Between the civil war in Syria and the advance of ISIS in the Middle East, 14 million people have been forced to flee their homes–more than half of them children. This is the greatest number of displaced people since World War II. and Syrian refugees are in desperate need. Many are living in refugee camps in Northern Iraq, while others are risking death and homelessness as they attempt to reach Europe and elsewhere.

Haven Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to provide food, shelter, and other necessities to refugees in Iraq and Europe.

Will you give so that refugees can get the resources they need to survive? 100% of your gift will be used to bring help and hope to those who need it most. Here are some examples of how your gift may be used according to the current need. (View larger image)

Will you help bring hope to those who need right now?

The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic

Ten miles from ISIS above the plains of ancient Nineveh, a Chaldean pastor prays the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic—the language Jesus spoke over 2,000 years ago. This is the closest thing we have today for us to experience what it was like to hear Jesus speak these same words.

Should we forgive ISIS?

Reverend Douglas Bazi, Pastor & Erbil Relief Director, talks about how to be in a Christian living in the shadow of ISIS.

What Life is Like in Erbil

Charles Morris reports from one of Iraq’s largest cities that remains free from the control of ISIS. Life goes on, though the danger of an attack is imminent.

Do refugees have a future?

Just outside a refugee camp in Northern Iraq, Charles Morris interviews Caleb Drown, Samaritan’s Purse Deputy Director, to see what the long-term future holds for refugees in that region.


To learn more about what is happening in Northern Iraq, watch the full-length mini documentary, which includes more stories from those living in the shadow of ISIS.

Haven Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to provide food, shelter, and other necessities to refugees in Iraq and Europe. (View larger image)

Will you give so that refugees can get the resources they need to survive? 100% of your gift will be used to bring help and hope to those who need it most.

Between the civil war in Syria and the advance of ISIS in the Middle East, 14 million people have been forced to flee their homes—more than half of them children. This is the greatest number of displaced people since World War II.
Watch as Charles Morris, President and Speaker of Haven Ministries, interviews people on the ground in Northern Iraq to discover how the Church can help the millions displaced by war and persecution.


When people are suffering on the other side of the world, it’s often easy to feel like we are powerless to help. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. God has equipped every believer with the ability to help scores of people through the ministry of prayer.

When it comes to the millions displaced by war and persecution in Syria and Iraq, there is a great need for the body of Christ to come together and pray for those who need it today.

You can download a single-column or three-column bookmark PDF. Or follow the images below for 3 ways you can pray:

1. Pray For Refugees


2. Pray For Relief


3. Pray For Persecutors

Will you join us in praying for refugees, relief, and even the persecutors? Scripture promises us that great things will when we come to the Lord in prayer and believe that He will answer (Matthew 7:67; 17:20). But don’t stop there. Share this with your friends and family. Ask them to join you in praying for the millions of people who, though we can’t see their faces, need our help.

Download the print-ready Prayer Bookmark as a single-column or three-column PDF.

There is another way you can help. Haven Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to provide food, shelter, and other necessities to refugees in Iraq and Europe. (View larger image)

Will you give so that refugees can get the resources they need to survive? 100% of your gift will be used to bring help and hope to those who need it most.

Throughout Iraq, ISIS persists in their persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. In the wake of American journalist John Foley’s execution, the stakes have never seemed higher for those still in their path.

As ISIS threatens to take over, Canon Andrew White, otherwise known as the Vicar of Baghdad, refuses to abandon his people. Even though many have suggested that he go back to the safety of England, and although he suffers from multiple sclerosis, White continues to minister to Christians and Muslims alike.

Charles Morris, speaker for HAVEN Today, caught up with the Vicar of Baghdad to talk about why he has stayed in Iraq.

Earlier this month, White spoke to the Anglican Communion News Service about a horrific event that took place,

I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half. I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.

This happened in the town of Qaraqosh, which ISIS knew to be a Christian community.

When speaking to Charles last Thursday, Canon White explained what ISIS is really trying to do and what they are capable of.

When asked about how we should pray for his people and others affected by ISIS, Canon White gave 3 ways to pray:

  • Pray that we may be shielded from the danger around them.
  • Provision: Pray that we may be provided for, while being able to provide for others who have nothing and are in great need.
  • Perseverance: Pray that we keep moving forward in our faith and our hope and our trust in the Lord, so that we may never give up.


Click HERE and listen to the full interview with the Vicar of Baghdad.

In other parts of Iraq, there are still hundreds of thousands of refugees without money and shelter. Samaritan’s Purse has been on the ground since the beginning of the conflict offering relief to many. Will you join Haven Ministries in following Canon White’s example and empower others to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Iraq?

*Haven Ministries’ policy for relief funds is “not a dime for Haven.” Your entire gift will be directed to IRAQ: Help+Hope relief efforts unless otherwise designated.

[Download and Print 5 Prayers for Iraq Prayer Card]



  • For courage & endurance to continue confessing that Jesus is their Savior & Lord
    (Romans 10:9-10)
  • For those who will face death today – to be surrounded by the peace & presence of God
  • For the Gospel message to be lived out in life and in death


  • For those delivering supplies:  Safety, Effectiveness,  Boldness, Witness
  • For generous donors to give to relief efforts
    (2 Cor. 9:11)
  • For people who will commit to prayer
    (2 Cor. 1:8-11)


  • For their conversion
    (2 Peter 3:9; Jonah 3:8-9)
  • For the evil they do to be restrained
    (Matthew 18:6-9)
  • Pray they will receive divine justice                         
    (Romans 12:19-21)


  • For the thousands of refugees who have fled their homes and families to escape the unspeakable terrors of ISIS
  • For these events to not harden the hearts of these communities, instead turning them to Jesus, the one true God


  • For countries to assist in humanitarian efforts being provided by non-profit organizations
  • For the Lord’s intervention in government proceedings to establish a safe and secure country for the innocent Iraqi victims

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Making sense of Iraq, ISIS, Yazidis, beheadings, crucifixions and your social media feed

The headlines are currently filled with reports and claims of widespread persecution of religious minorities at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, also known as ISIL) rebels in Iraq and Syria. The word ‘genocide’ has even begun to appear.

For the shrewd observer, there is much to discern and not every news source, social media feed, or blog can be trusted to convey a factual picture. The situation is particularly sensitive, and in need of astute investigation, due to the potential reality of widespread persecution, genocide, and slaughter of innocents.

Well corroborated reports verify there is religious persecution of minorities occurring in Iraq. ISIS rebels, motivated by a confluence of religious, political, and cultural factors, are threatening, attacking, and murdering those who do not conform to their religious ideals — including Yazidis, Christians, and Shi’a Muslims. But, the situation is not as simple as “Muslims are embarking on a genocide of Christians” and understanding a bit of Iraq’s religious demographics, history, and the story of minority religions can help paint a clearer picture. Here are five things you need to about Iraq, ISIS, & the region’s religious minorities:


It’s easy to assume that Iraq is a “Muslim” nation given that an estimated 97% of its population is Muslim. ‘Nuff said…right? The reality is much more convoluted.

The country’s Muslim population is divided between the Shi’a (60-65%) and Sunni (32-37%) faithful. The Shi’a (also known as Shiite) are a minority within the global Muslim population (11-12%, compared to Sunni’s 87-89%) and only claim a majority in Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan (some recent claims also say Lebanon). Shiism developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, when his followers split over who would lead Islam. The Shi’a branch favored Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Ali and the Shi’a were defeated by the Sunni and over time the political divide between the two groups broadened to include theological distinctions. Shi’as include Ithna Asharis (Twelvers), Ismailis, Zaydis, Alevis and Alawites.

Tension between Sunnis and Shi’as proves a perennial source of conflict in the Middle East and formed a core part of the motivations behind the Iraq Civil War that occurred after the U.S. led invasion that toppled the secular Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein. ISIS rebels come from a particular school, and sub-sect, of Sunni Islam (more on this later) and are not part of the Shi’a majority of Iraq’s Muslims.

Furthermore, there are many Muslims throughout the world who seek to distance themselves, not only from ISIS (more on this later), but from countries where Muslims seek to marry religion and politics. They instead hope that secular forces will continue to grow in the Middle East, and elsewhere, and that a progressive and modernized form of Islam will take hold (see Reza Aslan, No god but God).

Iraq’s Constitution establishes Islam as its official religion and requires that no law contradict Islam. Yet, since Iraq is an attempt at a federal parliamentary Islamic democracy founded in the ideals of pluralism, religious freedom is also guaranteed. There are large numbers of Christians in Iraq and up to 6 million people make up the country’s religious minorities (including Yazidis, Ahl-e Haqq, Mandeans, Shabak, and Bahá’í). However, that does not mean that the Muslim majority does not wield disparate amounts of power, nor does it mean there is no persecution of religious minorities. The U.S State Department reported in 2013:

In Iraq, there were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, although to a lesser extent in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) than in other areas of the country. A combination of sectarian hiring practices, corruption, targeted attacks, and the uneven application of the law had a detrimental economic effect on minority non-Muslim communities, and contributed to the departure of non-Muslims from the country.

While Islam is predominant, state-sanctioned, and a source of conflict in Iraq it is jejune to simply say Iraq is a “Muslim” nation and convey that there is some single, unified, Muslim bloc, or that there are not significant religious divides present in the country that play a role in the current conflict.


Iraq has not always been a predominately Muslim country and possesses a rich religious history. In fact, its deep and diverse religious past most certainly plays a part in the political, cultural, and geographical loyalties of its contemporary population.

Modern Iraq is at the center of the Mesopotamian delta between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, also known as “the Fertile Crescent.” Not only was the land fertile in terms of agriculture and civilization, but religion as well. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh emerged out of Mesopotamia and the Sumerian’s cyclical, agricultural, and ritualistic religious environment that featured gods and goddesses such as Ishtar, Dumuzi, and Enki. The Sumerian metaphoric language and religion influenced Mesopotamian mythology and history for centuries and Hurrian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and even later religious groups and cultures were shaped by the cosmology of their Sumerian forebears.

Following these indigenous religious expressions, “the Fertile Crescent” was dominated by the Persians from 323 B.C.E. During the Persian era of Iraq, the culture in the area was shaped by Hebrew and indigenous religious forces, but Zoroastrianism became the accepted religion of the Persian culture. Zoroastrianism — one of the world’s oldest surviving monotheistic religions — was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran circa 1500 B.C.E. Zoroastrian worship Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), respect the pure elements (water, fire, earth, wind), and introduced a formalization of the concepts of monotheism, paradise, destiny, and free will to Mesopotamian religion.

Assyrian Christianity was introduced in the 1st and 2nd-centuries C.E. and comprises some of the most ancient forms of Christianity in the world. It has since divided into various Christian sects including Nestorians, Chaldean Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, and other Eastern Rite Christians (more on this later).

When Islam took hold around 634 C.E., the people of Mesopotamia were predominately Christian and paid the “non-Muslim” tax. Slowly, through intermarriage and conversion (both genuine and coerced) Islam prevailed. Over a century after the initial invasion of Islam (762 C.E.) Baghdad became the official capital of the region and served as a key commercial, cultural, and educational hub, linking Asia to the Mediterranean countries. It was a cosmopolitan city that, for a time, produced phenomenal philosophical and technical works by both Arab and Persian thinkers.

In the Middle Ages (1200-1500s C.E.), Iraq traded hands between the Mongols (which included shamanistic, Buddhist, Manichean, Nestorian, and Muslim influences) and the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Following World War I, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and the British defined the territory of Iraq paying scant attention to natural boundaries and religious and ethnic divisions. No single religious or political force has been able to effectively bring order to Iraq for more than a few decades since.


From this rich religious, political, economic, and cultural history several religious minorities emerged. One of those smaller religious populations is the Yazidis. The Yazidi are Kurds, but possess their own unique religion. Though largely isolated from their neighbors, their main habitations are around Mosul. Hence they have faced displacement when ISIS rebels took hold of this northern urban center and its environs.

Thankfully, several news sources successfully explicated the religious and cultural distinctives of the Yazidis whose “faith is a fascinating mix of ancient religions.”


What about Christians in Iraq? Several misleading headlines have zeroed in on ISIS’ attacks against Christians, not only ignoring Yazidis and other religious minorities, but not fully elucidating the Christian story in Iraq and reducing their narrative to persecution alone.

Iraqi Christians are some of the world’s oldest existent Christian populations. While not claiming a majority of the Iraqi population since the 7th-century, they constitute a significant and culturally influential minority. Before the Iraq War, Christians represented a little more than 5% of the population, claiming 1.5 – 2 million adherents. Due to rising persecution against Christians (abductions, torture, bombings, killings, forced conversion, and imposition of Sharia measures on Christian populations) their numbers plummeted to anywhere between 200,000-450,000  as of 2013 with many fleeing to surrounding countries such as Syria and Jordan (where, in the former location, they now face difficulties due to the Syrian Civil War). Those Christians that remain are concentrated in Baghdad, Basra, Arbil, Kirkuk and — significantly for the current context — in the Assyrian towns of the Nineveh Plains in the north and in Mosul. 

The Christians are a diverse group and include Nestorians, Chaldean Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Assyrian Rite Christians, and small numbers of Armenian Orthodox. The majority of Iraqi Christians are influenced directly, or contingently, by Nestorianism, a Christian sect condemned by the councils of Ephesus (431 C.E.) and Chalcedon (451 C.E.) for their assertion of the independence of the divine and human natures of Christ. Still today, the majority of the worlds Christians would consider Nestorians and their antecedents “heretics.”

However, in most headlines they are being ambiguously labeled “Christian,” rather than as a “Christian sect.” There is certainly much debate about their place in Christian taxonomy, but it is interesting that in other contexts Nestorians and other Eastern Rite churches would be decried as perilously close to being “non-Christian” by the same Protestant and Roman Catholic groups now rallying to their cause. Theological disputes aside, they do not deserve discrimination, displacement, or death based on religious or cultural lines and any religious group that supports their right to existence should be lauded for their efforts.


Several wayward headlines read akin to this one from The Christian Post: “Muslims Hack Off Christian Man’s Head After Forcing Him to Deny Jesus Christ and Salute Mohammed as ‘Messenger of God.’” Not only is this headline charged with sectarian sentiment, but it is misleading and oversimplified.

Is ISIS Muslim? If you ask Sohaib N. Sultan who wrote for TIME magazine that “ISIS is Ignoring Islam’s Teachings on Yazidis and Christians,” that claim is nebulous at best. Sultan wrote:

I join the chorus of Muslims worldwide, Sunnis and Shi‘ites, who oppose al-Baghdadi and ISIS as a whole. The killing and oppression of innocent people and the destruction of land and property is completely antithetical to Islam’s normative teachings. It’s as pure and as simple as that. 

Sultan’s comments echo a deep rift that continues to divide global Islam, which Reza Aslan refers to as a civil war between traditionalists and reformists. Not only this, but Islam is a diverse religion with various sects and schools of thought. Not only are there Shi’as, Sufis, and Sunnis, but the Sunni are divided into various schools and theological traditions that incorporate proponents of various lines of jurisprudence including the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, and Shafi’i institutions.

ISIS militants and their leaders are influenced by, and are an active part of, the Salafi movement in Islam. Salafis are fundamentalists who view their movement as a return to the roots of Islam (although this claim is contested by Sultan and others Muslims throughout the world). Their name is derived from the Arabic phrase, ‘as-salaf as-saliheen’, which refers to the first three generations of Muslims — the pious “predecessors” or “ancestors” of Islam.

The Salafi movement is a slippery one to pin down. Some scholars, and the Salafis themselves, claim they are a subset of Sunni Islam, deriving their teaching from the Hanbali school. Others lump Salafism with Wahhabism — the ultraconservative Islamic teaching of Adn al-Wahhab that was institutionalized by the Saudis before being radicalized by al-Qaeda and used against their nation and other Muslims. Wahhabis adhere to takfiri beliefs, which lead adherents to target non-Wahhabi Muslims — mainstream Muslims, Sunnis, Shi’as, Sufi, etc. Salafis assert they are a broader movement than Wahhabis, but certainly the two are parallel developments and share much in common in terms of radical doctrine and violent, extremist, practice. Salafis seek to purify Islam, which features a built-in brutality toward non-Muslims.

ISIS and other Salafi movements would like to promote the narrative that their war is one between Muslims and Christians. However, as Aslan, Sultan, and others note, this is as much an inter-Muslim conflict as anything else. This does not make the atrocities committed against other religious minorities any less hideous, but it does note that this is more than a Muslim-Christian conflict.

In the end, this current confrontation, and for that matter all Salafi inspired violence, should be framed as a juxtaposition between the world’s peace loving people — Muslim, Yazidi, Christian, Buddhist, non-religious, or otherwise — and those who seek to use religion as a means of power, oppression, and senseless violence.

Hopefully, this blog (essay, really) helps to paint this picture and convey the historical, religious, and political nexus this present hostility is part of.

This article was originally published on Now posted on the All About Jesus blog with permission from the the author. You can access the original article HERE.

As ISIS takes over villages and towns throughout Iraq, many are fleeing for their lives to the mountains. One of the areas accepting these refugees is a part of Northern Iraq, formerly known as Kurdistan.

Haven Ministries caught up with an evangelical pastor who is faithfully proclaiming the love of Christ in one of these villages. His church is just 3 miles from the front lines where militants are still trying to break through.

For his safety, we are witholding his name and exact location. In broken English, this is what he said:
What is it like in Iraq right now?

The Islamic State militia came from Syria to Mosul. They have taken control of the situation there, and Christians who want to stay alive must pay taxes, become Muslims, leave, or be killed. So all of the Christians left.

The Muslims took all of the churches, and the bishops’ offices to make their own. Christian families got everything taken from them, their laptops, their money, their cell phones, and even the keys to their home. [ISIS] took everything.

Thousands of these families fled to the mountains and came to Kurdistan. We saw them and tried to help them to find places to sleep, but most of [the refugees] are homeless. And most of them don’t have money to buy food. Many of them were robbed, and some of their daughters were taken to be sold in the market.

But we do thank God that the soldiers of Kurdistan are good people who stand together and defend the people here.

What is it like to share the gospel where you are?

It is difficult to stand on the street and speak about Jesus. We cannot go knocking on doors and giving out Bibles. But what we can do is help them and love them, because they need love and want to understand who we are. try to tell them that our faith is love. But we don’t just tell them about our love, we show it to them by the Holy Spirit. But how can we do that? We go to them and sit with them to just see their needs. And we try to help their needs and when we do that, they see the love.

This is our chance to tell them why we are different. It is a process. It is very difficult. Go, wait, love, share, help, tell – all of that could mean death. They could kill me for this. And we do that by faith, by the Holy Spirit, we are using love in Jesus’ name.

People tell us that we are different and we tell them it is because we have the real God, and His name is Jesus Christ.

Haven Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to bring relief to Iraqi and Syrian refugees who desperately need food, shelter and safety in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Through local partnerships and logistical supply lines, thousands of lives are being saved! The number of refugees grows daily and much more help is needed.

Would you make a gift today and make a difference in Iraq?
*Haven Ministries’ policy for relief funds is “not a dime for Haven.” Your entire gift will be directed to IRAQ: Help+Hope relief efforts unless otherwise designated.

The ultimatum is grim: convert to Islam or die.

Fleeing their homes by the hundreds of thousands, Iraqi Christians and other minorities are running for their lives as the radical jihadist army ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) advances.

Men, women and children alike are being slaughtered and driven from their homes. Many who are not killed by militants are facing death in the wilderness due to exposure and starvation.

But there is something you can do!

Haven Ministries is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to bring relief to the Iraqi and Syrian refugees looking for food, shelter and safety in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Through local partnerships and logistical supply lines, thousands of lives are being saved, yet the number of refugees is growing rapidly!

How You Can Help



As has been our decades-long commitment, Haven Ministries will not keep a dime designated for relief efforts. All dollars given will be routed to relief efforts through Samaritan’s Purse.

CLICK HERE to Make a Donation

     Your Gift Will

*If you wish to designate a portion of your gift to Haven, please let us know, otherwise your entire gift will be directed to IRAQ: Help+Hope relief efforts.