International Christian Concern, Jun. 28, 2021 (excerpts)
The 2003 invasion of Iraq saw the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a terrible oppressor of religious and ethnic minorities, Christian and Islamic alike. However, with the fall of such a powerfully centralized regime, relations between the vast number of Iraqi religious and ethnic groups, up until then kept in line by an iron fist, quickly turned volatile.
Intense, widespread sectarian violence followed insurgency begun by al-Qaeda and ISIS after the initial invasion. Many amongst Iraq’s Shia Islamic community created their own armed militias backed by Iran, resulting in widespread displacement, devastation, and death.
Iraqis from the traditionally Christian Dora Neighbourhood next to Baghdad fled in 2007. A displaced single mother of three daughters, Abella, could barely manage to provide for her family in this hostile environment when her husband was murdered by Sunni extremists.
Christians like her were already viewed as soft targets by extremists, and often targeted during ethnic, religious, and tribal rivalries. Turning to the church to keep her daughters as safe, Abella placed them in a nunnery.
Having survived al-Qaeda, ISIS, and continual waves of sectarian violence and upheaval, Abella’s life was threatened again by the need for immediate emergency surgery. A Christian NGO helped covered the cost and her operation biopsy results came back negative.
The faith of the Iraqi Church continues to persevere and remain steadfast, helped along by a story like Abella’s.