Iraqi Christians have requested urgent prayer as the situation in Mosul and surrounding areas deteriorates.
Islamist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), as al-Qaeda related group, began their violent take-over on Friday, June 6th. ISIS now has full control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The International Organization for Migration estimated on Wednesday, June 11th, that half a million residents had fled from the violence, many attempting to find refuge in the nearby Kurdish provinces of Northern Iraq.
Hundreds of Christian families are among those fleeing the area and at least one Assyrian church in Mosul has been burned down in the violence.
Christians feel particularly vulnerable in light of the treatment of fellow Christians in the Raqqah province of northern Syria where ISIS has also established its authority. Recall that, in February 2014, ISIS commanders in Raqqah forced Christian community leaders to sign a contract agreeing to a set of stringent conditions. These included the payment of a special tax (known as jizya), conduct of Christian rites only behind closed doors so as to be neither visible nor audible to Muslims, and adherence to Islamic commercial, dress code and dietary regulations.
Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh plain is the traditional heartland of Iraq’s Christian communities. Many Christians fled to this region when forced to leave Baghdad and other areas in recent years. Christians are alarmed at the ISIS take-over of Mosul, fearful that this will further accelerate the decline of the Christian presence in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians are urging us to pray, asking that:
a. The Christians of Mosul will know the close presence of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father,
b. Those who have chosen to remain in the city would not be subjected to violent or unjust treatment,
c. Humanitarian assistance would reach all who are in need, whether having been displaced or remaining in Mosul,
d. Christians throughout Iraq will know the peace and presence of Jesus each day, and will remain faithful to Him and clear in their testimony,
e. The Iraqi authorities will act decisively to improve security for all citizens of Iraq,
f. Those who are perpetuating the conflict would know the Spirit’s conviction of sin and come to understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness.