Displaced Iraqi Christians have finally received the go-ahead to return to their native northern Iraq. Yet the homecoming isn’t exactly one you’d picture as a Hallmark greeting card or Disney-inspired scene.
In fact, according to a recent CBN News report of the actual arrival, upon the citizens return to their now liberated village in Iraq’s Karamlis, the scene which greeted them was one of vast devastation. Local Saint Addai Church, its bells having tolled their first time in over two years, received the brunt of malicious ISIS attacks, and showed the physical signs of brutality (charred remains of torched prayer benches, remnants of tombs long since disrespected and scarred, a now-headless likeness of the sacred Virgin Mary, mountains of splintered glass shards, and more), mirroring much of the darkness of what the hearts of the returning parishioners who had gathered to worship here Sunday now felt within.
And despite that darkness, these Iraqi Christians gathered to lift their voices in unison, singing hymns and hearing a message of light—God’s light. Saint Addai’s Reverend, Thabet Habib, assured his flock of the village’s future, saying, "I stress again in the midst of this destruction, that God is always giving us light to spread peace and love and rebuilding.”
After falling to ISIS in August 2014, many village residents were displaced, their homes were destroyed, and they were forced to live in nearby Mosul in refugee camps, with myriad others having fled even further abroad. One former village resident, Sahir Shamoun, upon returning to check on his home in Karamlis, explained that he feels “great sadness.” Shamoun, now having been displaced five times, further explains his trepidation of a full-time relocation to the village, stating that, considering the minority ratio of Christians now living in the Middle East, “I’m not sure when or if I'll be back. I think of my children. Will they have a future here?"
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 15, 2016