The date 31 May 2006 is seared on the memory of “Dwura”, an Iraqi Christian housewife. It was on that day her brother-in-law was gunned down by terrorists in an industrial area of Mosul, the ancient Biblical city of Nineveh. The terrorists asked him for his identity card and, when they saw he was a Christian, shot him in the head and chest. “I have a death certificate certifying his martyrdom,” says Dwura.
“We lived in fear”
“From this date onwards we lived in fear,” she continues. Nevertheless the family hung on in their town in the Plains of Nineveh, a region where Christians have lived for nearly two millennia. But things only got worse for Christians, as Islamic State (IS) terrorists began to establish themselves and move out across Iraq. In August 2014, Dwura’s town fell to IS fighters and the family fled for their lives, with tens of thousands of other Christians from the Plains of Nineveh.
“Christians lost hope”
Two years later the Iraqi army freed Dwura’s town from IS control, but the family home had been destroyed. So had the homes of Dwura’s brothers and sisters.
“After the liberation our areas were exposed to a tough occupation by the militias,” says Dwura. “Christians lost hope because they couldn’t take any steps without approval from the militias.” One of Dwura’s daughters became seriously affected mentally, due to the anti-Christian pressure – all she had ever known in her young life.
Eventually Dwura and her husband felt they had no option but to take their three children and leave their homeland Iraq to start a new life somewhere they could live freely as Christians. With visas from the Australian government and financial help from Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens, they flew to Australia a few days ago.
Over 100 air tickets issued since March – praise God
Dwura and her family are amongst many Middle Eastern Christians whom Barnabas Fund is enabling to re-settle in Australia, by helping with their airfares. This is the mission of our Operation Safe Havens – to rescue desperate Christians, suffering extreme persecution, and bring them to places of safety and freedom.
In March we set ourselves a prayerful target of issuing 100 air tickets in the next three months to bring persecuted Middle Eastern Christians to Australia. By the end of June, the total number of tickets issued was just over 100. That is 25 families rescued! And Dwura’s family makes it 26.
We are thankful to the Lord, for the generosity of our supporters and for the wisdom of the Australian government for achieving this first target. But all around the world are many more Christians living with violence and persecution, while yearning to see their children grow up in peace and freedom. With your help, Operation Safe Havens can continue to stand ready to help those who feel God’s call to leave their homeland and settle far away.
The typical cost of a ticket from the Middle East to Australia is £675 ($900; €790).
Please pray and donate.