In Iraq the Yazidis fled the brutal terror of ISIS.
“These Arabic tribes, they joined them,” Faris Elias Kholo told CBN News.
“They took away our females, children, old men, everything,” he continued. “Even if we get back our homes, we cannot live with the Arabs because they usually try to persecute us.”
The Yazidis are looking to the Kurds and Christians for help with many accepting Christ and becoming Christian.
The newly converted Yazidi Christian says he was attracted to Christianity because of the kindness and generosity of Christians.
“I can say only one word about the difference between Islam and Christianity. The difference is between earth and sky and heaven,” Shamo told CBN News
The Yazidis lived in mountains communities that were inaccessible to native Iraqi missionaries.
An ethnoreligious community in Iraq was once inaccessible to native Iraqi missionaries, as members lived reclusively in distant mountains near the border with Turkey. Since Islamic State (ISIS) atrocities drove them from their mountain strongholds last year, however, Yazidis now account for most of the people who have turned to Christ through a local ministry.
While ISIS terror tactics have contributed to many Muslims in Iraq and Syria coming to Christ, in the past six month about 70 percent of those displaced to the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Dohuk who have embraced Christ through one ministry’s outreach are Yazidis, a native Iraqi ministry director said.
“When they were kicked out of their area, they all went south to Dohuk and Erbil,” he said. “It was very far and very difficult for us to go there to reach these people, so the Lord just brought them to us.”
With beliefs and rituals rooted in Zoroastrianism, mixed with elements of Christianity and Islam, Yazidis dwelled in the high-altitude Sinjar Mountain range stretching from Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate to the lower, shorter segment in Syria. The Islamic State massacred as many as 500 Yazidis in an offensive last August in the Iraqi town of Sinjar and surrounding areas.
Among all displaced peoples the ministry has reached in the Erbil and Dohuk areas in the past six months, about 80 families have put their trust in Christ, he said. They are large families of seven to 10 people each. While more Muslims than Yazidis are coming to Christ among displaced people reached by other ministries, the director of this ministry (unnamed for security reasons) has seen Yazidis respond most. Among other converts, about 20 percent came from traditional churches where they had grown up with little knowledge of the Bible and had no relationship with Christ, and the remaining 10 percent came from Muslim families.
“Around Kurdistan there are so many churches and so many ministries, and I believe the number [of converts] is huge,” the director said, adding that the total likely amounted to several thousand.
Among them was a Yazidi boy of no more than 15, named Shirkahn, who lost both of his sisters to ISIS kidnappers. When the ministry director met him in Dohuk, the boy was trying to help his mother and father survive by asking people if he could shine their shoes for the equivalent of less than 25 cents.
“He told me this story with tears,” the director said. “His dad was paralyzed because of what happened to the family when ISIS kicked them out. Shirkahn told me that he hadn’t eaten for four days.”
Members of the ministry team prayed with him and asked if they could visit his family and pray for his father. He took them to their tent on the street.
“We talked to the mother; we talked to the father,” he said. “We prayed with them. We said Jesus can heal, and they immediately give their hearts to the Lord. And Shirkhan was very touched by this ministry, and he said, ‘How can I be a missionary like you and go help people? Shirkhan surrendered his life to the Lord and prayed with us.”
Those who come to Christ are connected to tent churches, while some who live close enough to an established church might walk to its building for worship. Thus people of varied backgrounds and ethnicities meet together for worship and instruction in Kurdish and Arabic, he said. Yazidis are primarily Kurdish-speaking. Read more at Christian Aid Mission