IRAQ — As a young boy living in Baghdad, Fadi experienced a lot of trauma when the Iraq war broke out in 2003. But Fadi has stayed to serve as a lay leader in his church.
“During the period of 2006 and 2007 there would be 15 or 16 explosions in just one day in Baghdad besides the assassinations, besides the shelling, besides the kidnappings that used to happen. We saw them as normal things: bodies in the street, something normal. We went through a period that no one would envy us for.”
When the Iraq war began in 2003, Fardi was just a boy living in in Baghdad.
“When war broke out it destroyed the country’s infrastructure. The electricity and water facilities were hit. And so we would go for many days without electricity. I remember I had to study for my exams using the light of a candle. I would ready by the light of the candle. They bombarded the infrastructure, the telecoms, the airport, the schools, the universities.”
In the midst of war, the church in Baghdad faced its own particularly threats from extremists.
“They blew up a lot of churches and they kidnapped priests. I was once in a church in the Al Dora area. I was in that church when they put a car bomb there. But God had mercy and the car set on fire and so we discovered it. And the police came and stopped it exploding. So the security situation was one of the strongest challenges that the church faced.
“The second challenge the church faced was emigration: the emigration of the Christians from the country. As you well know, people are the pillars of the church. The church exists on its pillars, the people. And we saw a big emigration from here.”
But Fadi has stayed in Iraq, where he serves as a lay leader in his church. And he believes that the church has an important role to play in Iraq.
“The church didn’t stop despite everything. The activities never stopped. The Christian teaching never stopped. The rituals of the church never stopped. The church’s door was never shut. And this is by the grace of God. Also at times of displacement, the church opened its doors to people. It provided the needy with support. It opened homes for the needy and for the displaced. It gave them food and gave them supplies. The church was always up to the challenge. It is very strong.”
As he looks ahead now, Fadi hopes to stay in Iraq and prays for a brighter future for his family.
“Of course we wish for peace and love. We wish that the explosions would stop and that the killings would stop. And thank God we have started to see a change in the situation. We wish to stay here in the future. Thank God, we still have schools and universities. We have development now. And some people came and offered to help this country. We have construction projects. We hope, we wish and we pray that this country might rise up again and come back again so we can have a flourishing future.”
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