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Hope for the Middle East: 8,000 families return to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains as houses are repaired

15 May 2018

Over 8,000 Christian families have returned to their villages in the Nineveh Plains in the last two months, and nearly 800 houses have been repaired thanks to Open Doors supporters.

Churches play a key role in encouraging families to return. So thanks to your generosity, Open Doors’ local partners are financially supporting churches as they help those who want to return by giving grants for repairing their homes. Thanks to you, 795 houses have been restored in the villages in the Nineveh Plains.

According to one of our partners, some families are waiting to move home until the end of the school year: “People who are still living in displacement are waiting 'til the end of the school year in June. So we expect in the summer a rise of the number of returnees.”

‘But then your help came’

Faraj Toma Youssef’s family is one of the 318 families in Qaraqosh who received help from Open Doors’ local partners in Iraq to repair their houses – both with financial support and practical advice on the renovation process.

The help enabled Faraj’s family to repair broken windows and ceilings, fix the bathroom, repair the holes in the walls and paint over all the bad memories of self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). They even had to stop up a tunnel that had been dug to enable IS fighters to cross from one side of the road to the other unseen.

Faraj said, “The first time I came back to Qaraqosh and saw the huge mess I said to myself, ‘It will be very, very difficult to return here if nobody will help me.’ But then your help came, and I was able to repair my house completely for my family. Because of that we are able to live here again. This is a new birth. For me and my family. Thank you very much.

“Without any support, Christianity might disappear completely from this country. That would be such a shame. Iraq without Christian is like a garden without roses,” Faraj said.

It costs between £1,000 and £4,000 to repair a home in Iraq. For example, £60 could pay for a water tank on a bomb damaged roof.

Keep bringing hope to the Middle East

However, while many Christians like Faraj are courageously choosing to stay in Iraq and want to rebuild their communities, others are still concerned about the future for Christians in Iraq; while IS have laregly been driven from Iraq, the army is still sporadically attacked by IS jihadists in some areas, and the Iraqi elections bring further uncertainty about the future. Partners of Open Doors in Iraq have reported that around 50 families have left Qaraqosh and the surrounding villages in the last two months. Many of these families have finally received their visa to move abroad and have taken the opportunity find a safer place to live.

For those who wish to stay, it is vital that they have the continuing prayers and support of their global church family, to keep their hopes for the future of Iraq alive. It's the support of people like you that has made it possible for Faraj and hundreds like him to return and repair their homes. And thanks to the thousands of people who signed the Hope for the Middle East petition, the UK government has recently announced that it is going to release funding to involve minorities in reconciliation projects in Iraq - a direct answer to one of the calls of the petition!

Please continue to pray for our church family in Iraq - if you haven't already got one, why not order a free Hope for the Middle East wristband to remind you to pray? You can also send a message of encouragement to our church family in the Middle East, to let them know that you are praying for them, and that they are not alone or forgotten by their global church family.

Please pray:

  • For Faraj and his family, that they would feel happy and safe in their home
  • That those waiting to return at the end of the school year would be able to move safely and would quickly settle back in to their home villages
  • For Open Doors partners as they rebuild homes, that there would be enough funds to cope with the demand
  • For protection for our church family in Iraq, and stability following the Iraqi elections.

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