MOSUL – Release International is working with Christians who have been forced to flee for their lives in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Halla is one. She lived in the Iraqi city of Mosul – and ISIS fighters were on their way. Their reputation went before them. Halla and her mother knew they had to leave. But it was all too much for Halla’s mother. She died of a broken heart soon afterwards.
Release has launched an appeal to help Christians forced to flee by persecution or war to begin their lives again in a place of safety. Release CEO Paul Robinson shares Halla’s harrowing story.
Halla: “Christians were persecuted in Mosul. So I have had to leave my home three times. I saw bodies in the streets and Christian women were being kidnapped. After we left Mosul my mother died from a broken heart.”
In August 2014 the Kurdish troops withdrew from Qaraqosh overnight, leaving those who lived there completely unprotected and afraid for their lives.
Halla: “Then we heard that ISIS was coming. I was afraid ISIS would treat us like the Yazidis. Kidnapping, raping and murdering young women. Someone said ‘You have to leave Qaraqosh now!’ I was afraid and alone. But I left Qaraqosh. And three days later ISIS came. I was lucky I didn’t leave it too late. Thank God. It was like a message from Jesus. Thank God. His hand was on me.”
Many Christians including Halla fled to Irbil in Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq. She lived for two years in a high rise building, completely empty apart from its concrete structure. Some are still living in these empty spaces. She ended up in a caravan camp with 3,000 other Christian families.
Halla: “The Christians here gave us everything. Release partners have helped with that.”
The camp is now deserted. After the territorial defeat of ISIS in 2017. Halla and the other 3,000 Christian families were told to return to their homes in Mosul and Qaraqosh. But of course some of them can’t. Their houses were burned, their livelihoods were destroyed and they are still afraid of extremism.
Halla: “We can’t go back. After ISIS came our neighbours looted our homes. The fighting destroyed our homes. ISIS also destroyed the churches and the crosses. That affected our hearts more than losing our homes.”
So people like Halla have had to go back into the city or Irbil to try to find anything they can. Despite her circumstances Halla’s face radiated with joy especially when speaking about Jesus.
Halla: “I forgive those who persecuted me. I pray that God will open their minds and lead them in His path.”
About Release International
Release International is an international organization for monitoring and reporting persecution of Christians around the world and helping the victims of that persecution. It is considered one of the “leading persecution watchdogs”, which serves Christians in more than 30 countries. Release International was originally established by the Romanian minister Richard Wurmbrand under the name Christian Mission to the Communist World, after he was released from imprisonment in Romania in the 1960s.
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