Originally published in The Christian Post
Four Iraqi Christian children, who were all beheaded by the Islamic State, refused to betray Jesus and graciously died in his name when the ISIS militants gave them one last chance to say the Islamic words of conversion, the Rev. Canon Andrew White revealed in a recent interview.
In an interview last week with the Christian Broadcast Network published on the Orthodox Christian Network, White, who is the only Anglican vicar in Iraq and is know as “The Vicar of Baghdad,” detailed the plight of Christians in Iraq and recounted two instances when Islamic State’s forceful conversions directly pulled the strings of his heart.
Speaking on ISIS’ brutal mistreatment of religious minorities, White recounted the recent incident when ISIS militants beheaded four kids, all of whom were under the age of 15, when the kids refused to say that they would follow the Prophet Muhammad and told the ISIS fighters that they will always “love” and “follow” Jesus.
“ISIS turned up and they said to the children, ‘you say the words that you will follow Muhammad.’ The Children, all under 15, four of them, they said, ‘no, we love Yasua [Jesus]. We have always loved Yasua. We have always followed Yasua. Yasua has always been with us.'” White said. “[The Militants] said, ‘say the words!’ [The Children] said, ‘no, we can’t do that.’ They chopped all their heads off.”
“How do you respond to that?” White asked. “You just cry. They are my children. That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.”
White spoke of another instance, which happened a few days prior to the children’s beheading, where a male Christian adult was forced to say the Islamic words of conversion, or else all of his children were going to be beheaded. With his children’s lives at stake, the man could not afford to be bold and caved in saying said the words of conversion.
White said that later that day, the man called him to ask if Jesus still loved him even though he had said the Islamic words of conversion.
“[Militants] say to one man, an adult, ‘you say the words of conversion or we will kill all of your children.’ He was desperate. He said the words,” White said. “Then he phoned me and said ‘[Father], 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.’ I said, ‘Jesus still loves you. He will always love you.'”
White, who is now staying in Israel after fleeing from Baghdad after receiving personal death threats from the Islamic State, said that it is “impossible” for Christians to live in Iraq because of the Islamic State’s brutal mistreatment of religious minorities.
“They have threatened to kill me. They are after me. They wanted that Abuna [Father] from England,” White said. “So the Archbishop of Canterbury said ‘you’ve got to leave now.'”
White further notes that over 250,000 Christians have now fled from the caliphate and are living as refugees in the Kurdish North.
ISIS mistreatment of children and religious minorities goes well beyond just the forced Islamic conversions. White noted that many children, not just the four he previously mentioned, are being either beheaded and their bodies cut in half.
In addition, Yazidi refugees interviewed by the Daily Mail say that ISIS not only systematically kills yazidi and Christian men and women, they have also brutally cut the throats of babies. One 13-year-old Yazidi from one particular Yazidi village claims that the militants killed over 100 kids from his village.
ISIS militants are also kidnapping and selling off baby girls as sex slaves. A recent pricing guide released by Islamic State leadership reveals that Christian and Yazidi girls aged 1 to 9 years old are being sold as sex slaves for just $172.
Although ISIS recruits kids and other young adults to join the caliphate by advertising a false sense of Islamic Purpose, the ISIS leadership are also said to brutally treat their rank-and-file fighters.
Testimony from one 15-year-old former ISIS fighter says that ISIS leaders drugged fighters to make them more likely to commit a suicide bomb attack in battle. Additionally, a United Nations report states that ISIS militants are using kids as human shields in battle and also force them to donate blood to wounded ISIS fighters.