Christians have inhabited the Plains of Nineveh in Iraq for thousands of years. In 2014, ISIS invaded the region and gave believers an ultimatum: Convert to Islam or die. Thousands of them fled, barely escaping with their lives. Now, they are returning to find their homes in shambles. Samaritan’s Purse is working to rebuild these houses so that Christian families can remain in northern Iraq as a light for the Gospel. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden … In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16, ESV).
Adib Yacob and his family were held captive by ISIS for 11 days. The family of five is from Qaraqosh, a city situated in the Plains of Nineveh in Iraq, where Christians have lived for generations. When ISIS invaded the town in 2014, thousands of believers were forced to run for their lives. Some, like Adib and his family, were captured. For nearly two weeks, Adib, his wife Miriam and their three children lived in terror that they would be killed, praying fervently to be released. Eventually, they were set free and joined other families living in overcrowded displacement camps, where they stayed for three years. When Qaraqosh was liberated from ISIS, Adib and Miriam brought their children back to the city, but there wasn’t much left of the home they remembered. Their belongings had been torched and their windows were broken. They waded through knee-deep trash that littered what was once their warm, welcoming home. Like Nehemiah in the Bible, who lamented that “the city … lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 2:3), Adib was devastated to see his beloved town in ruins. Samaritan’s Purse came alongside Adib and Miriam, helping them lay new tile floors, replace windows and paint soot-stained walls. Our teams are rebuilding the homes of hundreds of Christians, making it possible for them to remain in Iraq as a testimony of God’s faithfulness. We call this Project Nehemiah, after the servant of God who rallied the people to restore the walls of Jerusalem and proclaim: “Let us rise up and build” (Nehemiah 2:18). For Adib, it wasn’t just his home that was restored, but his heart. Through the help he received, the Lord deepened his faith. “I asked God to be with me and He showed me His love and care for me. God was with me from the time I left my home until He brought me back.”