Iraqi Christians are threatened by ISIS every day for following Christ. They are driven from their homes; beheaded and abused relentlessly. Radical jihadists have forced over 100,000 Christians from their homeland. Since the attacks, there has been a decline of Christians in the country. A half a million believers already left Iraq to seek refuge in host countries like Egypt, Jordan, and European countries like Sweden. Believers are considered second-class citizen and have been targeted by extremists for over a decade. For example, ISIS fighters shelled the town of Qarakosh, which forced over 40,000 Christians to evacuate alone in 2015 and the attacks continue. Christians are not anomaly in the region, however. They have roots in Iraq and can trace their history back to the apostles. As Christianity grew, people coexisted for years with other religions in the Middle East. However, this radically changed with Islam extremists. About 4.5 million Christians lived in Iraq before 2000, according to International Christian Concern, and the population dwindled to 1.5 million by 2003. Today there are less than 200,000 Christians living in the country.
Those who survive ISIS's violence are calling for the people to pay attention, but God is not remaining silent, even if the world is. He is moving on the hearts of some of those very men who were persecuting Christians. An ISIS jihadist converted to Christianity after he saw Jesus in his dreams. Another militant reported he could not handle the killing of the innocent anymore. Director Gina Fadely of Youth with a Mission shared with the Voice of the Martyrs Radio Network that one fighter came to one of her leaders in the organization. The fighter shared that he was having dreams of a white man coming to him at night who said "You are killing my people,” which moved him to tears. The solider also admitted after killing a Christian the victim said "Let me give you my Bible." The ISIS fighter began to read it. Then he started getting sick about what he was doing to the innocent.
This is a reminder of what happened to Saul while on the road to Damascus as explained in Acts 9. He encountered Jesus while he was killing Christians and Jesus asked him: "Saul, why are you persecuting me?” There are many other followers of Islam pulling away to follow Christ, but they keep it hidden. One solider of ISIS survived gunshot wounds. He then was found by Saint Dominican Catholic Presbytery of Ayyash, which planned have him buried. However, the 32-year-old returned back to life. What he shared was startling. According to World News, Hermann Groschlin, was the priest who rescued him, and shared what the jihadist said. The grim reality of hell impacted the young fighter. He was ordered to suffer for his sins and refused into Heaven. He was also commanded to "relive all the pain he inflicted on others and every death he had caused throughout his entire life. He even had to relive the decapitations of his victims through their own eyes,” said Groschlin.
Religious freedom is not the only reason ISIS despises the West and Christians. Jihad Watch investigates radical Islam and works to bring more public awareness to their theology in the modern world. Robert Spencer is the director of the program run by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. One of the goals is to educate and correcting about the falsehoods as it relates to jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts, the website offered. By shedding as much light as possible on these matters, they hope to alert people of the true nature of terrorists. The theology of jihad, with all its assumptions about unbelievers‚ lack of human rights and dignity, is available today as a justification for anyone with the will and the means to bring it to life. “The doctrines of jihad and Islamic supremacist threaten the peace and human rights of all free people. If it is not confronted and resisted, it will prevail," wrote Spencer.
Jihadists hate us because we are not followers of Allah and we indulge in sin. They do not like that we are secular, are atheists, and condemn us for our crimes against Muslims around the world. Those who do not adhere to the radial beliefs of ISIS need to be eradicated. This is why Christians and others are in danger. But ex-members of ISIS are turning against the regime. Abu Ahmed was told to shoot anyone fleeing from under their control, this included women and children who tried to escape the conditions of Baghdad and Mosul. Over the summer another target was put on the backs of believers. Boko Haram's leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi, accused the West of try to “Christianize the region,” and vowed to burn every church and has started an anti-Christian war to stop the crusaders from growing.
This propaganda by Boko Haram and ISIS is backfiring as many Muslims are converting to Christianity because of the atrocities that are being committed. In the war-torn areas of Iraq and Syria refugees are learning about Christ from aid workers and tent churches. People are sick of the violence in the name of Allah, and want to have a personal relationship with God. They don’t want to follow a religion that promotes such hatred. Jesus is at work despite all the violence, and although Christians are fleeing there is a sense of hope. Many of people who were displaced, losing everything to escape ISIS, found something even more important. They found that God gives them strength and that He cares for them. God's love for them is unconditional, something they never experienced before. The Islamic State took people’s lives, children, homes and churches. Refugees and others are living in the shadow of ISIS. They were told to convert to Islam, pay a fine for being a Christian, or die. Those who are fleeing ISIS to follow Jesus have one thing that never can be taken away, that is their faith.