BAGHDAD, Iraq — Four Iraqi children firmly declared their love for Jesus in the face of death when Muslims in the country recently demanded that they convert to Islam.
Andrew White, chaplain of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, relayed the story in a recent video as he shared both about the persecution that Christians face in the country and the bravery of the children in standing up for their faith despite the consequences.
“ISIS turned up and said to the children, ‘You say the words that you will follow Mohammad,’” White explained. “The children, all under 15, four of them, said, ‘No, we love Yesua (the Iraqi name for Jesus). We have always loved Yesua. We have always followed Yesua. Yesua has always been with us.'”
The Muslims then again demanded the children to say that they will follow Mohammad.
“They said, ‘Say the words!’ [The children] said, ‘No, we can’t,” he recalled.
The men then decapitated the children.
“They chopped all their heads off,” White said, visibly moved and holding back tears.
“How do you respond to that?” he asked. “You just cry. They are my children (being from my country). That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.”
During the video, White also told other stories of how Christians are being persecuted in Iraq, especially in cities like Baghdad and Nineveh. He said that matters became especially dire when ISIS, who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, began its insurgency and drove Christians from their homes.
“[ISIS] hounded all of them out—not some—all of them,” he said. “And they killed huge numbers. They chopped their children in half. They chopped their heads off. And they moved north, and it was just so terrible what happened.”
White said that approximately 250,000 Christians remain displaced in a country where there used to be an estimated 1 million Christians and Catholics.
“[ISIS] said to one man, an adult, ‘Either you say the words of converting to Islam or we will kill all of your children,'” he remembered. “He was desperate. He said the words.”
“Then he phoned me and said, ‘…I said the words, does that mean Yasua doesn’t love me anymore? I have always loved Yasua. I said those words because I couldn’t see my children be killed,'” White recalled. “I said, ‘Eliaz, no, Jesus still loves you. He will always love you.'”
He said that Muslims have likewise sought to kill him, so he was advised by a former colleague to flee the country. White opined that it is not possible for Christians to live under the rule of ISIS.
“All of them have had to flee,” he said.