IRAQ – This Christmas, there will be an empty chair at the table for Rafif’s family in Iraq. Everything Rafif knows about her dad she has heard from her mum, and other people who knew him. Because when Raddif ran towards that bus filled with Christian students, warning them of the planned bombing, he saved a lot of lives but was himself killed. It would be a few more months before Rafif was born. She’s 11 now, and she never got to meet her dad. She’s one of many Christian children across the world suffering the long-term effects of persecution.
Rafif – 11-year-old Iraqi girl:
“Christmas is like a tradition in the whole world. You give gifts to each other of course secretly without knowing who gave it to you. You decorate the tree, you have fun with your relatives, you giggle, you laugh and Christmas is always lovely because you sit with lovely people you know.”
Each Christmas 11-year-old Rafif from Iraq sets out nativity figures in a papier-mâché cave made by her dad. But Rafif never knew her father. On the 2nd of May 2010 when she was still in her mother’s womb her father was killed in an extremist attack that targeted Christian students
“My dad’s name was Raddif. One day he was at work, he was working. And he saw there was a bomb when the students were going into the bus and they were going to college to study. But he stopped and wave with his hand and was shouting, ‘stop, stop moving.’ The bomb didn’t bomb on them, it bombed on him. So he got injured and died. People and my mum always say that he saved many people’s lives and that he’s a hero.”
The attack in which Rafif’s father was killed was carried out by extremists targeting Christian students. Christians in Iraq frequently face persecution for their faith.
“I miss my dad because he’s not there at Christmas. He can’t celebrate it with me. Sometimes I kind of tell God, ‘Why did You do this? Why did You take him away?’ But the other times I think because he was a good person God took him up to heaven.”
“The thing I like most is that we learn about God more. We get educated with Christian things. The second thing that I like is we learn new stories. Some of the prophets they saved other people’s lives which is the same thing as my dad did. So, I think that’s the same person inside that book. It’s my dad.”
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
- Global News Alliance, Giving Hope this Christmas to Iraqi Girl Who Lost Her Father
- Open Doors, Official Website