Sander is the man in the video clip. His story is one of the most shocking we have ever told (his name has been changed to protect his identity).
A living grave
It is 2009. With Al Qaeda resurgent in northern Iraq, Sander and his family decide to move to Baghdad. Like so many of Iraq’s persecuted Christians, Sander is desperate to find work to support his family. One day, he is dragged from his family home at gunpoint. He is driven out into the desert in an unmarked car and is forced into a cupboard-sized hole in the ground. Once the hatch is locked above him, Sander begins to panic.
Sander spent four days in what he calls “a living grave”. Suffused with homicidal hatred, his captors severely beat him. With the padlocks firmly secure, Sander was left to starve to death. He prayed that someone would find him. He prayed that he would see his family again. After nearly a hundred hours hunched in the darkness, his prayers were answered when US soldiers rescued him.
The hardship continues
Though Sander was reunited with his family, he was permanently scarred by this experience. He has lost all hearing in his left ear due to the beatings. He experiences panic attacks and is likely suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. Sadly, the hardships did not stop.
Unable to find work in the aftermath of his kidnapping, and experiencing flashbacks of the ordeal, Sander struggled to provide for his family. He continued to receive threats and no longer deemed Iraq safe. The family moved to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan where they were supported by the Syrian Orthodox Church (one of our church partners in Iraq). When ISIS came, Sander and his family fled the country for good.
Sander and his family now live in Marka, one of the poorest areas of Amman. He still experiences flashbacks and panic attacks. As a refugee living in Jordan, Sander is not permitted to work. He is safe but he cannot provide for his family. His youngest child has a host of medical problems and recently had to have emergency surgery.
There is hope
Thanks to your donations, we are providing direct financial support to Sander and his family so they can afford to pay the rent on their tiny one bedroom apartment. However, we would like to provide more assistance as they are struggling to make ends meet. Please see the giving options below if you would like to make a donation.
Despite the hardships, Sander and his family have not lost their faith. His children are preparing for their first communion. They practice their prayers out loud in Syriac. It is humbling to see a family with so little so strengthened by their faith.
Voices of Iraq
As some of you will know, we premiered our new film, Voices of Iraq, at Westminster Abbey last month. We are now offering screenings of the film in support of our Nineveh SEED programme. Please contact us if you would like to show the film – firstname.lastname@example.org / 01730 267 673.
Supporting our work in the Middle East
To make a donation now visit the donate page on our website (there are numerous options for how to donate). Or you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. To support our future work, please consider leaving a legacy (more info about that here). Thank you!