However, having been recently diagnosed with hepatitis B, it is not clear how his involvement in the crisis will change during the coming months. Premier Christianity asked him to share some of his recent experiences.
What exactly is happening in Iraq?
All of the Christians from Mosul, Nineveh, Kirkuk – all the main areas where Christians used to be based – they’ve all been made to flee. And it’s not just the Christians who are having a terrible time. We’ve got this horrendous situation with the Yazidis in the north. Many of them are left trapped in the mountains.
Where is God in a situation like this?
All we can say is that he never leaves us and he takes us by the hand. Where we can’t go into great theological reasoning as to where he is, all we know, he is with us and he is not leaving us and he’ll keep standing with us.
Are the Christians in Iraq managing to hold on to that message?
Of all the Christians, I’ve only heard of two families who converted under threat of persecution. But even they say they’re still following their God. They say their faith is getting stronger, so despite all these awful things, their faith is getting stronger and they’re taking great courage from what they know and read about in scripture.
Why does the IS hate Christians and other minorities so much?
They hate because they hate. They hate because they’re evil. It is not an issue of ‘these are Muslims and they’re radicals and that’s what they’re like’. They’re like this because they’re evil; they are terrorists. They don’t know God at all. Sarah [Ahmed my PA] is saying to me right now. ‘These people don’t know God’, and she is a Muslim.
We pray that they may come to us and we may be able to surround them with true love and feed them and show them that there are some people willing to be their friends. This has happened before and we pray that it will happen again.
What can our prayers achieve?
The prayers of our people here have done everything. They have helped us, they have sustained us, they have supported us, and without them we would not be surviving now. We need three things: we need protection; we need provision; and we need perseverance to keep going forwards.
‘I left him in the cradle’
Canon Andrew White’s PA Sarah Ahmed, an Iraqi relief worker and a doctor at St George’s Clinic, described the horrific situation of a family she met at one of the camps. She relates how, as IS militants attacked their village, indiscriminately shooting bystanders in the head, the villagers fled without looking back.
‘In villages we have big families, so each family would have ten kids, all [about] the same age,’ Ahmed explains. ‘This lady was taking all the kids, and when I went [into the camp] she was yelling and hitting her head and crying. When you ask her, she doesn’t respond. She just said, “I left him, I left him, I left him in the cradle. I left him in the cradle.”
‘People say that when she was taking all the kids to get them out of the house – they were running without shoes, only the clothes that were on them – she forgot the newborn baby and he was in the cradle. Because she was saving everybody she left the one in the cradle...She left him and she could not go back to get him.’