Ten elderly escapees describe life under ISIS as Iraqi Christians still held by Islamic State ‘against their will’
Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST reports:
More news has emerged about the situation of Christians who are still being detained in Islamic State (otherwise known as ISIS), after ten elderly Christians, some with disabilities, managed to escape. World Watch Monitor (WWM – www.worldwatchmonitor.org) says the group, eight men and two women, were ‘expelled’ by IS militants for refusing to convert to Islam.
They spent two days travelling and arrived in Kirkuk on January 7, an area now under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga Forces, after being forced to leave a temporary residence in Mosul.
WWM reported the group had been living in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, for nearly three months after ISIS militants forced them out of a nursing home in Qaraqosh on October 24, according to a nun Sister Teresa (whose name has been changed for security) who met them.
Refugees soon after arriving in Kirkuk (Courtesy WWM)
Teresa has worked at a monastery in Erbil after also having fled ISIS six months ago when its rebels attacked Qaraqosh in August. She confirmed that militants stole the elderly Christians’ money, jewellry and IDs.
The group told another WWM source working in Erbil that they were pressured to say the Islamic Shahada, which is a spoken confession of faith to become Muslim. Rahel, one of the women from the group said: ‘We did not want to become Muslim; we just wanted to leave.’
Thousands of dollars demanded
Teresa said several Christians are being held against their will throughout the region and that the church is trying to negotiate their release and has already paid ISIS money to set them free: ‘Among them is a 3-year-old girl that ISIS has demanded thousands of dollars to release.’
She estimates about 40 Christians from Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles are still detained in an elderly care home in Mosul. ‘When we were in Qaraqosh, ISIS used to beat us every day with their weapons or hands,’ one of the elderly men told Teresa. ‘They gave us little food. But when we were taken to Mosul, we were held in a hall with other people and there was another hall beside us too and we could hear more people there. They were rounded up and detained as well.’
He continued, ‘One day, a member from ISIS came and called some of our names and said, “Stand up, we will call you soon!” We thought that they will kill us, but later they took us and we asked them, “When are you going to let us leave?” An ISIS member replied – “Not without ransom.”’
Muslim families help
‘They had thrown us out from our villages and our homes, so they could occupy them and then we were all clumped together in a residence in Mosul. We managed to survive thanks to the assistance of some Muslim families, who brought us food and what we needed. Then, at some point, those of the Caliphate told us we could stay there only if we converted to Islam. I refused. If you want, send me away,’ said one of the elders to Agenzia Fides news outlet.
According to an Assyrian news agency, the group had to wait before being allowed into the Kurdish region because all roads have been closed between Mosul and Kirkuk. The group arrived at Alkhaled checkpoint, a contact line between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and ISIS before being granted official approval to enter. On entry they were transferred to the Chaldean Diocese.
Meanwhile, a man and a woman from Mosul, both in their late twenties, met in a camp and are now engaged. They explained that in Mosul they hadn’t known each other, but that their newfound circumstances meant that ‘only a thin mattress wall was separating us from each other.’
Michael Ireland’s link: Mike’s Monitor – http://paper.li/Michael_ASSIST/1410485204
Japanese Christian journalist beheaded by ISIS
ASSIST’s Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis report that Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, beheaded by ISIS in a newly released gruesome video, also happened to be a devout Christian.
Kenji Goto before his beheading
A reporter seasoned in war zones, Goto travelled to Syria hoping that Japan’s pacifist stance would grant him relative safety, unlike other journalists from nations leading airstrikes against ISIS. He failed to take into account this new brand of terrorists is breaking all previous norms, with no apparent limits to their depravity.
‘You, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah’s grace, are an Islamic caliphate with authority and power, an entire army thirsty for you blood,’ a masked militant says in the video while holding a knife to Goto’s neck.
Focusing on the broken in spirit
In his reporting, Goto focused on the human cost and suffering of war, not on who was winning or losing. An Associated Press report quoted his former pastor, Hiroshi Tamura, who cited his Christian faith for inspiring his reporting. Goto accepted Jesus in 1997, which was somewhat rare considering only two percent of the population of Japan is Christian. Christ’s call to reach the poor and broken in sprit seemed to motivate his journalism.
‘I have seen horrible places and have risked my life,’ Goto told Christian Today. ‘I know that somehow God will always save me.’ But instead he joined the ranks of Christian martyrs who have given their lives for a higher cause – the cause of Christ. Terrorists may have taken his physical life, but they could not rob his soul of heaven’s joys.
While he focused on refugees, poverty and innocent victims of war, his reporting also yearned for a world of peace and wellbeing, according to his mother, Junko Ishido.
Goto, 47, travelled to Syria in October 2014 to report on the war and to liberate an old friend, Haruna Yukawa, who was first captured by ISIS in August when he was peddling arms. Instead of negotiating Yukawa’s release, he himself was grabbed by the terror group. At first the twosome appeared in a video on Jan. 20 demanding $200 million from the Japanese government – a sum equal to that committed by Japan in non-military aid to countries fighting ISIS.
Then Saturday’s video appeared. It featured a black-clad terrorist speaking in a British accent – identified as the same ‘Jihadi John’ who oversaw the beheading of US journalist James Foley. Goto, dressed in orange prison-like garb, was on his knees and remained without speaking in an open desert.
Nightmare for Japan begins
The ISIS spokesman called out Japan’s premier: ‘Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found, So let the nightmare for Japan begin.’
Goto’s wife gave birth to their second child in October and he had an older daughter from a previous marriage. He was a compassionate free-lance journalist who focused on ordinary people in times of extraordinary suffering. He covered the diamond wars of Sierra Leone and the post tsunami regions of northern Japan.
‘Kenji lives on – in all our hearts, in our daily work, every time you smile with those around you, you will be sure to remember that big smile Kenji always gave us,’ wrote Taku Nishimae, a New York filmmaker, as quoted in Yahoo News. Yes, and he lives on in heaven too.
A truly unreached people group hear of Jesus
In Jharkhand there is a people group of tree worshipers. Their lifestyle, culture and traditions are different from other groups. They are rough and are very strict in their beliefs.
Pastor Bijay, a visionary, ventured among this people group and shared the gospel with them. As he and his team were sharing the gospel they were amazed to discover that these people had never heard of Jesus before.
This increased the team’s desire to know these people more closely. They noticed a boy staring at them while they were speaking. After inquiring they learned that Binod (Not real name, for security reasons) was unable to walk due to severe back pain and had been bedridden for a few weeks.
Pastor Bijay took the opportunity to interact with the boy and exhorted him to believe in Jesus who could heal him. Prayers were offered. This was a new thing to all the people. They all watched our team amazingly as if they waited for an angel to appear. But the Lord of lords had answered the prayers of his saints as Binod experienced a miraculous touch in his body and he was healed instantly.
He felt at ease and showed positive signs of walking. The incident impacted the family and they all accepted the Lordship of Jesus in their lives.
A healed Binod has given his life for the service of the Lord and has joined our Gumla Transformation Centre for studies. Now he and his family are the only Christian family in the group and have opened their house for fellowship. However Pastor Bijay is hopeful and is expecting a great breakthrough among this people group in the days to come.
Prayer is requested for Empart Church Planters such as Pastor Bijay? Empart link: 1300 EMPART / http://au.empart.org/
‘God bless this Oklahoma police officer’ declares local publication
Quoting Matthew 7:12 (Message): ‘Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them,’ she writes…
With all of the negative attention that law enforcement officers receive, I was touched by this article from an Oklahoma newspaper. Officer Chad Burden truly is a hero.
This is a snippet from the Tulsa World (http://www.tulsaworld.com/) about a Broken Arrow police officer who went above and beyond the call of duty…
God bless Broken Arrow Police Officer Chad Burden. Called to a Wal-Mart recently to investigate a shoplifting complaint, he found that the woman being detained had been caught trying to take a $17 coat for her three-year-old daughter (because she was short the amount needed to purchase the coat). The high that day was 32 degrees Fahrenheit .
Wal-Mart declined to prosecute, and Officer Burden bought the coat for the little girl. January is Oklahoma’s coldest month and he also saw to it that the mother got a pair of shoes that she needed so she wouldn’t have to wear sandals.
Thank you Officer Burden (left) for your example.
Carol Round is an author, columnist, lover of people, grandmother of five, encourager and obedient owner of a spoiled-rotten dog called Taco. We recommend her Inspirational Thoughts for Daily Living link: http://carolaround.com/
The power of the meek when little ones pray
Author and publisher Hope Flinchbaugh is enthusiastic about this Gospel for Asia story.
The children in the GFM/Bridge of Hope video had formed a prayer team, praying every day because they wanted to.
I was in tears as I watched this ‘No Longer a Slumdog’ video (link below). Why? I just love catching such glimpses of children going after God and the lessons we can learn.
The truth is that if only we adults will stand back and get out of their way, we’d find that children can teach us how to pray, how to love, and how to touch God!
The Gospel for Asia text that accompanied the video outlines the story…
Dying without hope
When you teach a child that the God who loves them unconditionally answers prayer, miracles can happen. Sagan and his friends learned of the power of prayer from watching their Bridge of Hope teachers. Soon they were praying for those in need, while watching God answer. See what happens when they hear of a young boy with a terminal condition in a neighbouring village.
With no money for medical treatment, and too far from a hospital for much help, a young boy was plagued with a brain tumour pushing him towards death.
All hope for recovery seemed lost. Little did his family know, there is a Bridge of Hope centre in the next village where the children had learned the power of prayer.
The faith of children and prayer defeats death
The children in the Bridge of Hope centre joined together and started a prayer group! Through this prayer group, they also began praying for people in their village and they started getting healed!
After a little while, the centre staff brought the children to the next village to pray for the sick boy. Praying fervently, these children returned day after day and witnessed Jesus’ healing touch on this dying boy. His brain tumour went!
Giving children a reason to pray and the chance to learn about Jesus’ love
By supporting Bridge of Hope children, you are teaching them the power of prayer. Giving them hope in Jesus, these children will take hold of the truth and share it with any who will listen.
Open the door to multiple villages through their children encourages Gospel for Asia, PO Box 3587 Village Fair, Toowoomba. Qld 4350 / (07) 4632 4131/ firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.gospelforasia.org.au/
These children are among the most poor and needy of Asia – they who go hungry every day. A life can be changed forever by sponsoring a child and bringing hope for only $35 (USD) a month through GFA’s Bridge of Hope.
Hope Flinchbaugh, a prolific author, has a heart for Asia. Hope’s personal blog of inspirational writings link: www.liftjesuscross.com. One of Hope’s popular novels is I’ll Cross the River (See Resources).
STUDIO CITY, CA
‘Hollywood is the world’s most influential mission field’
Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST, interviewed Karen Covell, is a woman on a mission – to get Christians to pray for those working in Hollywood.
Mission field and spiritual battle
So why, I asked her, should we pray for Hollywood, and she replied firmly, ‘Because Hollywood is not Sodom and Gomorrah Hollywood – it’s Nineveh. Hollywood is the world’s most influential mission field. Everything that comes out of Hollywood touches people all across the globe and we need to pray for those decision makers; those talents and cultural influencers, who are touching people groups all over the world.’
Dan Wooding and Karen Covell (Photo: Tim Hathaway)
Karen is a producer, co-owner of Joint Effort – a film production company – and co-owner with her husband Jim, of JC Productions, a music production company. She has had extensive experience in producing TV specials, documentaries, and children’s programming. She added, ‘I believe there’s a spiritual battle going on and that why the church either hates Hollywood or is afraid of it. And I want people to pray against the enemy from stopping us and realising we can change the world by praying for Hollywood.’
As Founding Director of Hollywood Prayer Network, Karen speaks and teaches around the country to people of faith, encouraging them to not hate Hollywood or boycott its products, but instead to pray for the people in the entertainment industry.
Committing to Christ
Karen leading in prayer before the event (Photo: Tim Hathaway)
Karen, who bubbles with enthusiasm in all that she does, told me that she originally came from Chicago to go to school as the University of Southern California (USC) and said that during that time in 1977, she gave her life to Christ in her freshman year because of her roommate, Debbie.
‘She was lovingly just putting up with me all year, answering my questions, and telling me about God,’ said Karen. ‘I asked all kinds of questions and I was very resistant. But then, by the end of my freshman year, I was walking through the campus and I suddenly said, “God, I want what Debbie has. Would you come into my life?” I kind of made a bargain with him. I told him, however, that there were three things I didn’t want to do: to tell anybody about him, be a missionary, and I did not want to go to Africa, but other than that, I told him he could have all “of me.”’
Three reasons for starting Hollywood Prayer Network
‘One was to change the attitude of the church,’ Karen explained. ‘The second was to pray for Christians coming out here because [often] they were not supported by their family or their church; and it was really hard for them to maintain their faith and to work in Hollywood. The third was to pray for the non-believers in Hollywood; the decision makers who didn’t know Jesus. I have a real heart to reach the people who don’t know the Lord. And the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood invited me to come under their wing.’
I wondered what she thought about the Christian movies that had been coming out over the years, and she said, ‘I honestly think there is an ebb and tide of Christian movies coming in and out of Hollywood. There were a lot that came at the time of Cecil B DeMille, such as The Ten Commandments, and Ben-Hur. There were a lot of Christian-themed movies and then they disappeared for quite a few decades. The church turned away from Hollywood and then even hated all that came out of the studios and had no interest in them. I also think that there are trends and that now when we’re doing big epics with people looking for stories. And interestingly enough now, for decades people are starting to do more movies based on books, and when you want to do a big epic, a good book to turn to is the Bible.’
To learn more about this fine work go to: www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org
Nearly 9.5 million hear the gospel through BGEAO
Dan Wooding also reports that more than 1.6 million people have indicated making a decision for Christ through Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) outreaches in 2014.
In addition, said a BGEA news release, the gospel has been shared with nearly 9.5 million people, in every nation in the world (with the only possible exception being North Korea, where information cannot be verified).
Billy and Franklin Graham
‘Our hearts overflow with gratitude to God for all he has done and is doing, and we are eager to keep pressing forward as he continues to open doors,’ wrote Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in a recent letter on www.BillyGraham.org
In 2015, BGEA is planning major evangelistic crusades on five continents, in countries that include Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Philippines, and Tanzania, as well as in several places in the United States. Search for Jesus continues to grow and expand in its ability to reach people online. My Hope will continue in the US, Canada and the UK and plans are in development for additional countries.
The BGEA proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. For more info, visit www.BillyGraham.org