What are you hoping for Christmas this year? Some of the children from Father Zechariah’s church in Erbil, Iraq share their hopes and dreams for Christmas and the year ahead.
A choir of children stand at the front of a church in Erbil, Iraq, getting ready to sing Christmas songs. The atmosphere is one of anticipation and joy – the building is decked out with the familiar Christmas tree, nativity scene and lights.
But there are some things that are less familiar; for the children, this will be the seventh year celebrating Christmas away from their homes in Mosul, over 50 miles away. Some of them are too young to even remember their hometown, or their families fleeing to safety to escape Islamic State (IS) militants.
Father Zachariah leads the children in some beautiful hymns, before gathering everyone together and asking them about their hopes and wishes for Christmas. While most children might consider new toys or clothes, these children think differently.
Eleven-year-old Fakhri says, “I pray that there will be no terrorists in this world, so we can live in peace.” Sam (10) and Marina (8) wish to live in peace and safety. Lydia (10) agrees. “We want to live in peace and security like other children in the world,” she says.
Mark (10) and Dima (9) pray for their church. “I wish that I would be able to go back to my church in Mosul,” Mark says.
Please pray that these children will be able to celebrate Christmas safely this year
While these prayers and wishes may still be a long way from being fulfilled, your prayers and gifts have enabled Open Doors local partners to support these children and their families who fled their homes, initially with emergency aid, and later with trauma care, education, and by helping parents start small businesses.
Father Zachariah’s church was one of several that were able to run Christmas Sunday schools like this last year, where children could sing and receive Bibles and other books. This year, celebrations look uncertain as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect activities.
Please pray for these children and their families this Christmas – in particular, pray that God would make a way for them to celebrate the birth of Jesus safely.
Did you know that these children feature in our new Advent resource for children and families? Make your own Advent wreath and learn more about the persecuted church this Christmas!
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.