Iraq: Teenage Boy Shares Struggle of Being a Christian in ISIS-Controlled Area
Veronica NeffingerReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2017 Jan 09
Ismail was 14-years-old when ISIS militants overran the village of Bartella, about nine miles from Mosul, where he lived with his mother.
The pair was forced to convert to Islam or be killed. They hid that they were Christians, but one day the militants discovered that Ismail was still wearing a necklace bearing a cross, identifying him as a Christian. He was severely beaten and made to memorize portions of the Quran.
Ismail and his mother saw many others beaten and killed. They even witnessed a group of children executing prisoners and a woman being stoned to death.
After two years living under this violence, Ismail and his mother were able to escape. They are now living in Erbil and are being assisted by humanitarian aid workers.
Ismail regrets that he was forced to pretend he converted to Islam.
"Yes, I am embarrassed for having had to profess Islam," he said.
ISIS has since been driven out of Bartella, but the town is not yet habitable. Although ISIS’ presence in the region is diminishing, the small number of Christians who remain still face daily risks.
"I was amazed by their determination and commitment to the people of Barterlla and the surrounding region; of their commitment to be a continued witness in that area,” stated Simon Barrington, the executive director of Samaritan’s Purse, which is providing aid to Christians in the region. "There are huge risks for them in doing that, but they were very determined."
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 9, 2017