'Religicide' in Iraq
But an evangelical church that has distributed food monthly to 700 families in Amman for the past four years said it recently had to drastically limit its outreach. Because funding has run dry, the church can now offer aid to just 20 of the neediest families.
Education has been another obstacle for the refugees, who until recently were barred from attending public schools in Jordan. Some refugee children struggle to fit into similar age classes because of gaps in their school attendance. Others have been traumatized by events that took place at their schools in Iraq.
One father said his 7-year-old son's Baghdad school came under a grenade attack that killed two of his classmates. Though safely in Amman now, the son tells his father he refuses to attend school: "No, Daddy. I can't because it will be bombed." The man, a Christian convert from Islam who asked not to be identified, said his son has nightmares, unable to forget the blood he has seen.
Most if not all Christian refugees believe returning to their ancestral homeland is impossible and see no other option than to resettle in the West. For the most part, Christians are not given preferential treatment by countries taking in Iraqi refugees.
Two exceptions have been France and Germany. France received some 730 Christians following the death of Archbishop Rahho and scores more following the church attack in October 2010. Numbers for Germany are unavailable.
And at least one Iraqi Christian has vowed to stay and fight on. "These attacks express the contempt and hatred of terrorist organizations for Christians," said Yonadam Kanna, one of a handful of Christian lawmakers in Iraq's 325-member parliament. "Iraq is our country, and we won't leave."
Dale Gavlak is a journalist based in Jordan. John Stott Ministries has given a grant to Christianity Today to support reporting on international issues.
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CT also posted a story on Iraqi Christians struggling to find refuge in Europe.
The United States Needs an Ambassador for Religious Freedom Now | The Obama administration must send a clear signal to Egypt and the Middle East that they must embrace religious freedom in full. (February 8, 2011)
Recovering Church History: Exile from Babylon | The Iraqi Christian community, now nearly gone, was the church's center for a millennium. (December 31, 2008)
Sins and Sorrows Grow in Mosul | For Iraq's Christians, a fearful Christmas amid shootings and a worsening humanitarian crisis. (December 15, 2008)