Iraqi family determined not to abandon 'cradle of Christianity'

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
A family ministers through music and worship to extended family and other Christian refugees from Mosul and Erbil who have made their way to Baghdad where about 30 of 600 Christian families who once lived in the capital city of Iraq still remain. The family who continues to minister, told Christian Examiner they are afraid, but trusting God. | Courtesy photo

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Christian Examiner) -- For one Christian family in Baghdad, Iraq there is no real choice whether to flee or to stay in what has become an increasingly inhospitable and hostile environment.

Baghdad has been home for generations. They are the remnant, one in a place where about only 30 orthodox Christian families remain in what is commonly referred to as the cradle of Christianity where 600 families once thrived.

"Sure we are afraid. Sure we are sad," Miriam told the Christian Examiner. "But we like Iraq and we trust God."

Miriam and her husband minister in an evangelical church in Baghdad. He leads in worship and they involve their teenage daughters and a son in worship through music and drama.

Both of their extended families have enjoyed frequent travel throughout the Middle East and beyond – and yet they always return to home base where they are positive and upbeat.

As the situation for Christians in Iraq became dire this past summer, Miriam received a call from her brother in Mosul, near Kurdistan, Iraq.

People inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's Al-Mashtal district November 17, 2014. At least seven people were killed and nine wounded when the car bomb exploded in Baghdad, police said. REUTERS/Stringer

"Something in the night told them to run away fast," Miriam said.

The family of six, with two young boys and a physically and mentally handicapped young woman, escaped Islamic terrorists just in time.

Walking six hours, with just the clothes on their backs, and with no money, "at last they arrived in Erbil in the morning," she said.

Miriam said her family quickly arranged transportation for her brother's family to travel to Baghdad, where they are living in cramped quarters with their mother.

Meanwhile, the family continues to look for other refugees who need help. Miriam said Erbil has become so crowded that many are camping on the outskirts of Baghdad and have taken refuge in churches and in schools.

As for any danger her family might face, Miriam references her strong faith.

"We are in His hand," she says.

One of Miriam's teenage daughters says she continues to go to school and church, and that surprisingly, she is not afraid of the Islamic State (IS) as they continue to threaten Christians in Iraq.

"God is with us," she says.

The family recently invited refugees into their church for a day of celebration and gave them food and clothes provided in part by Jalil Dawood, pastor of the Arabic Church of Dallas and his ministry.

The daughter does have a prayer request, however. Living in the heart of a district where suicide bombers have increased car bombings in the past few months, she asked for prayer, not to leave Iraq, but "for God to save us and to stop the bombing."