Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims alike have suffered under the advance of ISIS -- otherwise known as the Islamic State or Daesh -- a terrorist group which began in 2014 across an area spanning Syria and Iraq. (ISIS refers to this area as the Levant.) Iraqi believers have called Iraq their home for millennia; however, since the takeover attempts of ISIS in recent years, they had almost reached a point of extinction.
Instability from years of political unrest had left the country vulnerable and unable to attain reasonable defence against the insurgents. By June 2014, the historic city of Mosul was overrun with key military strongholds falling to the rampage. Mosul's Christians were then issued an ultimatum: "Convert, pay the jizya (Islamic subjugation tax), or be killed." Days later, the ultimatum became binary: "Leave or be killed." Many from the once thriving Christian community were forced to flee, along with army and police battalions.
This declared jihad was part of the terrorists' goal to eradicate all non-Muslims and others who refused to comply with their murderous cause. But not all hope is lost.... In recent times, Iraqi military forces with international assistance have begun to reclaim parts of the country that were previously lost to the self-proclaimed caliphate. In addition, the country's remaining Christians and Muslims are working side-by-side in the northern regions of the country in relief efforts.
One encouraging report after another continues to emerge from Iraq, announcing the radical transformation of ISIS warriors. Suddenly overcome with the heavy weight of their guilt, these persecutors are experiencing the loving grace of Christ through the lives of the believers they were once intent on displacing, raping or beheading.
Although the horrific violence has forced many followers of Christ to leave their beloved homeland, such powerful testimonies are indicative that the life-transforming ministry of our Risen Saviour cannot be eradicated. Taking this into consideration, and the fact that God's Word will not return void, the Gospel is presently being directed into the heart of ISIS-territory through radio broadcasts.