ICC Note: A priest in Ankawa, Iraq, despite suffering immense persecution by the Islamic State has opened a school for refugee students. The Mar Elias church has become a refuge for those fleeing the treachery of the Islamic State located just 80 kilometers north. The school is aimed at giving new hope and a good education to confused and angered young people. Students number around 200 at this time.
06/05/2015 Iraq (BosNewsLife) We do not hear much good news for Christians from Iraq nowadays, so I was encouraged to learn about a new school there that, against all odds, is achieving great success in turning angry and confused young refugee kids into enthusiastic students.
It is run by Douglas Bazi, a Chaldean Christian priest, who spoke with me through Skype about his activities.
Bazi confirmed that life isn’t easy for a devoted Christian in Iraq. In fact, he has achieved a degree of renown. He was once kidnapped by Islamists. They used a hammer to break his teeth, his knees and his back. The torment only ended when his church paid a ransom to win his release. But he was forced to spend a year in bed, recovering from his injuries.
He has also been in churches that have been bombed,. And he has seen members of his congregation murdered. He has been urged to leave the country, for his own protection. But he refuses.
Bazi is now a priest at Mar Elias church in a somewhat more secure part of Iraq, in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan. Though just 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Islamic State-controlled Mosul, the region is well protected and the group is not deemed a threat.
His church has a large, sprawling garden, and Christians fleeing the genocide of Islamic State militants have found sanctuary there, living in 120 caravans.
It is among the caravans that he has launched his new school, staffed by volunteers and aimed at giving education – and hope – to some 200 youngsters, and to their parents as well.