Mathi’s home was destroyed by so-called Islamic State when they took over Qaraqosh in northern Iraq. He and his family had to flee. But now, with your support, Open Doors partners have been able to rebuild their home. Thank you!
When so-called Islamic State (IS) took over their town, Qaraqosh in northern Iraq, Mathi and his family had no choice but to flee. He, his wife Nazik and their six children fled to safety – they knew that their Christian faith made them extremely vulnerable.
Five years later, thanks to your support, they have been able to return home.
“We decorated the house so that it looks exactly like we left it,” says Mathi. “The children have asked us to leave the house the same, they all want it like this, even the ones that don’t live with us anymore.” Three of their adult children now live abroad. “But the house has such good memories for them; they want to come here and relive those times, especially now so much has changed.”
Mathi had never expected to see his city restored. He first visited Qaraqosh mere hours after it was liberated, and saw the devastation that IS had left in their wake. “I was just crying and crying. I couldn’t believe how such a beautiful city changed into this. The houses were destroyed or burned down, there was rubbish in the street. It was abandoned, not fit to live in.”
But even on that first day, he could feel a sense of resolve coming over him. “I became determined to return and rebuild my house here. I didn’t know how, but I knew I would find a way.”
Of course, God knew the way. And He used your prayers and giving to help restore Mathi’s home and the homes of many other persecuted Christian families – Open Doors partners have rebuilt almost 2,000 homes, as well as churches and schools.
“We had to start again from zero, but we did it because we had hope, and that hope was supported by you.” Father george
“In May 2017 we started with the reconstruction of Qaraqosh,” remembers Father George, the head of the reconstruction committee in Qaraqosh. “We divided the houses into three categories: we started with the type C houses with little damage, then worked on type B houses that were partially destroyed or burned. And, finally, we started our work on the type A houses: those that were totally destroyed.”
He continues: “The people of IS have a lot of hate against Christians. They wanted to destroy our life and our hope, but they didn't succeed. Our willpower and our hope are stronger than their armies and their hatred against us!
“We had to start again from zero, but we did it because we had hope, and that hope was supported by you.”
Mathi with his wife and one of his six children
It certainly made an enormous difference in Mathi’s life.
"When I found out my house was going to be rebuilt, it created a kind of joy in me that I cannot describe,” he says. "I could rebuild my house and live there again, even though IS tried to wipe us out.
“Islamic State tried to erase us as Christians, but we have returned," Mathi adds. "My city was dead but now it is alive again!”
“I want to thank everyone who helped us to rebuild our city. I hope that one day I will be able to do something in return." Mathi
Like everywhere else, Qaraqosh is experiencing the impact of the global pandemic – but now, at least, Mathi’s family and many other Iraqi families have a safe place to shelter during the crisis.
He wants to express his thanks to Open Doors supporters: “I want to thank everyone who helped us to rebuild our city. I hope that one day I will be able to do something in return; that I can help you.”
And it has shown him that Christians in Iraq are not alone. We are all one worldwide body of Christ, and your prayers and gifts showed this to Mathi and his family: “It makes me happy that they are thinking about us and our suffering. It helps me to show my children that we are not alone in this world; that there is still humanity.”
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.