This is Habib. He is the son of the captain of the Christian militia that helped liberate Qaraqosh, and now protects the city from counterattacks.
Habib represents the future of his village, and, spiritually speaking, all that God wants to do in this nation.
Habib told us stories of his ancestors that chose to bow their neck to the sword rather than bow their knee to Islam. He is vehemently opposed to dead religion and the dead works it produces. He believes the future of the church looks less like its past (insulated and exclusive) and more like its origin; men and women who have encountered Jesus, no longer consider their lives their own, and burn to see those who do not know Him fall in love with Him.
In this photo, Habib is walking through the doorway of a church that was built in the second century. He is stepping into the exposed courtyard that ISIS used for target practice.
I couldn't think of a more fitting image for this man...leaving the safety of a sanctuary and following his King into the exposed line of fire.
The older man in the middle, his name is Isaiah. This is his home.
In this room he would have prayer meetings, so large they eventually had to move to a bigger place to pray. Upstairs he had stacks of Bibles he would distribute to Muslims in his village. Like Habib, Isaiah was a fierce critic of dead religion in his town, and a bold witness for Jesus.
When ISIS invaded Qaraqosh, Isaiah & his family were forced to flee. ISIS did to our brother's home what ISIS does to our brother's homes...loot them & fire bomb them.
As we drove the deserted and maimed streets of his town, never did I see a defeated look on Isaiah's face. He worshipped in the car and he prayed on the rooftops.
As we gathered to pray in the room where so many prayers had been prayed, Isaiah rejoiced that, once again, prayers were rising from his home.
Men like Isaiah represent the future of Christianity in this nation. Full of faith, full of praise, eyes fixed on a Heavenly City.
A persecuted believer once told me, "Christianity without suffering is not beautiful." I'd say our brothers and sisters here in Iraq are some of the most beautiful the world has ever known.
We worshipped and prayed on the roof of what once was a beautiful home. One of the rooms clearly belonged to 2 little girls. I could tell because I have the same room in my house...pink walls with stickers on them of things little girls like to dream of.
There was graffiti on the outside of the home that read, "This home belongs to the Caliphate. From here the Kingdom of Allah will expand." How fitting that we sang something similar from the rooftop, "This city belongs to the Kingdom of our God. His Kingdom will grow and never end."