The Christians of Qaraqosh and the Story of the Cross
To Tell the Story: The Christians of Qaraqosh and the Story of the Cross
The Qaraqosh cross is named for the largest Christian city in the Mosul region, often considered the cradle of Christianity in Iraq. ISIS began attacking this area in 2014, murdering Christians, demolishing churches and burning down peoples’ homes. In just three short years, the town which had previously been inhabited by nearly 40,000 Christians had turned into a ghost town, with many people murdered, and many having fled for safety to Jordan and other areas within Iraq.
Two years later, in 2016, Reload team members were in Amman, Jordan scouting potential partners and building playgrounds, when they met some of the refugees who had fled Qaraqosh during the 2014 invasion. One of the people who deeply impacted our team was Dr. Bashar – a man who told his family to flee at the notice of the invasion, and later found them in the desert.
While in Amman, our team also learned of Sister Diana, a nun who had fled Qaraqosh with many children and escaped to Erbil, where she was currently living. Though unaware of it at the time, our team would later learn more about her.
Sometime later, after Qaraqosh had been liberated, our team had the opportunity to visit the town and saw firsthand the devastation that they’d heard about years earlier while in Amman. Though liberated, the town was still empty and devasted. Many of the buildings and homes were still strewn with IEDs, so not many people had returned yet. Perhaps one of the most memorable places they visited was a church – the church where Sister Diana had lived. It was here that one of our team members saw some wooden crosses amongst the rubble, and the idea for our Qaraqosh Cross was born.
While examining the church, our team members met Father Roni as he searched through the rubble for the felt board that was used to teach Bible stories to the children. Though the church had been burned and desecrated by ISIS, and some areas even used for target practice, Father Roni was emphatic that when the children returned, they would teach them to love, forgive, and not hate. After returning from the trip we were blessed to send Father Roni a very special felt board, one that had been purchased with funds raised by the children of Calvary Albuquerque during their summer vacation Bible school. Children reaching out to care about other children.
And now, in 2018, two years after visiting Qaraqosh and meeting Father Roni, we are thrilled to have built five playgrounds in the Mosul region, including one specifically in Qaraqosh. In July, some of our team members had the honor of dedicating these playgrounds.
We pray that as our brothers and sisters continue to return home, they will know that they are loved and not forgotten, and their children will be blessed with joy as they run, play and laugh on the new playgrounds.
We hope that when you wear your Qaraqosh Cross you will pray for our brothers and sisters as they rebuild their lives, and be sure to share their story, as well.
Interested in joining the Lovement? As the old adage goes – even a little goes a long way. Consider making a one-time, tax-deductible donation to Reload Love, or become a Groundbreaker and partner with us on a monthly basis. Together, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the children he loves.