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Another newly erected cross was
placed on the roof of a
church in Qaraqosh.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

There were tears, praying and singing as the cross -- deemed illegal by ISIS -- returned to the Christian villages in Iraq's Nineveh Plain. News continues to emerge of villages being reclaimed from ISIS, and signs of the terrorists' previously committed destruction become apparent.

As soon as it was remotely safe, priests were escorted back to their villages by car. In Christian villages like Karamles and Qaraqosh -- half an hour's drive east of Mosul -- they were among the first non-combatants to return to villages liberated from ISIS occupation.

Father Thabet, who lives with his congregation within a complex for internally displaced people in Erbil, brought a cross about the size of a man with him when he returned to his home village of Karamles.

"I am so happy I can do this. I'm smiling from cheek to cheek, and I weep tears of joy at the same time. This is the trip I have been praying for...two years now," he said. The Christian leader climbed Barbara Hill, next to his village, and planted a cross covered with flowers firmly into the ground in an area overlooking Karamles.

ISIS conquered the Nineveh Plain -- including Iraq's second city of Mosul and many Christian villages surrounding it -- in 2014. Tens of thousands of Christian families had to run for their lives. The battle for Mosul is still being fought, but large Christian settlements surrounding Mosul, like Karamles and Qaraqosh, are thankfully already liberated. It is expected that it will take some time before families can start returning to their villages close to Mosul. Most of them will wait for Mosul itself to be liberated and for ISIS to be driven out completely.

Praise God for this opportunity, making it possible for these followers of Christ to return home. Continue to pray for the protection of the country's civilians as ISIS becomes more desperate. Ask that the city of Mosul and all surrounding villages will soon be liberated and made safe so that many more people will have the opportunity to return home and rebuild their communities. May the name of Jesus be proclaimed all over Iraq so that His church will not only recover from the aftermath of severe persecution but may also flourish, grow strong, and become firmly united together in Him.

Current Ministry Project

VOMC is partnering to teach and equip persecuted Christian women sewing skills so that they can provide a sustainable source of income for their families and give them the opportunity to be witnesses for Christ through their new businesses.

Project Fund: Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Population
38,872,655 (July 2020 est.)

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

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

Leader
President Barham Salih

Government type
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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