An Answer to Prayers: The Amazing, Heartwarming Rescue and Restoration of Persecuted Christians from Iraq
The world has been watching in terror as ISIS has been carrying out its barbaric atrocities throughout Iraq and Syria. As ISIS has taken more and more ground, city after city is abandoned as its residents flee for safety. When ISIS gave them an ultimatum, convert or die, the Christians chose to flee. For the Christians fleeing, the city of Qaraqosh, Erbil was the city of refuge. Father Douglas is in charge of Mar Aliyah and the one, like a shepherd, who has been overseeing 560 refugees in Erbil. ABC News’s 20/20 sat down with Father Douglas. Considering Erbil is less than an hour drive from the fighting, the immediate awareness of neighboring security threats came to mind. “How concerned are you about the security situation? How concerned are the people that live here?” Father Douglas responds with a staggering soberness, “Do you think that we have choices? We don’t have choices here. I’m surprised how my people still exist here.” The refugees have been there for 15 months.
The stories begin to be pieced together about the events that unfolded just moments ago: the mass exodus of people fleeing for their lives, leaving their homes. Father Douglas received these with open arms. “When people arrived, they were completely lost and confused. They were refusing even to eat. Cause they say, ‘I lost everything. Why should I live?’” When the refugees arrived in Erbil, they were sleeping on the ground, then in tents, now in metal containers, called “caravans”. At the center of these caravans is what brings strength to everyone, a tent with the words, “Home is Where Jesus IS”.Inside this tent is the Nativity Scene of Jesus’ birth, with a Christmas Tree neighboring the tent.
One may think that all hope is lost. According to Father Douglas, this is far from the truth. His words capture the very heartbeat of what has transpired, “They took our houses and we became one family. They took our churches and now we became one Church. Look to our faces, actually we took from them everything”
With the help of Johnnie Moore and the Cradle Fund, Glenn Beck, The Blaze, and Mercury One these refugees have a place to go next. Nearly $12 Million was raised in order carry out the strategic, and risky undertaking of gathering as many of these refugees as possible, and getting them to safety, outside of Iraq. With their strategic experience and knowledge, Joseph and Michelle Assad, are spearheading the task of carrying out the operation.
Just some of the obstacles that stand in the way of Joseph and Michelle are nothing to wink at; “Getting Visas, securing a charter plane, and negotiating with their host country: Slovakia.” Because of the rising refusal to allow immigration, The Assad’s vetted those in the refugee camp themselves. “Experts in anti-terrorism, begin an intensive security investigation of every member of every family…. Of the 560 refugees sheltered at Father Douglas’s Church, 149 cleared the security check for Group 1.”
As this integral plan begins to come together, a myriad of emotions can not only be seen, but surely felt, as the joy of leaving the refugee camp is met with the harsh reality of having to say goodbye to those remaining. As bags are beginning to get packed, the journey is not over as numerous delays and lingering threats pepper their journey. Watch this heartfelt journey as you watch these brothers and sisters of the Church, travel from bus, to plane, back to bus, and eventually arrive in the welcome arms of Slovakia humanity, and so much more. Also shared in this segment: Qaraqosh Myriam, immigrants, Radical Islam, fleeing, Visas, ISIS, Turkey, Russia, Erbil Airport, crisis, miracles, and prayers. John and Steve shared in this segment.