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Iraq: 300 Christians celebrate Easter in liberated Bartella
16 April 2017
300 Christians were able to celebrate Easter in their village, Bartella, about 12km from Mosul, for the first time in three years on Saturday 15 April.
Although Bartella has been liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, noone has returned to live there yet - much of the village has been destroyed. This includes the church; parts are burned, crosses and statues are smashed, and there is a big gaping hole in one of the walls where a big cross was once part of the construction.
But about 300 people returned to celebrate Easter, organised by Father Yacoub. While the bells in the clock tower ring, Father Yacoub says, "This means a lot to me, after all these years we now are celebrating Easter here. That is very hopeful."
He speaks about the resurrection of Jesus and the hope it gives: "Jesus can come into our hearts and that will comfort us, but coming to their homes is not possible for the people, so that is difficult for many. Of course, the message during the celebration this morning will be about hope, also for people to return."
BRING HOPE TO THE MIDDLE EAST
By praying, giving and speaking out as part of the Hope for the Middle East campaign, Open Doors supporters are helping to keep hope alive for our church family in Iraq.
Open Doors local partners have provided vital aid for tens of thousands of displaced families, and are working to provide long-term support to our brothers and sisters as they begin to rebuild their lives, including helping families who wish to return to the Nineveh plain to rebuild their homes, and starting small businesses to give people the dignity of supporting their own families - like this sweet factory.
Here are three things you can do to support your church family in Iraq:
- Pray. Order a free Pray for ME resource pack to help you lead others in prayer for the church in Iraq and Syria.
- Give. It costs between £1,000 and £4,000 to set up a family in sustainable employment or to repair their home. For example, £60 could pay for a water tank on a bomb damaged roof.
- Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, asking for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, which will be presented to the UN Secretary General in December. If you've already signed it, download a copy and ask others to sign it too.
- Praise God that Christians in Iraq are continuing to put their faith and hope in Jesus
- For provision for displaced families as they begin to rebuild their lives and consider trying to return to their destroyed villages
- For wisdom for Open Doors partners as they continue to support displaced Christians.
More News from Iraq:
- Sweet factory provides security and hope for Christian families
- Christians return to burned out churches to celebrate Palm Sunday
- Stone factory brings hope as battle for Mosul continues
- Displaced Christians celebrate Christmas as they prepare to return home
- Martin returns to Karamles
Find out more about persecution in Iraq.