Daily life is an inhuman struggle for Christians in the Middle East. Very few of them have decided to stay. Strength and courage are not enough to remain remain in a country at war where Christians have become one of the main targets.
Shlemon Warduni, a bishop in Iraq, has suffered the devastating effects of war.
Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of Bagdad: “Many of us have stared death in the face. But the Lord has saved us. I have been on the brink of death five times and the Lord has given me life.”
He has been a bishop in Iraq for 15 years and he has witnessed how war has killed thousands of people around him He is one of the lucky ones that still lives to tell the story.
Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of Bagdad: “Once I was assaulted at gunpoint while I was in my car. The car went out of control, but I managed to stop it. People came up to me and asked me: “Are you hurt? Are you hurt? And I said: “It’s nothing.” They said: “How can that be? Let me see.” As a matter of fact, I was OK. Another time, we were in the car waiting at a checkpoint, and suddenly, a car bomb exploded behind us. It blew up and the shock wave lifted the driver and me. Another time, we were having lunch and a car bomb went off on the other side of the street. This was our life. But with the strength our faith gives us, we went forward against all hope.”
This region was the one of the first to embrace the Christian faith, but every day there are less and less Christians. Iraq is currently the most dangerous country for churchgoers, second only to North Korea.
The few that decide to stay miraculously find hope, even though all that surrounds them is poverty, horror, and persecution.
Violence, however, is not their biggest concern, they know that if they are kidnapped they will only have two options: convert to Islam or death.
Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of Bagdad: “(Faced with this decision) 120,000 people left their homes in just one night. I take great pride in this: the faith in the hearts of the faithful is very deep and very strong, and we thank God for that.”
Violence in Iraq has taken the lives of 250,000 people. Institutions like Caritas are present in the area and they try to help as many victims as possible, regardless of their faith.