A Christian charity has been praised for its dedication to the restoration of ancient churches that have been destroyed by Islamic State militants.
Aid to the Church in Need has pledged to help repair and restore some 14 churches across the country which have all been ransacked by ISIS fighters. One of the most significant churches to be restored is the iconic “Great Al-Tahira Church” in Qaraqosh, a large town located in the Nineveh Plains.
Syriac Catholic Archbishop Petros Mouche of Mosul said he could not express just how much the restoration work will mean to the local Christian community as they continue to rebuild their town following the brutal ISIS invasion.
“For us, [the Great Al-Tahira] Church is a symbol. This church was built in 1932, and it was the villagers of Baghdeda who constructed it,” he said, according to the Catholic Herald.
“For this reason, we want this symbol to remain as a Christian symbol to encourage the people, especially the locals of Baghdeda, to stay here. This is our country, and this is a witness that we can give for Christ.”
Among several ACN-approved projects across the country is the restoration of the Najem Al-Mashrik Hall and Theatre in Bashiqa — a town with a large Christian and Yazidi population. The group hopes to rebuild the venue so that it can once again be used for weddings and family celebrations.
“This project will help ensure the survival of Christian families and provide them with important services,” said one local priest, Fr Daniel Behnam.
“In particular, it will help young people, providing a space for pastoral, cultural and youth activities.”
ACN reports that the number of Christians residing in Iraq has declined by some 90 percent in just one generation. After the defeat of ISIS, however, many have begun to return to their beloved hometowns.
“Of the 120,000 Christians who fled the Nineveh Plains following the Daesh invasion in 2014, more than 45,000 have since returned,” the charity noted.