Editor's note: In the reflection below, a young Christian from Mosul writes about the takeover of her hometown by the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the recent international support shown through the #WeAreN campaign on social media. She has been living in the safer Kurdistan Region in the northern part of Iraq for the past few years and works with refugee relief efforts supported by Open Doors International as Mosul's remaining Christians flee north.
I can't believe what's happening now. And it's all happening all so fast. 2,000 years of Christian history and presence is being destroyed. I am confused and sad. Everybody is. On the news I saw the extremists replaced the cross on our church in Mosul with the black flag of the Islamic State. They are doing a call of Islamic prayer from our church. They have turned it into a mosque.
I can't believe it. I wanted to cry when I saw this on the news. This past weekend, the Islamic State gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum: convert, pay a high tax, leave before Saturday at noon, or die. All Christians chose to leave. This is what we have feared for a long time.
My aunt and her sons were the last of my family to flee from Mosul. They left after the threat of the Islamic State last weekend and are staying with family here in the north now. They are devastated. My aunt kept crying. Her husband died a long time ago, and she has raised her children on her own. She cried, "What do I do now? I have nothing left. They even took my house."
Two other houses of relatives have also been taken. They left one of the houses a while ago. They asked a Muslim neighbor to live in it because they knew it would be protected if a Muslim would live there. But the Islamic State came and stole their house anyhow because somehow they knew it was owned by Christians.
It's a chaotic situation; we don't know what to do or where to go. We have been moving around so much in the past few years. Every time we picked up our belongings and went to the next place. My nephew is 22 years old and was in the middle of his exams when they fled Mosul last weekend. How will he finish his studies now? He is very keen on his studies, and now everything is gone.
That's the general feeling here now: everything is gone. My relatives who fled own nothing anymore. While my niece is happy to take care of her mother and brothers, she needs help from the church. Yesterday my brother went to church to collect mattresses and food for my aunt and her sons and brought them to my niece's house. It's very important to have this support from the church now. The support was given by Open Doors through a partner organization.
Sometimes I feel like crying, but I pray that God gives me strength. Christians in Iraq have shown their support for the most affected Christians by holding gatherings and planning marches.
We also changed our Facebook profile pictures to the letter N for Nasrani, meaning "Christians." In Mosul, this letter was used to mark the Christian houses.
It's encouraging to see that around the world people are supporting us. We are still proud to be Christians. We will always be Christians.