Originally published in The Gospel Herald.
A young Iraqi Christian girl displaced by ISIS, who made headlines last year after saying God’s grace enabled her to forgive her tormentors, has said she can’t wait to return home now that her hometown is almost liberated.
During an interview with SAT-7 KIDS, twelve-year-old Myriam said she’s excited at the prospect of returning to the historically Christian city of Qaraqosh, Iraq, formerly home to 50 000 Christians.
“Surely I am happy and joyful to return home and see my friends who didn’t leave. I’ll get to see them again,” she said. “I’ll see my home and my country again, the place that I love.”
Myriam and her family are among thousands of Iraqi Christians who fled Qaraqosh in 2014 after ISIS overtook the city. The family currently resides at refugee camp in Kurdistan’s Erbil.
Myriam’s father, Waleed, said: “There are no words to express how we feel. But we say in Iraqi, Wench, which is the feeling we have when we are home. It doesn’t matter if [we are living] under destruction.”
“If they are that joyful in Ankawa, then how will it be when 40 000 persons return to their homes?” Waleed added. “Imagine the joy we will feel!”
Despite the horrors his family has endured, Waleed said their faith allows them to remain joyful: “Peace is the peace of Jesus and not worldly peace,” he said. “Peace isn’t in a house or in the land. Even in fire you can have the peace of Jesus. As long as we have it we will be stronger than those who threw us out. When you love Jesus, no one can conquer you.”
Last year, Myriam captured hearts around the world and sparked the hashtag #prayformyriam after she extended forgiveness to the violent terrorist group in an interview with ABC News “20/20” co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.
“As Jesus said ‘forgive each other, love each other the way I love you,’ that is what we need to learn. Forgiveness,” she said. “My hopes for life are for there to be no wars. With no wars there will be love…I’m going to love my sister, I’m going to love whoever is in front of me. When there is no love, there is no justice and justice is what satisfies.”
During an earlier interview with SAT-7 in October 2014, the young girl said she holds no bitterness against her persecutors.
“God loves everybody,” Myriam said. “I’m not angry with God because we left Qaraqosh, I thank him because he provided [for] us. Even if we’re suffering here, he provides for us.” She ended the interview with a song, How Joyful is the Day, about how much she loves Jesus.
The Iraqi Army has begun to liberate the predominantly Christian city in Iraq after two years of Islamic State control as troops move closer to recapturing Mosul, IS’ stronghold. Speaking to Reuters, a US military official estimated there were fewer than a couple of hundred Islamic State fighters remaining in Qaraqosh.
As early reported, another historic Christian town, Bartella — was freed over the weekend, and Christian forces marked their return by mounting crosses atop their orthodox church.
“I am going to put the cross on the church,” one of the fighters shouts in video footage circulated on Twitter. “Watch this Daesh, I am going to put it on the church!”
Two of the men say a prayer after the cross is erected, and in a separate scene the church bells ring out.
“Our aim is to defend our land,” one of the fighters told France 24. “We must never relive what we have just been through with Daesh. Our people are scattered. Some of our children are dead. We have to live in tents. Now I want to send a message to my people: Bartella is liberated.”