Children Advocacy | 09 November 2022

How do you prevent children in Iraq from being displaced?


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How many more Christmases will Christian children celebrate in Iraq? Forced displacement is a deliberate tactic of religious persecution to rid a country of Christians and deprive children of their future. But, because of your support, Christians like 12-year-old Mimi and her mother Nadia from Iraq have found new hope for a future in their country.

Mimi loves Christmas: “We play songs and we decorate the house with Christmas decorations,” she says. “Then I go and celebrate with my chicken. I take Lulu inside the house to celebrate with us.”

“Glory to God in the highest! Peace on the earth, good will! Sweeping the plain, the glad refrain. Echoes from hill to hill!” – the famous Christmas song seems to fit in perfectly with the situation at the farm. But the scene hasn’t been always as romantic as it seems now, and a future on the farm for Mimi isn’t a given either. Even though Mimi is only 12, she has had her fair share of persecution.


Difficult memories

Mimi was only 4 years old when persecution drove her out of the safety of her grandparents’ house, where she was staying with her mother and sisters at the time. She was too young to remember everything that happened, so Mimi’s mother Nadia helps her to tell the story.

“At about 2 in the morning, the extremists of ISIS entered the village,” she says. “It’s been many years now and these voices are still in my ears, I think I will keep remembering that moment until I die,” says Nadia, shivering.

Mimi, too young to realize what happened, mainly remembers the fear: “When I woke up, I saw my grandfather and Nana [grandmother]. They were sitting, and they were scared.” She recalls: “I asked grandpa: what is wrong? They didn’t say anything. They said: later.”

When the voices came closer the family decided to leave right away, not taking anything. ISIS was very close by. “I saw them,” Nadia says, recalling her worst nightmare. “I saw their faces, they were terrifying. They were all dressed in black, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘God is great’ from their cars. They were pushing people forward with their rifles.”

The family got in their car and drove off, soon ending up in a traffic jam of people fleeing in panic. Mimi and her sisters were hidden at her mother’s feet in the hope they would be safer there. They cried and screamed. One of Nadia’s most horrific moments as a mother: “Mimi and her sisters asked for food and water, but there was none.”

Nine hours later, the family reached safety. Together with six other families, they found a place to stay: “We sat down, and Nana put some cartoons on TV so that we wouldn’t be scared, “ says Mimi. “We were all watching the cartoons, me and Nana and my grandpa and my mother. They were talking to each other. I was just sitting there. Later my father came to be with us as well. That made me very happy.”

When, in 2017, ISIS was defeated, the family returned to the Nineveh Plain. But the situation was rough, and Mimi’s parents were struggling to make ends meet. There seemed to be no other option but to leave the country, like so many around them had. Mimi’s grandparents had already emigrated after the horrible events with ISIS.

This was a turning point in Mimi’s history. From all sides Christians were, and still are, encouraged to leave the country. Both government officials and normal citizens question why Christians are still in Iraq. Despite the hard economic situation, Christians are not helped. In fact, militias have been known to expropriate Christians' land for years without facing punishment.

Forced displacement is not incidental. It’s a deliberate tactic of religious persecution so that there is no Christian population in a given country any longer. This doesn’t just mean that the country is deprived of Christian witnesses, it also deprives those Christian children of growing up in their culture.



This is where Open Doors’ local partner jumped in. Because Mimi’s family did want to stay, they just needed to be given the opportunity to do so. “We wanted to live in Iraq, but we saw no opportunities. We seriously contemplated emigration,” Nadia says, then she smiles. “Then, we heard about the microloans and got the plan to start a farm. If God wants it, he will bless us to make it a success.”

With your support, Mimi now has a future in Iraq. Mimi’s family received a microloan and with that they started their farm. With the money they could borrow, they bought sheep for breeding. How they extended the flock isn’t hard to guess walking around the farm - tens of baby goats are hopping around, some are so young they can barely stand.

Sharing blessings
God blessed the farm, so much in fact that the family is not only able to sustain themselves, but also help others around them. They were able to hire several people on their farm who now also are able to provide for their families. Also Mimi shares from what she has: when her chicken provides fertilized eggs she gives them away to other people for free, and they can raise the chicks to provide eggs for their own families.

It's all in the Christmas spirit, Mimi says, while she helps her mother decorate the house with a yellow star. “I like to wish people a happy Christmas and to give something to the people to make people happy. And when people are happy, Jesus is happy. It’s His birthday.”



The situation for Christians in Iraq is not improving. On the contrary: discrimination and persecution are on the rise. While Mimi’s parents are quite successful in hiding it from their children, living in a small Christian community they do experience persecution themselves. For instance, at the doctor’s office where Nadia was recently bullied for not being veiled. Despite everything, Mimi’s parents choose to stay: “I forgive those who harmed us because that is what Jesus asks of us. And surely enough, when God wants to enlighten the heart of a person, He will, nomatter what he has done.” She also emphasizes that the Iraqi Christians need the worldwide Church: “The Christians that remained here are but a few, for sure. But we hope that life will get better if awareness is created about our situation and if we are supported by other Christians.”

And for Mimi? She also wants to stay in Iraq: “I love Iraq, because it is my country, and I was born in it. I don’t want to leave. When ISIS came and they attacked Iraq, I was sad about Iraq and asked why did they do this? And the chickens; I don’t want to travel at all, I want to stay here. So, if my parents want to travel, they can travel, I don’t want to travel, I want to stay here with my chicken.”

Ongoing need

With your support, 276 microloans are currently running in Iraq. Many more have already been paid off while the businesses they helped to start or sustain are still supporting families to stay in Iraq every day. But the situation isn't stable yet. Persecution, war and the economic situation still drive Christians to emigrate.

With your support, those who want to stay and be the salt and light of Iraq have the means to do so. The Christmas lunch starts. The chickens are pottering about, the sheep bleat, drowning out the Christmas songs coming from the inside. Sweeping the plain, the glad refrain. Echoes from hill to hill: hopefully this peaceful Christmas is the first of many more to come.

please pray
  • Pray for children and families who have been displaced.
  • Pray for those who chose to stay, that they may find hope and for daily provision for their needs.
  • Pray for those who have yet to know about Jesus, that they too may find a loving relationship with Him as Lord and Savior.
give today

Will you give hope to persecuted children this Christmas?

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provides a month’s education to two children impacted by persecution.

Every PHP 3,950 supports a child at the Colombia Children’s Centre, giving safety, education and a future.

Every PHP 5,370 gives Bibles to ten children, so they can know Jesus through Scripture.