Kurdish woman was one of 6,000 Yazidis seized when ISIS militants invaded Iraq in 2014. Yazidi religion being especially despised by Muslim extremists, over the next three years she was sold to fighters of different factions who raped her and her daughters. When she was freed, her parents did not recognize her.
Five years ago, a Muslim family man in northern Iraq believed Christians were misguided and that Islam was the solution to the world’s problems.
When Islamic State (ISIS) militants took over his town in the Nineveh plains, he rejoiced that Islamic law would finally be implemented.
Within a month, ISIS forces had beaten his sister and mother on the street and killed his brother.