Eddie Lyle, president of Open Doors writes:
Last week, I had the honour of meeting His Grace Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul, at the House of Lords. He was the last bishop to leave Mosul when so-called Islamic State seized control of the city in 2014. This invitation was all the more significant because it was issued by Archbishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. It’s a privilege to be building these strategic partnerships. Archbishop Nicodemus said that there were 300 metres between himself and his attackers as he left. He and his church fled to Erbil, where they are still living. No member of his church has yet returned as Mosul is too dangerous. His personal possessions were destroyed.
This man is 48 years old and yet, he says, he has never known peace in his nation. “IS took everything: our history, our churches, our monasteries, our dignity, our money – and our manuscripts. They tried to take God from our hearts – but they couldn’t.” He sees the church’s role as pivotal, not wanting God’s people in Iraq, His ‘living stones’, to become a museum or – worse – ruins. In the past 20-30 years, the Christian population of Iraq has dramatically diminished from 1.3 million. Today, there are a mere 300,000 left in the country. “We represent the roots of the Christian faith for all the world and the existence of the church in the Middle East is crucial to the survival of the Christian faith.”
Please join in praying with our brothers and sisters. Felicity