Jaffar’s maimed leg throbbed as he sat awake in his room in the middle of the night. The 23-year-old Iraqi felt the burden of his loneliness and depression like a physical weight on his shoulders. His friend was dead, and his faith was gone. In desperation, he challenged the Creator of the universe: “If you are there, show yourself!” Exhausted from pain, frustration and weeping, Jaffar finally fell asleep. It was then, he said, that he experienced an amazingly detailed dream. Jaffar said he dreamed that he was perched on a narrow bridge wide enough for only one. Beneath him was an abyss of smoke and fire, radiating heat upward. He could hear the screams of others behind him as the bridge crumbled beneath their feet and they plunged into the gulf below. Terrified, he took one careful step after another. After reaching a door at the end of the bridge, he knocked and a man in a white garment opened the door. “Who are you?” Jaffar asked. The man told him he was the owner of the door and invited him in. He warned Jaffar, however, that if he stepped through the door, he could never go back out.

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Nader, 17, grew up in a Muslim home, but he rejected Islam and became an atheist. After some time, he began to have visions of Christ, and he sought someone to help him understand his dreams. He searched online for answers to his questions and discovered a website for those who have had visions of Jesus in dreams.

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Categories: iCommitToPray

In 2014, the world was reminded of the threat posed by Islamic extremists when the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group overtook Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, in a matter of hours. Within a few weeks, ISIS had also claimed areas surrounding Mosul — areas that have been historically home to Christian populations. The ISIS terrorists gave Christians a choice: they could convert to Islam, pay a high tax, leave or be killed. Most Christians fled the area within days. When ISIS declared a caliphate over regions of Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram declared its own caliphate in Nigeria after seizing the mostly-Christian city of Gwoza on Aug. 24, 2014. Between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 11,500 Christians were killed, 3,500 injured and thousands more displaced as Boko Haram has advanced through Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in northern Nigeria. Throughout this time, VOM has worked to meet the needs of injured and displaced Nigerian Christians. After each attack, medical workers are dispatched to document the needs of the injured and help get them the best possible medical care. One Nigerian Christian we helped in 2014 is John Yakubu. After surviving multiple attacks by Boko Haram in the Gwoza area of

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Rebekah and her family climbed into the small vehicle that VOM had given her two years earlier after her husband was martyred for his Christian witness. Under cover of darkness, the family turned their backs on their home and began driving up the road to Kurdistan. Thousands of others had fled along that same road, many walking for 10 to 14 hours to escape the horrors of the Islamist militia known as the Islamic State (ISIS). After capturing the city of Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014, the militants gave all Christians until July 19 to convert to Islam, pay a high tax, leave the city or be killed. Thousands chose to flee, leaving everything they owned behind. Along the way, families encountered roadblock after roadblock of ISIS soldiers guarding their recently conquered territory. The soldiers robbed them of everything, taking wedding rings and ripping passports in half before the horrified owners’ eyes. In some cases, soldiers told people to strip, and then robbed them of even their clothing. Flight from Mosul By God’s grace, Rebekah’s family made the journey safely. They had fled to Erbil, in Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq that ISIS had not yet penetrated. But Rebekah

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Infidel, Smuggler, Pastor How an encounter with the Bible transformed a militant Iraqi Kurd into a passionate evangelist. Seventeen-year-old Nemrut devoured books. He was always looking for something new to read, but few books in the Kurdish language were available in his dusty Iraqi town. One day he spotted something new in a local bookstore — a Kurdish translation of the Gospel of Luke. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he was intrigued. When he asked about the book, he was disappointed to learn that the bookstore owner wouldn’t part with it because it was his only copy. Determined to read the book, Nemrut made a deal with the owner to pay a lending fee so he could borrow the book and return it when he was done. He read until 4 a.m. the next morning. “This was the beginning of loving Jesus,” he said. Luke’s Gospel had planted a seed, but Nemrut still had much to learn. While he wasn’t particularly committed to Islam, Nemrut had been born into a Muslim family. Like many Kurds, he held that faith lightly, feeling more loyalty to family and tribe than to religion. Zealous for an independent Kurdish homeland, Nemrut joined

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Hani was imprisoned by ISIS because of his Christian heritage. But it was only after his escape that he came to know Jesus. As members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) eagerly broke their Ramadan fast for the day by digging into large, round plates of rice, Hani, his brother and several other prisoners started running. They ran as hard as they could, hoping to reach the cover of some nearby hills while their captors ate. After reaching the hills, they called their families on a phone one of the prisoners had managed to conceal. “Tell the Peshmerga not to shoot!” they urged. “There are seven of us.” Their families then alerted the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia protecting the city of Qaraqosh from ISIS invaders. Hani and the others knew the land well, and soon they were crossing the Peshmerga lines into the arms of their waiting families. Their 26-day ordeal was over. Kidnapped by ISIS Hani was a proud citizen of Qaraqosh, a Christian city about 20 miles from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. The 50,000 Chaldean Christians in Qaraqosh still spoke Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic language of Jesus, and traced their Christian heritage back to the first

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Categories: Stories from the Field

When asked what she prays for, 11-year-old Myriam Behnam was quick to answer. “When I pray, I pray that God might help us to go back home,” she said, “and that the peace of God might come all over Iraq. And also, may God forgive ISIS.” Myriam, her 10-year-old sister, Zamarod, and their parents, Walid and Alice, fled their home near Mosul, Iraq, more than a year ago when the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) gained control of Mosul and the Nineveh plains. Since that time, the family has lived in the northern Kurdistan Region along with more than 1 million other displaced Iraqis. Life is not easy in the refugee camp, but Myriam doesn’t harbor any bitterness. “I will only ask God to forgive [ISIS],” she said in a March 2015 interview with SAT-7 TV. “Why should they be killed?” Myriam’s surprising forgiveness of ISIS reached millions after being broadcast on the Christian satellite TV station. Although it’s difficult to know how many people watched the interview on SAT-7, its five channels reach an audience of 15 million in North Africa and the Middle East. In addition, the video was copied digitally numerous times and went viral on social media,

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Categories: Stories from the Field

The evening of August 20, 2014, Abu Fadi received an urgent call from his mother. “Abu, come for me,” she cried from the Iraqi city of Mosul. Before he could respond, an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter grabbed the phone and asked Abu to confirm that he was her son. “Yes, I am her son,” Abu replied. “What is the problem?” “Today, come and take your mother and sister,” the fighter said. “If you will not come today, we will throw them in the street. Either they will be Muslim or we will leave them in the street. You just come and take them.” The ISIS fighter took all the family’s money and belongings, closed up their house and painted the Arabic letter “N” on the home, indicating Nassarah, or “Christian”. Knowing he couldn’t enter Mosul as a Christian, Abu asked a Muslim friend to bring his elderly mother and sister — both in wheelchairs — to his nearby city, which had recently come under ISIS control. Once there, the two women joined Abu and his wife and they drove toward Bashiqa in the north. However, shortly after starting their journey, their car was stopped at an ISIS checkpoint by fighters

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Categories: Stories from the Field