Story Iraq | 26-3-2024

Easter and a miraculous escape in Iraq


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The death and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that our faith is “useless” if Christ was not risen from the dead. 

Yet it can be difficult for many of us to reconcile our daily lives with the stories of miracles in the Bible — much less the ultimate miracle, the defeat of death itself.

But one of the gifts persecuted Christians can offer us is their testimony of God’s ongoing, miraculous world. And, in doing so, they remind us that the same God is at work in our lives, doing miracles each day—if only we have eyes to see.

The miracle that changed Sara's life

Sara* is one persecuted believer who was rescued in a miraculous manner. She lived in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Her mother passed away when she was young, and her father, while a Muslim, wasn’t very devout. Sara was always curious about life and faith—and it was that curiosity that changed her life.

When she was a teenager, one of her friends gave her a Bible. She started reading it and was soon bursting with questions. “I felt confused about what I read,” Sara remembers. “Many questions started building up in my head: ‘How can God have a son? What does it mean Jesus died for my sins? How can we be children of God? What does it mean [by] Son of Man?’”

Islam had taught her to live in fear of God, so what she read in the Bible conflicted with what she had heard all her life: “How can God punish me while [in the Bible] it says that God loves me and has died for my sins?”

Searching for answers, Sara asked her father; but he told her that the Bible is a fabricated book. “Leave it, and don’t read it anymore,” he said.

“But I couldn’t let go,” Sara says. “I went on to read the Quran, comparing each word with the Bible.” She says she felt “surprised and horrified.” The God she read about in the Bible couldn’t possibly be God, she thought. Because the God in the Bible was a peaceful and loving God, and God in the Quran is totally different.

Eventually, Sara realized the truth and accepted Jesus.

But the road ahead of her was going to be a tough one.

‘Let your God get you out of here’

“One day during dinner, [my family] was discussing the differences between [branches of] Islam,” Sarah says, “and I said to my father, ‘What are all these ideologies you are following? God loves you, and He wants you to come to Him.’”

Her father raged at her, “All this time you are asking about Christianity, I thought this was just some teenage phase, I thought this would pass,” he told Sara. “But apparently, I did not raise you right.”

Then the man Sara loved dearly locked his daughter in her room. Even now, Sara’s eyes water as she talks about that day. “He said, ‘Let’s see how your God will get you out,’” she says. “I felt very scared and shocked, as my father has always been kind to me.”


"I dreamed I was in a dark place and there was someone reaching for my hand"

For 10 days, she was locked inside the room and given nothing to eat. But she wasn’t abandoned by God. “Every night, I dreamed I was in a dark place and there was someone reaching for my hand, taking me out to a very bright place,” she says, with a wide smile. “Even though my situation seemed helpless and impossible, I still had hope and faith in Christ.”

Her father finally opened the door at the end of the 10 days, but the greater test was still to come.

“He told me, ‘Get ready; tomorrow you will marry your stepmother’s nephew. I did not raise you right, maybe he will,’” Sara remembers. Then he locked the door behind him again.

“At this point, I got angry at Jesus,” she says. “I told Him: ‘You are a liar and if You were real, You would get me out of this. If You want to prove to me that You are real, You will take my life because I would rather die than get married.”

That night, Sara went to bed with the hope of not waking up the next morning. But instead, she got the miracle she prayed for:
“Someone came like a light, held my hand and dragged me out of the locked room. I felt like I was in a trance, it was like a dream. He put me in a silver car. That morning, I woke up in a hotel room in a city in north Iraq, hours away from where I lived. I felt really scared when I found out where I was, I thought I was still in a dream, but then a hotel worker came in, gave me food and walked out.

“A security officer came and took me to a room. The officer told me, ‘Usually, a girl leaves home because she runs away from her father out of fear, or runs away with a man. What’s your story?’

“‘Yes, I ran away with someone,’ I said to the officer.

“‘Who is he, and why isn’t he here?’ the officer asked.

“At that moment, I got courage and said to the officer: ‘He is here with me. He is always with me.’

“‘Who is he?’ he asked.


“I told him my story and then he said he had to confirm my story with my dad. I felt scared and worried to face my dad, but at the same time I also felt courageous and stronger than ever.”

After two days, Sara’s father arrived. He questioned her, and she recounted her story to him. At the end she said, “All this happened because you challenged God. You said, ‘Let your God get you out of here.’ And He did.”

Sara’s relationship with her father was never the same again, which still causes her pain. She found out later he’d erased her from their family’s official records. The loss of family is one of the most painful consequences of following Jesus, especially for an unmarried woman in Iraq. Sara knows this firsthand. Yet she doesn’t regret her decision.


“I felt very lonely and hopeless, but I kept my faith and kept praying to God.”

The miracle showed her how much God loves her. She continued to walk with Him, even as she went through a series of jobs and was discriminated against and persecuted because of her faith and the fact that she was a single woman.

“I felt very lonely and hopeless, but I kept my faith and kept praying to God,” Sara says.

Eventually, Sara found what she had been searching for: a Christian community and a chance to grow in her faith. She was baptized and even started studies in theology.

Sara reading the Bible

‘I am grateful for all the bad things’

Other than the miracle, Sara knows that God has been working for her in the small things too.

“Before knowing Christ, my life was empty,” she says. “I didn’t have the joy and peace that I have now in my heart. Yes, in my old life, I had everything I wanted, all material things were provided. But inside, there was no real stability, no real love. I was unable to love, I was very selfish and self-centered, and I had a very big ego.” Looking back, Sara sees how God has worked through all the difficult situations to bring her closer to Him.

“After I found Christ, my life transformed completely. I started to know love; some things started to break inside me,” she shares. “I am grateful for all the bad things and experiences I’ve been through. I got to know Him better, and I was transformed into His image.”

The real miracle that happened to Sara is that Jesus found her where she was and said “Come to me … and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).


“He brought me down to my lowest, only to lift me up again.”

This is the miracle that happens to each one of us who claim the name of Christ, and it’s Jesus’ resurrection power at work. It may not be as flashy as resurrection from the dead or a midnight escape from a locked room, but it’s just as much an act of God.

Jesus’ resurrection gives us the hope that our God is powerful and He is always working even when all seems to be lost. Sara’s life is a testament to this. “I have never regretted the decision I made,” she says. “He brought me down to my lowest, only to lift me up again.”
Christians in Qaraqosh in the northern Iraqi Nineveh Plain celebrating Palm Easter on 24 March. Christians went to the streets in a massive procession. With chants, songs and hymns they were glorifying the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. From August 2014 all these people were displaced when ISIS took control over the Nineveh Plain. Only in 2017 they returned home. Now they proclaim the resurrection hope in Jesus.

Thanks to your gifts and prayers, women like Sara are growing in their faith in Iraq. Sara regularly attends a church—one of the Centers of Hope that Open Doors helps support. These Centers of Hope offer various ministries to strengthen communities and the church in that area. At the Center, Sara is part of the meetings organized for women where she is accepted and can grow as a disciple and has begun her own evangelistic ministry.

*Name changed to protect identity
Top image is illustrative

please pray
  • For Sara’s prayers for a new ID card declaring her a Christian to be answered
  • That each persecuted Christian woman around the world would be seen, valued and empowered to reach her God-given potential
  • This Easter, all believers will experience the love and power of the risen Lord, and be renewed with strength.
please give
  • Every HK$190 could provide Scripture material to four women, to nurture their faith
  • Every HK$260 could give a Christian woman food to help her family survive for a month
  • Every HK$430 could help a persecuted woman start a small business, giving her financial security
*Any excess funds will be used to strengthen other persecuted Christians where urgent help is needed.