Iraqi Christians are commonly believed to be the oldest continuous Christian community in the world – the direct result of the apostle Thomas’ evangelism efforts. But as Gregg Brekke writes in the July issue of Sojourners, Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East are leaving in a mass exodus.
Sojourners editorial assistant Dawn Araujo spoke with a Christian family that left Iraq in 2012. Before leaving the country, Laith Cosa and his wife Awab Khoshnaw had fled—along with their daughters, Linda, 17; Lilyan, 12; and Lobna, 6—to the relative safety of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.
They stayed there for six years before coming to the U.S., in part to seek better medical care for Lobna who had blood cancer.
The Cosas say Christians in Iraq have lived perilously for decades. Both Awab’s father and brother faced persecution long before the U.S. Iraqi invasion, her father fleeing briefly to Poland.
But they harbor no ill-will toward Muslims. They emphasize that Islam is not the problem, but rather a tradition of fear and dislike of “the other” that is passed down from generation to generation. A tradition, they say, can be fought with love and better understanding.