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Families who have fled from Mosul check into Kelek camp.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Christians in Iraq, and especially those from the city of Mosul, are enduring yet more hardship and persecution because of their faith. The militant group called the "Islamic State" (previously known as ISIS), which is presently in control of Mosul, summoned Christian leaders to a meeting on July 17th to notify them of Islamic rules that are to be applied to non-Muslims. When the Christian leaders did not attend this meeting, it was announced that the remaining believers in the city should leave, pay a "protection" tax, or face execution. The Christians were also ordered to leave all of their property behind.

The ultimatum was initially set for noon on July 18th, but was then extended by 24 hours. Earlier, the Islamic State (IS) sought the takeover of houses belonging to members of minority communities by marking them with the phrase "property of the Islamic State" -- including homes that were still inhabited by families. Christian houses were marked with the letter "N" for "Nazarite."

It is believed that most Christian families have now fled from Mosul, many to areas of northern Iraq under Kurdish control. Some fleeing families were reportedly stopped at checkpoints manned by IS militants who ruthlessly confiscated their personal belongings, including money, jewelry and mobile phones.

The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda, said of this upsetting news: "Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future. Since 2003, two-thirds of the Christians have left the country. June was the first month in 1,600 years in which Mosul did not celebrate any mass. The attack on Christians has been immense." To view a recent BBC video clip about this situation, click here.

Trusting that God is ultimately in control, pray that He will use even these devastating events for His greater purposes. May His suffering children not despair or grow weary while under such severe trial, but look to Him for daily sustenance, strength and grace. Pray that those who have been forced to flee their homes will find safe refuge in other areas of the country, so that they may begin to rebuild their lives. Please also intercede for the militants of IS, asking God to work powerfully in their hearts so that they may turn from evil and instead embrace Jesus Christ as Lord. For it is God's desire that Iraq become a country where Christians can live peaceably and continue with the building of His Kingdom without threat of danger or loss.