Liberated from ISIS: How Operation Blessing Is Helping These Believers Get Their Lives Back

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As fighting continues between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters in western Mosul, Iraqi Christians are slowly returning to their homes in some cities liberated from the terror group.

On his last trip to the front lines, Operation Blessing’s President Bill Horan saw first-hand what ISIS did to Iraq’s largest Christian town.
 
“I’m standing here on the roof of a church, a historic church in Qaraqosh,” Horan said while filming on a church rooftop. “This is a community of over 50,000 people. Every man, woman and child was a Christian that lived in this community.”
 
On August 6, 2014, Christians of Qaraqosh fled just hours before Islamic fighters overran the area.
 
ISIS practically destroyed the entire town over the next two years, turning almost every church into their playground of evil.
 
“Evidently, they didn’t have enough explosives to blow it down,” Horan said. “They used a courtyard down here for a shooting range.”

“They took artifacts from the church, sacred relics — some of them hundreds of years old — and used them, literally, for target practice, spending thousands, tens of thousands of rounds out in this courtyard practicing how to kill people,” he said.

Operation Blessing’s Bill Horan Tours Destroyed Churches in Qaraqosh

Then in October of last year, Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, recaptured Qaraqosh. Months later, residents of the town are slowly trickling back in.
 
Operation Blessing is on the ground, helping some families rebuild.
 
This month, the Christian humanitarian organization started the city’s first business since its liberation by assisting one family in starting a bakery to supply fresh bread to people coming home.

Operation Blessing Opens New Bakery for Christians in Iraq

But many residents are still too afraid to return as fighting rages on miles away in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul.

For now, the majority of Qaraqosh’s Christians are living as refugees in neighboring Jordan. Operation Blessing is helping them, too.

Operation Blessing’s Ministry to Persecuted Christians

The group is feeding over 300 Christian refugee children from Qaraqosh at a school in Amman.

“Most refugees, they don’t have enough meals or resources to feed their children,” the school’s principal told Operation Blessing. “So many children, they come without having eaten meals at home. So we stress that they have a good meal at school.”
 
Father Khalil runs the facility.
 
“Before we start the school, the kids pray with me all together the Our Father in Aramaic, the language of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
 
Operation Blessing also funds a clinic that’s helping refugees displaced by ISIS.
 
“People in America have to be more aware of this and have compassion for our brothers and sisters here,” Horan said. “These are all believers in Christ and we have to do all we can possibly do to help them rebuild their lives.”
 

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