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Nineveh Plains Christians face continued challenges

Islamic State destruction_April 2017

Iraq (MNN) — ISIS was defeated in Iraq 18 months ago. However, the Nineveh Plains has another problem—the local Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Shiite militia.

Nineveh Plains Christians

To the north of the Nineveh Plains sits the Kurds, and to the east is Iran. To the south and west is the rest of Iraq. Due to the geography, Christians in this region have historically been trapped between the three forces. Now, the militia in this area has taken it upon itself to enforce the rule of the land.

Kurdish soldiers prepare for battle outside Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
(File photo, Boris Niehaus, Wikimedia obtained via Christian Aid Mission)

In efforts to disentangle the militia from Iranian influence, Iraq’s prime minister recently issued an executive order. The order is meant to integrate the militia with Iraq’s formal armed forces, but it could end up impacting local Christians.

“You have this central government that has never stood up for this minority that is lived there for centuries. So, whenever there’s a problem with ISIS or whatever, it always seems to start in the same area, that’s no accident. It’s because the central government is either weak or is unable or unwilling to stand up for the Christian minorities,” Dr. David Curry with Open Doors USA explains.

“These militias gain in strength. They want to take over territory, or they become a law unto themselves. So, it’s continually happened, what we what we’d like to see is for the Iraqi government to stand up for the Christian minorities.”

Since ISIS was pushed out of the area, some Christians have returned to their homes. However, the Christian population in the region is a fraction of what it was before ISIS. Curry believes some Christians are postponing their return while waiting to see if the central government will protect Christians in the Nineveh Plains. They also want to determine that ISIS fighters really are clear of the area.

Responding With Prayer

“I would love to see believers praying for the Iraqi believers because they really are salt and light in a very difficult area,” Curry urges.

pray; prayer

(Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash)

“Their strength, their courage is amazing. But we need to pray for their boldness [and] their security. We want to see Christians in Iraq and Iran, throughout the Middle East, strong in their faith, able to share their faith and live in peace.”

Pray for the Iraqi believers’ strength, boldness, and safety. Also, pray for God’s Word to go forth in this region and change lives for the better. Pray for this area to know the Gospel and respond to it.

Header image was taken in April 2017 during a UNESCO mission to Nineveh, Iraq, which was heavily destroyed and excavated by ISIS. Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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