Rebirth from the dust. The testimony of Brother Noor

Posted on Sep 21, 2019

Brother Noor is a seminarian of the Custody of the Holy Land, and his strong words resonate in the dust of his city, Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, in Iraq. A Christian city, the most important in the plain of Nineveh. Today, after years of war, less than half of its 60,000 inhabitants have returned. The enclave of Christianity, one of the oldest communities in the world that grew up historically in Mesopotamia, in the summer of 2014 it was swept away by the Islamic State. Three years after his liberation, Brother Noor took us to his country.

Br NOOR TAMAS, ofm Seminarian Custody of the Holy Land “I want to talk to you about a Hope. A living Hope.

“It was the night of August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, when we had to flee from this house. No one was in the city anymore, it was completely empty. We heard the sound of the Iraqi army bombing against the jihadists of ISIS.”

During the occupation, almost the entire city was destroyed: flames swallowed up houses, churches, the statues of Christ were broken and thrown into the dust.

“I couldn’t find any memory – said Br Noon – that it was linked to my story and my life. All the photos, all the memories of the family were burned. They wanted to erase history. It is like I am without identity – he added – without any memory of my first 5 years of life; nothing from the past to help me remember.

“This house, like many others, is waiting to be rebuilt. Everyone is afraid: afraid that the war will start again, afraid that they will be persecuted, afraid that they will have to flee again… therefore, half of the people escaped abroad.”

Returning to live after the ISIS, after the horror, after seeing family and friends run away… it is possible. The Iraqi Christians, as Brother Noor testifies, have decided with the courage to return, despite the pain and sadness, and the wounds of a destroyed city.

Br NOOR TAMAS, ofm Seminarian Custody of the Holy Land  “We are in front of the Church of the Resurrection, the last church built in Qarasoh that was completely destroyed by bombing. We can see to what extent this war has affected us, to what extent it has entered our lives. We can never forget what happened, but from this, we can build a new future.”

We met Brother Noor on his return from vacation, here in the Holy Land. His land in the eyes, and the words of Matthew’s Gospel in his heart: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other… But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” Mt 24:9-13

Br NOOR TAMAS, ofm Seminarian Custody of the Holy Land “I am against Christians leaving the country… I did it because of the Lord’s call, but I am very attached to my country. I am attached to the land because the Lord brought me here, I was born here. You shall always look for hope in the work, in a new life, in starting again, in rebuilding. It is your mission to be here, it is your mission to bear this witness, that despite the persecution, we have remained through Christ our Lord.”