Youth pastor sparks hope among persecuted Iraqi Christians

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Lorraine Caballero
A Christian youth leader is bringing hope to the displaced and persecuted believers in Iraq by ministering to them and building up their hope in God.
(Reuters/Stringer)An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul sleeps inside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chaldean Church in Telkaif near Mosul, in the province of Nineveh, July 20, 2014.

Martin, 25, fled from Karamles to Erbil two years ago with his church when the Islamic State (IS) conquered their village. With the help of British and Irish churches, he is now helping ignite hope among the persecuted Christians by supplementing their needs with encouraging words from God, Open Doors UK details.

“The displacement causes a type of stress that we haven’t experienced before. You have to realise that IS didn’t only take their house, the place they felt most comfortable,” said Martin. “IS also seized their university and their future.”

Bishop Mar Shlemon Warduni, the interim Bishop and apostolic administrator of St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Diocese, has told East County Magazine in an exclusive interview that the Iraqi Christians feel that nobody cares for them and that the international community has forgotten about them.

Martin knows exactly how the displaced Iraqi Christians feel because some of them were his former classmates in primary school. Now, he and another leader named Thabet are being equipped by Open Doors in supporting the persecuted believers.

The Christian refugees in Erbil have been provided with a portacabin that serves as both their church and school. Thabet said many Christians first asked for a church when they settled in the community. He explained that a church helps unite people and provides an avenue for them to proclaim God’s word daily, pray, and share their faith.

For Martin, the portacabin is a place where he can continue teaching and ministering to the youth. Open Doors has supported the young Christian leader with an online pastoral course which is on par with a university level.

Martin says he is teaching the young people to apply Jesus’ teachings to their personal lives and to put their full trust in God. He added that the consistent prayer and encouragement helped the Iraqi Christians hope again and regain their strength to rebuild their village.