By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- In Iraq, the huge crisis for the Christian community continues. The enormity of it is just beginning to sink in, says one Anglican vicar who lives and works in the region.
Canon Andrew White
"At least 250,000 people have been forced from their homes, their churches, and their towns," says Canon Andrew White, known popularly as 'The Vicar of Baghdad.'
"They have been persecuted in ways too awful to describe. Their children have been killed, mutilated, and made to suffer in ways we never thought possible. Yet in the midst of all this G-d's glory has never left us."
Canon White says in a post on his Facebook page (used by ANS with permission) that last week ISIS (now known as Islamic State) broke into one of the Christian homes in the area.
"There was the father of the family with his children. The ISIS people held a sword to each of the children's necks and told the father Yokhanna that unless he converted to Islam they would all be killed. He looked at his children and said 'I always want you and need you.' He could not even bear to consider that his children would be killed," Canon White reports.
"With great reluctance, he said the words of conversion. ISIS left and he phoned me crying, 'Abouna Abouna (my father) they were going to kill my dear young children, they forced me to say the words of conversion and I said them. I love Yesua so much I will never leave my Yesua will He leave me now.'
"I asked myself what would I have done if I were placed in that situation. I told Yokhanna that Yesua still loved him and would never leave him. That Yesua would always be part of his life and would always be in their home," Canon White said.
Meanwhile the Canon's work at St. George's Church in Baghdad continues, trying to help the thousands of displaced people in the wake of the Islamic State terrorist activities in Iraq.
"We have had to provide everything, everything. Food, drink, mattresses, baby's cots, wheelchairs and much more. The people have nowhere to stay; most have sought refuge in churches and schools where hundreds are left sleep on the floor. Very soon, the children should be returning to school after their summer vacation -- nobody knows if and how the schools will even be able to open with so many hundreds o f the Christians and Yazeedis there."
Following a bout with hepatitis, Canon White said: "Today I started work properly and shared in taking the funeral of Amelia, a wonderful lady of 102 who was the granddaughter of Smith Wigglesworth.
"I got involved with the family because my grandfather was at one time the assistant to Smith Wigglesworth, when he died, he was given Smith Wigglesworth's Bible. Two days before my grandfather died he gave me the Bible and it has been with me ever since. It has come with me all around the world and has always been a source of great inspiration to me. I do pray each day that I may see the signs, wonders and miracles that Smith Wigglesworth saw, and by G-d's grace I do."