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Distribution of food and supplies in
Erbil to refugees from Bartella.
World Watch Monitor

Thousands of Christians are continuing to leave their homes and possessions behind as ruthless militants sweep across their country. Recently, the last of the remaining Christians in the northern town of Bartella decided to flee for safer areas. Approximately 2,000 Christian families abandoned the town in early August, the majority of them joining the other 60,000 believers who had also fled to the Kurdish-controlled city of Erbil. More than 100,000 Christians and individuals from other vulnerable groups have been displaced since the Islamic State (IS, also referred to as ISIS) began establishing a caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria. (To learn more about the plight of believers throughout the country, visit this page.)

Father Yacoub Saad Shamas, a church leader who helped lead these Christians to safety, recounts their arduous journey to Erbil, stating, "It was a painful decision to make: to leave behind our homes, the place we grew up in, the place we love. Some church guards and I were the last Christians to leave our village. It took us 10 hours to get to Erbil. In my church group, we had six babies born along the way. It was all very difficult."

He further notes, "Jesus said that because they have persecuted Him, they will persecute us. But He also said that although we face tribulation, we can be sure that Christ has overcome the world." Father Yacoub is seeking prayer from the international community. "Without prayer we really cannot do...anything," he explains. "Please ask your leaders to help us, so we can return to our homes and stay in Iraq."

Thank you for upholding these dear Christian brothers and sisters in prayer, asking that our Lord will reveal Himself to each one of them in a very personal and tangible way. May the assurance of His presence encourage them to put their trust in Him, despite the chaos and unrest currently occurring in Iraq. Pray that He will meet the many needs of these latest refugees from Bartella, equipping them to extend His grace and peace to others who are presently suffering. Also intercede for the many members of the Islamic State, asking that the Holy Spirit will penetrate their hearts and minds with spiritual truth so that they, too, can enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

To learn more about Iraq's beleaguered church, visit our Country Report.

Current Ministry Project

By working with credible ministry partners, VOMC is providing persecuted Christian women sewing skills training so they can receive a sustainable source of income and thus adequately support their families. In addition, these women are able to seize the opportunities presented to them through their new businesses by serving as effective witnesses for Christ.

Project Fund: Women’s Ministry

Country Information

39,650,145 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Arab (75-80), Kurdish (15-20), Turkoman, Assyrian, and other (5)

Religion (%)
Islam (95-98), Christianity (1), other (1-4)

President Barham Salih (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system

Mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Iraq

Pray for the protection of the remaining believers in Iraq during this time of upheaval and danger. May many churches and Christian relief organizations seize the opportunity to provide greatly needed assistance and ministry to the numerous suffering people of this war-torn nation. As God’s work of healing, provision and restoration takes place, pray that a stable democratic government will be established.


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Iraq News

  • Oppression of Iraqi Believers
    Man's hands holding a gospel tract
    Those caught evangelizing could face blasphemy charges.
    Photo: VOMC

    A recent report from the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East highlights the desperate circumstances facing many Iraqi Christians – both those residing in their country as well as those living as refu

  • Aid Workers Released
    Devastation from the war
    Some of the devastation
    from the conflict in Iraq.
    Photo: World Watch Monitor

    On January 20th, four humanitarian aid workers from the French organization, SOS Chretiens d'Orient, went missing while in Baghdad. Details were limited, providing no information on those responsible nor the reasons behind

  • Four Foreign Aid Workers Missing
    Devastation in Iraq
    Some of the devastation from the conflict in Iraq.
    Photo: World Watch Monitor

    On January 20th, four workers affiliated with the French organization, SOS Chretiens d'Orient, went missing while in Baghdad. Despite repeated attempts to contact them, no response has been received to date. At last report

  • Families Again Forced to Flee Hometown

    Hilla, Iraq

    Hundreds of Iraqi Christian families had recently returned to their hometown of Teleskuf, after being displaced for years due to attacks perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, only to be forced to flee their northern Iraq community all over again. These families hav