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ICC Note: Iraqi Christians have kept the faith, and inspire others to do so as well, says a local priest. Some have slowly begun the return home and the process of rebuilding, despite the numerous difficulties which make life on the Nineveh Plains challenging. Many will never return home. Their faith remains strong, but they see no possibilities for a life in the Plains after the defeat of ISIS.

04/29/2018 Iraq (Rome Reports) – Christians from the Nineveh Plains celebrated Easter like this… in churches still burned by the Islamic State, like this one in Qaraqosh.

They also celebrated like this… without fear of walking once again along the streets they had to flee when the terrorist group came to kill them.

Little by little, they’re returning to their homes after the forced exile to which they were subjected, though not everyone is willing to run the risk of being threatened again by another Daesh.

“The problem is that many have still not returned. For example, in Karamles. It’s a Christian town. There were 800 Christian families, and only 300 have been able to come back. Many have not. What’s worse, an estimated 300 will not return. In other words, a town of 800 families will become one of only 500.”

Fr. Luis Montes, a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, obtained these images that show the remnants of the disaster once the terrorists had fled. They destroyed everything in their path, focusing primarily on anything related to Christianity.

Despite having little left to return to, as there are entire towns reduced to rubble, Christians are returning. The wound is deep, though. There have been too many years of suffering.

“We hear them talk and cry, but they always end with a message of gratitude to God. They realize God has helped them, and even in the saddest cases of people whose relatives were killed, they seek God’s providence. Their faith is not in question. The problem is that all senseless wars have been caused by human interests, and these people have lost their trust.”

Fr. Montes, from Iraq, remains active on social networks in groups like Amigos de Irak, SOS Cristianos en Siria or Nazarenos perseguidos. Thanks to people worldwide who contact him, he knows the suffering of these Christians serves as an example for many.

“We don’t need to help them keep their faith. They help us to strengthen our faith. They don’t consider themselves heroes. They believe they’re people who did what they had to. This example so strong, so full of Jesus Christ’s love, of not evening considering renouncing Christ, is reaping many benefits in the West, in the people who are hearing their stories.”

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]