Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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By Amy Penn

9/21/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – She was only three years old, too young to understand the chaos surrounding her or her parents’ struggle because of their faith. She was too young for many things, but she proved old enough to be kept away from her family for three more years, more than half of her young life. ISIS militants kidnapped Christina in 2014 at the age of three and kept her in captivity until the Iraqi coalition liberated her in 2017.

The story of her release captured the media’s attention and people’s hearts. Christina’s freedom and reunification with her family represented the hope that many Iraqis felt, as Mosul and Qaraqosh were liberated. However, once the initial joyous reunion was over, reality proved much more bitter.

The media reported a happy story – long-lost daughter is reunited with family and everyone is doing well. That wasn’t the case. Her father told International Christian Concern (ICC) that “Christina was living in a place where they called her Zainab [a Muslim name]. She is crying to go back to this family because she opened her eyes on them, not us.” Christina didn’t remember her mother or her father. To her, family was the group of Muslims who raised her from ages three to six. Confusion and frustration reigned in Christina’s family. “She has psychological shock. While we were celebrating because she came back, she was just silent and still she is the same.”

To make the transition even more difficult, the media and general population flocked to the now-famous Christina, leaving her confused about all of the mysterious people constantly bothering her. “We are in [a] very bad situation because people are coming to visit her and everybody is not treating her well, like people and children come and touch her hair, lot of people come to take selfies with her and post it on Facebook; actually she is not understanding what’s happening,” complained her father. “She feels that she just been kidnapped again so people and [the] media [are] complicating things more.”

In the midst of the chaos, Christina’s mother and father cannot earn a sustainable income because her father is blind and her mother is paralyzed. They want to disappear from the publicity and try to integrate Christina back into their family, but have nowhere to go. Thanks to the generosity of other organizations, the family had a home for Christina, but nothing to put in it.

ICC was able to visit the family and determine how to best help them. Creating a safe and quiet home for Christina would provide the safety and privacy the family desperately craved to reunite their family. ICC purchased various home goods like beds, mattresses, tables, a freezer, a refrigerator, dishes, blankets, a water pump and more to fill the home.

As Christina’s family realized, the initial celebration of returning home can be silenced by the grim reality that everything at home has changed. “We are excited because of your help, but also, we are excited that Christina is learning our [Christian] language again,” her father rejoiced. Your continued prayers and support provide hope and confidence to families like Christina’s that a better life is possible.