‘Tell them that we Christians exist. We are the bridge between East and West,” said Felomain Nassar-Batshone, program manager, at International Orthodox Christian Charities, Amman, Jordan.
The story never changes. Whenever ISIS terrorists approach an Iraqi or Syrian village, Christians are given a fateful choice: They can stay and pay a tax to ISIS. They can convert to Islam. They can be martyred as Christians. Or, they flee.
We Americans would do well to remind ourselves that these Christians are the original church. They are in the cradle of Christianity. They are from the part of the world where the Good News was born and raised from the dead. These Christians also know that ISIS is but the latest attempt since the 1915 Armenian Genocide to rid the land of its resilient Christian community.
Last summer, they fled with nothing but the clothes on their back. A year later, that’s still all they have. Basim Alqassab, a Nineveh Plain Christian now in Amman, told me, “We live without salaries or hope of return to our homes. Our hearts feel fatigued and distressed with sadness and injustice.”
The only thing certain is their faith. In the last seven months, I have visited the region four times, traveling through northern Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. I have met hundreds of Christians living amidst terrible conditions. In each and every case—where it would be so easy to feel the absence of God—they declare themselves closer to God.
I met with the Jan and Yousef families in northern Amman, where the 14 members of their families live in a small apartment that they cannot afford with zero opportunity to return, work, or emigrate. They are Syrian Orthodox Christians from Mosul, Iraq, and they cannot ...1