The fear of ISIS looms in almost every corner of Iraq, where religious minorities have experienced high levels of brutality and persecution by the extremist group.
Three years ago, Martin Baani, 24, risked his life while he was enrolled in an Iraqi seminary school to protect the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, a term referencing the body and blood of Christ, from the ugly hands of ISIS.
Martin Baani was just 24 years old when he risked his life as a seminarian to rescue the Blessed Sacrament from… https://t.co/Q5WIzV3sbQ
— Vocations CAVA (@VocationsCava) May 25, 2017
Baani first heard from a neighbor about a possible ISIS-led invasion in his hometown of Karamlesh. His neighbor was right — ISIS did invade, destroying the majority of the Christian Assyrian town and its ancient relics. Under such dire circumstances, Baani’s family was forced to flee without him.
Baani departed by car with the Blessed Sacrament and four other pastors including his own, Fr. Thabet. He continued his studies at Saint Peter’s Seminary in the Kurdistan capital of Erbil, Iraq, while his family fled to the United States.
While still in seminary, Baani spoke with Aid to the Church in Need about his work:
“Every day I go to the refugee camps to accompany the families,” he said. “We are Christian refugees. ISIS wants to eliminate Christianity from Iraq but I have decided to stay. I love Jesus and I don’t want our history to disappear.”
Now a priest, Fr. Banni is grateful he decided to continue his education and stay in Iraq to serve Christian men and women in need.
In October 2016, Baani’s hometown was liberated from ISIS.
— Christians of Iraq (@iraqichristian) October 24, 2016
The struggle to free the rest of Iraq and parts of Syria from the terrorist group is ongoing. As of now, ISIS only controls one-tenth of Mosul, the last major city under terrorist control, CNN reported last week.
Aid to the Church in Need is helping to rebuild Christian communities liberated from ISIS in Iraq. If you are interested in learning more, click here.
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