Christians from Mosul, Iraq, have been forced to flee from their homes after ISIS, the Islamic militant group now ruling the region, issued an ultimatum – convert to Islam, pay a religious levy, or be killed.
Listen: Pastor Nigel from Open Doors Australia on Open House
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A report by Human Rights Watch found that homes in Mosul were had been marked with the letter ‘N’ for Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian. In some cases, ISIS has taken over these homes.
"The situation in Iraq right now is extremely desperate," Pastor Nigel, CEO of Open Doors Australia, says. "They’re trying to systematically eradicate the church from Iraq."
"Many of the believers are leaving with jewellery, valuables or baggage, but at the checkpoints they’re having it all taken from them; they’re pushed out literally with just what they’re wearing."
But it’s not only the Christians facing persecution, with moderate Muslims also being pushed out of Mosul by ISIS.
There are also reports that Muslims have been protecting and defending their Christian neighbours, appealing to ISIS not to harm the people they have lived alongside in peace.
Pastor Nigel describes a situation where a Muslim woman sitting with her Christian friend in Mosul, "reached out to her and said, 'I'm so sorry for what is happening to you.'"
Open Doors, along with churches and Christian organisations around the world, are calling on people to pray for Iraq, for both the persecuted as well as the persecutors.
"We always see in this situation, the martyrdom, the horror – but also the strength of the church and the glory of God running hand in hand with it," Pastor Nigel says.
For more information about how you can support Christians facing persecution in Iraq, please visit www.opendoors.org.au.