Posted by Craig Borlase on 14 January 2016

There’s nothing all that remarkable about a worship leader calling people to the church to pray about some difficult times that the city is facing. Unless the church happens to be in Iraq. And unless those difficult times are the result of ISIS.

It all happened back in the summer of 2014. Janin, the worship leader at a small city church, had watched in horror as ISIS turned their sights on Mosul, the ancient Iraqi city formerly known as Nineveh. Like everybody else in his congregation he knew what the extremists were capable of, especially when it came to Christians.

Still, Iraqi troops were in position throughout the city. Having lost Fallujah and Ramadi, the Iraqi army was desperate not to give yet more ground to ISIS, and so had pumped 30,000 soldiers into Mosul. With just 1,500 ISIS fighters heading their way, the odds looked good for Janin and his church.

But fanatics never seem to pay much respect to overwhelming odds, and as the battle began, Janin and his congregation prayed.

“We prayed for the Iraqi army,” says Janin. “And we were asking God what he wanted us to do.”

Day after day the battle for the city continued, and by the time the fifth day came around, it was clear that the army were losing. “We decided to leave,” says Janin. “We asked God for protection.”

Within 24 hours the city was taken and ISIS extremists infested the city. Amid the scramble to escape, Janin had urged his congregation to keep their focus on God. He reminded them of Psalm 23, how even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil.

“Open your eyes,” he told them. “See the Lord is protecting us. He loves and he protects us.”

Every single one of them - man, woman, child - got out. With everything but the most basic essentials left behind, they crammed into cars and fled the city as the night brought darkness to the streets.

Today, almost 18 months on, Janin and his congregation are safe in a neighbouring city. They have lost almost every material possession they ever owned, but they have gained so much more, as Janin explains:

“My hope is in Jesus. I’m just waiting for Him to do whatever He wants to do through me.”

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